Thursday, September 21, 2017
After I'd finished combing my lesson horse's hair, I made a joke about how much more handsome he is than that other guy with the same coloured hair. All of a sudden, I thought about all the orange jokes, all the name-calling, all the vitriol that is spewed towards that man. So much hate at worst, disdain at best, and most of the time, the attacks are personal.
And I felt with my heart, not just my head, that no matter how much I, or anyone, disagree with his words, his actions, his policies, etc, we simply, collectively, have to stop the name-calling and derogatory comments and the personal putdowns. Even to him. To his supporters. To his detractors. To everyone. No more saying, "He's an asshole." No more saying, "She's just a fat cow." No more sharing a putdown even if it's just to a horse.
And to make it personal: No more putting yourself down, and no more taking that shit from anyone else. (A friend of mine asked me just today, "Every time I sit down to write, I hear my father's voice in my head asking me why anyone would be interested in what I have to say." I told her, "Your father isn't your target audience." So that's your answer when anyone -- even a parent or a husband puts you down: "You are not my target audience.")
We have careened down a slope so slippery, it's like there's no slope at all; we just plummeted fast into a dark abyss of negativity and verbal free-for-all. What have we accomplished by giving up tact and civility and compassion? We have to find a hand hold and start hauling ourselves out of that abyss.
Nothing will ever ever ever change if each of us cannot stop with the disrespect, no matter how hard it is, and be kind with our words. It costs nothing to say, "This attitude scares the shit out of me," instead of "He's an asshole who's going to get the world blown up."
Don't tell me that's true. It doesn't make it right. But if it is true, we need to try and make it better -- we need to try and make him better, and it can only happen if we are stop insulting each other. Because no one listens to insults. No one hears you when the words coming out of your mouth are rude personal attacks.
Let the women make some laws for a bit, 'kay? Because like your mama said, "If you can't say anything nice, say nothing at all," and that should be a law.
As I brushed my horse's mane, thinking about the joke I made, I thought that if each of us could go ONE DAY without saying something nasty/derogatory/uncomplimentary about anyone, and I mean anyone, not one comment typed online, not one comment flung at the television, not one comment muttered under the breath at the grocery store, we might just bring civility back into our lives. Or at least, wedge our toes back in the door. Let ONE DAY become another and another. Create a new, universal habit. If everyone -- even the assholes -- could take a day off from saying the worst possible things, we might have a chance to make this world great again.
It's not okay to talk like this and we can't make it the new normal.
[These thoughts were likely brought about by the meditative quality of brushing and combing my horse in the peace and quiet of the barn. They blossomed, however, out of my recent reading of Brene Brown's new book, Braving the Wilderness. She devotes one chapter of the book to our need to maintain civility in all our discussions; I think that's a skill we're not teaching or demonstrating to young people any longer. For these thoughts to bubble up so strongly in me me this morning as I combed Dakota's mane, Brown's book obviously made an impression on me.]