Pardon me while I rant incessantly: Hypocrisy

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Angela Doll Carlson aka @MrsMetaphor wrote an excellent and very convicting post last week called Big but…or…what not to say in political discussions. In it, she highlights why I have little hope the political discourse in this country will improve anytime soon. Here’s a brief excerpt:

The reality is that we have a highly divided country on pretty much every single level. No one is going to sign on blindly to a sound bite. The only line it’d be possible for us all to agree on might be something like:

“We all want to live and live as well as possible.”

And frankly, that might even need engagement and discussion. As Pee Wee Herman says, “everyone I know has a big but…” We might all sign on to the statement above although I’d wager we could each offer up a big but-

“We all want to live and live as well as possible but we don’t want to pay higher taxes for it”

“We all want to live and live as well as possible but we don’t want a republican president”

“We all want to live and live as well as possible but we don’t want national healthcare “

“We all want to live and live as well as possible but we don’t want prayer in school”

Your big but and my big but are the reason we need to be able to have discussions and engagement. We need to be able to say, “yes, I hear you but I have an issue with this piece or that piece” and that cannot happen if your response to my articulated argument is to just tear me down by calling me names.

Politically speaking, I think it would be a fair statement that Angela and I do not agree on some issues, but I can disagree with her politically and still respect her as a person because she presents her views honestly and intelligently. And in doing so, encourages others to do the same. We need more people like Angela and fewer people on the far left an far right whose approach to political disagreement is an all-out war against the enemy, who believe those who disagree with them are evil, and believe that their agenda should be advanced by all means necessary.

Which brings me to my incessant rant.

Tuesday afternoon. I’m checking my replies column on Tweetdeck when I happen upon this retweet:

Thinking I must have misunderstood what the meaning of the tweet was, I tweeted back:

Rather than respond to me directly (or several others who took issue with that statement), @ActivismTips tweeted the following:

Oh…wow. Okay.

Despite my vehement disagreement with “our goals and aspirations that define us” (because I can have goals and aspirations to win a triatholon, but if all I ever do is sit on my fat butt aspiring to be a triathlete and never actually train, I wouldn’t say that defines me as a triathlete) I’ll give him/her credit for attempting to clarify the previous tweet. If we’re all human and are all hypocrites, then I suppose I took the “it’s okay to be a hypocrite” tweet too literally. Unfortunately, since whoever tweets for this account (which has over 15,000 followers and follows no one) does not engage in conversations on twitter as best I can tell, I was unable to clarify the meaning of either tweet. Which begs the question, does this activist want to engage in conversation which might offer some real change and movement towards a said “goal and aspiration” or do they just want to spur others to protest for the sake of protesting?

Since their twitter bio is rather vague: “This is how you find your inner activist, this is how you fight for freedom, this is how you dance the dance of resistance.” (Freedom from what? Resistance against what or whom?), I decided to visit their website, which provided The Activist’s Handbook: 1000 Ways to Politically and Socially Activate Your Life.

Again, no chance to engage in conversation. Just sound bytes. To be fair, I didn’t read all 1000 points, but here are the first 10, just so you can get a feel for their message:

These are 1000 ways in which you can politically and socially activate your life:

  1. The next time you’re with family or friends, discuss a particular cause, instead of letting the conversation drift to celebrity gossip.
  2. Be mindful of the fact that the news channels synthesize events in ways which make the individual feel as if activism is hopeless.
  3. Try to make friends that are politically involved, instead of maintaining the same old school friends.
  4. Stay focused on one particular cause, it’s fine to take up many causes, but always recognize your main cause.
  5. Call a big bank that was bailed out in 2008 by the people and ask them if they would be willing to bail out poor families.
  6. Go to a protest, do not let the stigma propagated by the mass media keep you away from protests.
  7. When your friends talk to you about new consumer products, change the topic to political causes instead.
  8. If you’re going to a protest, try to bring as many of your friends as you can.
  9. When friends say that protestors are ‘crazy’, explain to them exhilarating feeling of being part of a large politically conscious group.
  10. Being an activist requires sacrifice, you will lose many brainwashed friends along the way, but who needs them anyway!

My biggest problem with this exhaustive list is that I still don’t understand what the author of this list is for, only what he or she is against. Nothing will ever change if all anyone ever wants to do is to vilify some abstract vision of “the man”. To be fair, no progress will be made on the other side of the argument if they employ the same defamatory rhetoric from their own perspective.

I can accept that MY Truth may not be the same as yours, and I respect your right to live your life in such a way that it least compromises your values. Just don’t demand that anyone take you seriously when you encourage others to be

Hypocrites:

“Living a double life does not make you a hypocrite, we all have to feed ourselves, it is living a passive life that ruins your heart.”

“Take donations from the rich, but do not ever credit them, do not ever do the whole ‘sponsored by Goldman Sachs’ nonsense.”

Thieves:

“Write anonymously, it is an empowering act, forget the capitalist notions of copyrights and intellectual property.”

“Fight against the notion of intellectual property, the idea that our thoughts and minds can be owned and distributed.”

and Liars:

“If you have to lie to people by telling them there’s free coffee and donuts to at a political protest, then lie away!”

You know, all those things you accuse the greedy capitalists of being…

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16 Responses to “Pardon me while I rant incessantly: Hypocrisy”

  1. James Jones October 20, 2011 at 8:08 am #

    Integrity starts with me.

    Great post.

  2. Shawn Smucker October 20, 2011 at 8:11 am #

    The older I get, the more and more discouraged I am by the political climate. It seems to me that all the best ideas would be some conglomeration of what the two sides have to offer, but that ever happening seems less and less likely.

    • Jonathan B October 25, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

      People with R or D after their name can be all over the political map. But the more I get to know how friends on the other side view things, the more I come to recognize that a genuine Conservative and a genuine Liberal do not have common ground in the middle. The way we view almost everything that involves the government is precisely opposite and incompatible. It’s become an either/or proposition.

      We’ve actually had a mixture of the two governing the country since at least the FDR era. Probably a little before. We haven’t actually seen pure capitalism in the US for the better part of a century. We’ve had a slowly increasing mixture of capitalism and socialism over decades of compromise. What you’re seeing right now is that the mixture isn’t working, and the two sides are fighting over who gets to implement the pure version of their side. It gets vehement because we both recognize, for entirely different reasons, that the fate of the country could hang in the balance.

  3. Angela Doll Carlson October 20, 2011 at 8:17 am #

    Truth!! Well said. Activism of this ilk only serves to downgrade the work of people whose intentions are rooted in integrity and honesty. Egad.

    Keep ranting. The world needs more words like these.

  4. Jenny October 20, 2011 at 8:19 am #

    “I still don’t understand what the author of this list is for, only what he or she is against”

    Kind of like the church, eh? 🙂

    • katdish October 20, 2011 at 8:22 am #

      Sadly, yes Jenny. But not all churches.

  5. Andi October 20, 2011 at 8:58 am #

    Great post. I completely agree. I think we need to discuss our differences and still, as you say, respect one another. I also think if we have the gumption to express an opinion publicly, we should have the courage to our names – our real names – to it. I hate all the anonymity that people hide behind, especially, it seems, when they most want to be cruel. Thanks for this. Much to consider.

  6. Jake October 20, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    “No one is going to sign on blindly to a sound bite.”
    I completely disagree. There are too many humans who have signed on and are too lazy to research anything further than what they heard on a blip during the morning news. And as for the other human, I think they’re not FOR anything at all. Protesting is their end. They want to piss and moan and want everyone else to join. I think I’m in a terrible mood or something (indicating that I’m no better) because all I want to do is swear when I see that garbage. I’m beyond annoyed with some of the tool bags I’m seeing in this new occupy wall street thing, I think they’re a bunch of morons who don’t know why they’re unhappy. I guess this is more about discussion than anything else, but you’re right. So many have lost the ability to engage in thought-provoking political discourse.

    Kat, I enjoy your rants. I wonder what will happen if I ever really disagree with one 🙂

    • katdish October 20, 2011 at 9:24 am #

      Contrary to popular belief, I actually don’t mind when people disagree with me, and I will stand up for your right to be a grumpy ho, Jake.

  7. Helen October 20, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    Many of the items on that list could be reappropriated to a “How to Get Disinvited From Future Family Functions” list. Seriously, when my family asks what I’ve been up to, I can say “Praying at abortion clinics last week..” without getting voted “off the island.” But if I try to steer every conversation toward my pet cause (which is the pro life issue, btw. I know I don’t blog about it much, but out of any “political” issue, letting children, the ill, and the elderly live is the one I care about most deeply), people are going to walk away from me. Aunt Lydia will still love me, she just won’t be able to tolerate my presence. No, not because she disagrees with me. She doesn’t. She’d just like to be able to brag about her grandchildren once in a while! 🙂

    • Cris Ferreira October 20, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

      Helen, that’s exactly what I thought when I read the list.
      I don’t know if I am more worried that a person with no purpose other than protesting for the sake of protest (no cause identified) has 15000 followers, or that there are 15000 people (or more) that don’t know their purpose so they have to follow him.

  8. okiewife October 20, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    I agree with Helen here–I am vehemently pro-life, but I do not continuously rant about it for the same reasons. I firmly believe in stating my case if opportunity arises, then shutting up. There are other issues to be thought about and discussed, without animosity. Name calling is a big turn-off. Oh, and I also have photos of my grandkids to show off. 🙂

  9. floyd October 20, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

    I hate to be contrary, well that might not be the complete truth, but I think a person’s political views are formed by their religious views. Being a fairly simple minded, I try to boil things down to the lowest common denominator. While there isn’t enough room or desire to go into full details, it comes down to black and white. Emotions verses principles. And dare I even say, good verses evil.

    Jesus Christ said, “Who’s not for me is against me.” While I do believe in separation of church and state, I believe in the moral standard in which the Constitution was written.

    Without the common sense given by God, there is no sense at all…

  10. Crissa October 21, 2011 at 5:05 am #

    I’ve seen a lot of people living life through pride and they are not happy campers. I’ve seen others that are humble and notice that they are fulfilled and happy.
    Thanks for sharing this awesome post.

  11. Jonathan B October 25, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

    Just this week I got called “a non-obnoxious conservative Christian” by a very liberal friend. I try very much to be that with people I know personally. You don’t have to know me very long to know I’m a conservative, if you bring up any related subject with me along the way. But I try not to beat people over the head with things they’re not open to hearing, most of the time. I might say something if I feel some point needs not to go unchallenge, but I will most likely make my point and move on unless the person genuinely wants to hear more.

    In more public venue, such as commenting on news articles, I may be bolder, because even if the person I’m responding to has no interest in hearing any other view, someone else reading might. So I try to lay out a passionate, logical explanation of the truth. Even there, I try to keep the insults in my head and out of my fingers. 😉 Insults don’t belong. They’re still a person made by God and for whom Christ died, however blind or wrong they may be. Anger and frustration make it hard to remember that soemtimes, but I do try.

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