I want to talk …

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I want to talk to you today about forgiveness and reconciliation…
They’re not the same thing.
You can have one without the other, neither, or both.
You’re not right in demanding either or both of anyone.
Demanding can also take the form of pleading, begging or a superficially polite request.
Demanding is when you’re not equipped to accept any version of “no” in response.
Otherwise normal, healthy, well-meaning people can behave horribly when they don’t recognize these truths.
I want our followers become privy to this.
Would you please reblog?
So more people won’t have to learn the hard way?

-Daniel Ballow

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Rape is a Horrible Crime, And…

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Every time I listen to/ read the stories of rape survivors, it’s usually their cultural, sociological, legal, or religious setting that MAKES it more emotionally devastating, and as such, is considered the worst crime in the world.

But upon realizing this… it occurred to me that’s it’s really each of US that makes it into what is is.

Just about every other crime where an attack/violation/exploitation/threat of violence/coercion occurs… doesn’t have this much bullsh*t attached.

Do you SEE what I’m getting at here? It’s OUR faults.

WE turn it into the worst thing in the world, and in doing so, inflict the worst thing in the world to the victims of this crime!

Then in making the perpetrators guilty of the worst crime in the world, nobody can objectively or compassionately examine why it happens, thereby leaving the reasons unexamined by anyone doesn’t think of them as not quite human, or by someone who is not out for blood. And letting it go on, and on, and on… unabated.

Don’t you get it!?

We’re WORSE than rapists!

Privilege

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       “The smallest minority on earth is the individual.” –Ayn Rand

 

In the context of the rest of Ayn Rand’s teachings, this was to run parallel to the idea that the individual should be held in consideration above all else. She was of the idea that institutionalized equality necessarily kept the able in chains, stifling their progress. On the contrary, I believe the strength of the enlightened individual can generate tectonic shifts in the world directly around him, for ill or for good, once he realizes the society is a brick house of individuals. I don’t like Ayn Rand’s teachings; I wouldn’t quote her unless it was extremely important.

 

When division is present, privilege will always be subjective. America may be one of the most prosperous nations, but we’re also one of the least happy, unappreciative, close-minded, and insulated nations. If truth is the greatest virtue, then isn’t the one who possesses it privileged regardless of how long he lives, how he makes ends meet, etc. With an optimist’s eyes, there can be an advantage to just about anything.

Now when I say these things, I do not mean to say oppression is non-existent. It’s a real pervasive force within a society and between individuals. However, oppression can never be eradicated if it goes mis-identified. I am not of the belief that societal division necessarily equates oppression. Real oppression, I believe, is precisely the “exaggerated” model initially presented in “The 5 Faces of Oppression.” That model of the conquered having the others will involuntarily imposed upon it. Such a state, or state of being, is the only truly, absolute non-privilege.

 

I am not in such a state, but I’ve felt marginalized my whole life. I am an alien, somehow, someway, though my parents love me, they are relatively socially retarded. The basic hi, bye, please, thank you, excuse me was all gotten to a T. What else was there? I sometimes joke, I’ve FELT alienated, but Clark Kent actually IS an alien. Imagine how he felt.

 

However, in my later years, understanding the mechanisms behind my lifelong frustrations have left me immune to their assigned power. Free to chose or deny that power at will. One of the few things my mother taught me that I hold close to this day, is that a culture can be wrong. Cultural rules reflect underlying assumptions about the nature of reality. Just as I am under no obligation to obey an unjust, written law, same can be said for unwritten ones.

 

It’s also put me in a very unique position to play with the old tropes in creative and exciting ways.

I have been the subject of racism before in my kindergarten years. Fellow student. I didn’t quake in my boots at the prospect of being put down, nor did I boil over in some Pavlovian response. My child’s mind just dismissed the stupidity of the event. Now that I have historical context in my adulthood, I wouldn’t have had myself react any other way.

 

My general deprivation of companionship had nothing to do with my race, class, gender, religion, age, sexuality, location, level of education, language, or marital status. (One could make the argument that my relationship status was a result of the other things.) I have been put in my position because I’m an individual, and for no other reason. Not as a black man, but as a person.

It’s been a privilege.

Forgiveness Forever

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Friendship, by definition of positive interpersonal connection is more vividly felt in moderation. One would have to be exclusively devoted to the experience of friendship to in order to evenly disperse attention/affection wherever one incidentally interacts with people. One will eventually choose certain people from among them, incidentally prefer certain people, or simply decide on casual quantity over intimate quality. The point is that friendship has many possible ways to manage while still being the same practical concept. Forgiveness on the other hand transcends, relationship type. My dictionary application defines forgiveness as ceasing to feel angry or resentful toward someone for an offense, flaw, or mistake. Feelings of anger dissipating are a natural occurrence as the insignificance of the action becomes more and more evident.

“Forgiveness” as a natural occurrence is inevitable under circumstances favorable to the “victim.” However, forgiveness as a willing “cancellation of debt,” both monetary and otherwise is NOT as inevitable. It requires a thought and attitude shift in the recipient. These shifts are often resisted because of the high emotional state against the person who deserved it or their “mad at.” I’m under the experiential impression that an over abundance of RAGE distorts decision-making, and even IF what someone is doing or saying is wrong, the response must NOT then be fueled by anger. A shift in attitude must take place if the feelings of anger on an issue are to dissipate.

Although this is to be true across the board, this philosophy is immediately relevant to managing friendships. If Plato’s comment about one should remain friends as long as “the other person doesn’t change” is to be believed (I don’t believe it.), then forgiveness for “being who they are” should be doubly extended. To agree never to it again would be to eliminate a nuance in their personalities. I think friendship should leave room for maturity on the parts of both persons, and static refusal to develop comes across as kind of Randian. (“Randian” is being uses to describe internally inconsistent rigidity.)  Generally speaking friendships are formed in the context of the person’s most redeeming character traits, the negatives may/may not be necessary impurities in whatever good the person is capable of. The capacity to accept that will reduce instances of “throwing the infant out with the dirty bath water.”

Now what of our enemies and people we don’t care about/for? If they don’t deal with us, why should I not provide myself with a healthy, unrelated target for my resentment? If enough people take this approach, then we have cases of mass alienation, mass mutual resentment, self-alienation, or resentment of masses. Many school-based peer mishaps can be attributed to this. Boiling it down, they can be attributed to think this practice is a good idea. See, the only thing I HAVE A MORAL OBLIGATION AGAINST EVER FORGIVING: is the continued existence of flawed thinking/ideas. Note: The anger is never directed toward people, but to the ideas. I get major release from beating the tar out of stupid arguments, and making fun of them post-mortem.

To put a condition on the forgiveness of an action not mutually considered a mistake, error, or bad habit, is to threaten your friend with emotional isolation unless your way of thinking/behavior is adopted. (This is not to advocate unconditional alliance with anyone, which would be potentially disastrous.) It is fascistic to make and expect action on that demand SOLEY on the basis of your friendship. Now to order someone to correct something mutually agreed upon to be a mistake, error, bad habit, lapse of judgment is a separate matter.

Anger generally presupposes “I have been wronged.” I’ve learned that most people’s mistakes are not generally made with YOU in mind. The exceptions usually take place when the previous paragraph is in affect, during which the perpetrator usually believes your treatment is entirely appropriate. Most people can find some circumstance where it is appropriate to torture someone in the worst way possible. (Some people’s standards are just “higher” than others…)

When malice is not the issue, the anger is usually misplaced. Other times, the anger is from the friend not constantly being considered. Perceived as a form of neglect, an accusation the accuser is often immediately guilty of. Not being forgiven by a friend is usually painful. This is worse when the accuser knows this to be the case. Intentional hurt for punishment of unintentional hurt. (What a great buddy YOU turned out to be.) I maintain that even IF the person’s feelings are “considered” it’s usually IMPOSSIBLE to know their reaction until they react. Then you’re making a demand that the person intuitively know how you’ll feel before they do anything. This is a feat that takes MANY years of training. It would be unrealistic to assume this to the case. And even WITH the years of training… “Realistic” is by definition, whatever actually happens.

And lastly…what’s with the overexertion of power? Shouldn’t you HELP your friend avoid an action he considers to be heinous? Isn’t that what friends do for each other? …Instead of the angry jumps to untested conclusions?