This is the first in a planned occasional series using questions from a favorite podcast, Spontaneanation. In it, Paul F. Tomkins uses a question provided by a previous guest as a jumping-off point to a conversation with the current guest. I plan to do the same – only TO MYSELF.
Does everyone deserve to be heard? That depends. Do I have to listen?
For a short period of time, I attended a Unitarian church here in town. I felt their ideas and mission most closely mirrored my own: respect for every faith and the fruit of one’s own faith ought to be works that relieve pain in others. (That’s a MY theory of faith and not necessarily that of Unitarian/Universalism. Don’t hold them to it.) I discontinued my attendance there after it became clear that I was a square peg and my attempts to fill any of the round holes in their congregation were met with indifference. I never stared at so many backs as I did during their after-service coffee hours. And at 5-foot-3 I’ve stared at a LOT of backs.
Wait, that was not my point. HERE’S my point: there is a moment during each Unitarian service where congregation members are free to share a life event that is either a source of grief or joy. A microphone is passed around for this purpose. In this congregation, there was a young man with developmental challenges who would take the opportunity every week to tell everyone about his cat and various other “I love lamp” issues that might occur to him. He loved holding the microphone and he loved talking and he had no dismount. And the congregation, as they should have, let him bathe in this moment of weekly attention. No one was hurt and the young man, when he finally exhausted all his thoughts, sat down beaming. And I SQUIRMED. And DOODLED. And thought uncharitable thoughts. But that boy deserved to speak. And he deserved to be smiled at. And heard, I suppose. Why am I writing this? I end up looking like an impatient grumbler. Actually, “Impatient Grumbler” would be an accurate subtitle to this blog so I guess no one should be surprised.
That was the story that popped into my head about two weeks ago when I first read the question, “Does everyone deserve to be heard?”. After the events of the last weekend, the question has become much more meaningful and loaded, so I will ask myself once again,
Does everyone deserve to be heard? Even white supremacists and pretend Nazis?
Yes, everyone deserves to be heard. No one deserves to be hurt.
How should we approach a Nazi/Confederate rally then? Nazis and white supremacists are angry weaklings who blame others for their own failings. They spread their hate to other, insecure and sad minds, so that their evil thoughts never quite die out, no matter how many wars they lose.
They want to be taken seriously. So we should stop giving them the microphone.
What if, instead of counter marching at the same day and in the same place as the Wieners (I’m tired of calling them Nazis because they seem to like it – go figure - so I’m going to start calling them the Wieners), a counter march is held, in the same place, but the NEXT DAY? It would make it much easier to gauge the relative size of the marches. The Wiener march would be maybe 50 people and the next day I’m guessing you might have 500 peaceful marchers for racial equality in the same place. BAM. PWNAGE.
In this way, we do not allow clashes where the Wieners might end up looking aggrieved by being the butt of a beat-down, peaceful people will not get hurt, and the Wieners would get much less attention.
IGNORE. Let them speak to a dead microphone. They may not go away, but they will own less real estate in our thoughts and our news feeds. They will shrink like a cancer bathed in chemo.
THEN MARCH IN PEACEFUL STREETS. If you believe in the teachings of Martin Luther King, then live them.
I don’t expect my prescription for a Wiener-less peace to be filled, because it is so easy (and, I am sure, satisfying) to give in to the rage caused by such evil, malignant intent, but I can dream.
And now, your art tax.