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It’s a Trap!
July 10, 2020 – The fifth blog of the ReconstructionAge
I apologize for not posting last Friday. It was indeed a beer-infused evening and I had written a blog earlier in the week all ready for publication, but come Friday, wasn’t feeling it. It’s on the back burner for now and will appear at some point as it is more of a feel-good post. With the heat of the week and the news cycle shifting back to the Coronavirus, as well as some other things that have happened, I’m feeling more unsure of things as I write this week’s blog post. Hang in there with me.
So, seriously, how fucked up is 2020? While some our problems are long stemmed, the picture of today versus 365 days ago is astounding. We were already headed to crazy town, but we somehow acquired a Disney fast pass.
I don’t remember which comedian used this, but I remember a bit about a dad literally reaching for whatever was in arm’s length to beat his kids – a remote, a toilet brush, a magazine. Everything was a weapon. I feel like that today; literally everything is being used as a weapon to make sure that others know that they aren’t on the right side of an issue or situation.
Is it me or are some (and I do mean some, not all) people extremely angry and self-righteous? They seem scared and impatient, self-important and arrogant. These emotional weapons are destructive and not the attributes that help solve any problem. Coming continually from a place of love, peace, and understanding is the only way to come at a problem in an inclusive way.
In just this last month Mike and I have had several pretty major confrontations with cars and their drivers while out on bikes. Their weapons are angry words and accusations, hand gestures out windows, confrontational motorists stopping their vehicles in intersections to approach us, near misses with lawn trailers taking out mailboxes instead of hitting us, thankfully. It’s amazing to me how dangerous impatient anger is.
For me, I’ve put in my day just like everyone and am outside doing something that brings me joy. My greatest hope is that every person in each car is headed to do something that brings them joy, too. But as people decide to use their “outside voice” at me, I wonder what gives them the right to take away my joy as they as are headed to theirs? One gentleman called me a bitch at least three times and not till I calmly asked if it was necessary did he stop cursing at me. He totally expected to trap me inside his shit show. Anger is a definite quick trigger and not getting dragged into confrontation is hard, especially when your life is on the line.
I’ve harped on the topic of masks and people angrily refusing to wear them because they just don’t want to or that they feel it infringes on their rights somehow, a concept that is inconceivable to most of us. A vaccine is coming. Not tomorrow, but by this time next year hopefully we won’t have to wear masks daily. I want to shake these people and ask, “Can’t you hold out for just a little while to keep yourself and others alive?” We all want to be able to go back to talking, laughing, and singing mask-free – trust that! Not wearing a mask at this time is probably the most un-American thing I can think of, contrary to all of the self-righteous banter about constitutional rights. Wearing a mask saves lives. On top of that, it will get our country’s economy moving faster. But don’t get caught in the net of arguing with these obstinate people. It will only shorten your own life-span.
Speaking of being American, hiding behind the idea of what you think is Patriotic to put yourself above others is ugly. You can be proud of our country, defend it totally, but still want to make it better by righting some of the wrongs from history. That’s the beauty in the principles laid out after our ancestors fought the Revolution. You can’t be a Patriot if you aren’t willing to include everyone in the freedoms and opportunities that you enjoy.* It’s because of history that we are able to pivot and change. That’s not to say that we all don’t all still make mistakes and harbor some bias occasionally (color, gender, sex, sexual orientation all included). But the conversations have opened eyes and some eyes even wider. Needed change is going to churn up a lot of emotions, watch for those trap-doors while you transverse the territory.
Social Media is a straight up fucking trap. We all know it, but we all fall into it over and over. Tensions are so high that we are all judged on the things that we choose to share. And we can certainly be judged on the things that we don’t share. Case in point: Last fall, for a costume party, Cate and some of her teammates dressed as if they were in prison or from the TV show “Orange is the New Black”. This was a theme that had to be presented and approved by a board on campus. Just this past week, an anonymous person posted on a campus sensitivity site how they had been offended by a photo of the girls in their costumes because her father is a victim of mass incarceration. So down went the posts and a very confused Cate on how this board approved theme went awry enough to personally cause pain to someone and that they didn’t come to her directly to tell her how they felt. She was sad and scared of what may happen from it. On the flip side, she is now afraid to post anything, including vacation photos, for fear of being called trite or called out for not posting more on the BLM cause or for fear of someone accusing her of being a fake BLM ally. She is literally paralyzed and I’ll be shocked when and if she ever posts anything again.
As I tell her, the best thing you can do is stay in your own lane. If you post, look at it through several pairs of glasses. When in doubt, don’t. Also, you don’t have to scream support for any of your friends and their causes in your posts, they are your posts; it’s your actions that speak volumes. So does standing up for the right things when it’s the hardest. These are usually done far away from cameras and chances to post. If you know in your heart where you are and back that up with what you say, how you act and how you make people feel, then you’re good. Fuck social media, post your horseback trail riding photo if you want.
One of my favorite stories about Maya Angelou is how when she had get togethers and a guest said something out of line or told a joke that was off-color, she asked them to leave immediately. You knew that when you went to Maya’s house that you were held the the highest of standards. That’s how we should be. Not screaming what we believe in an “in your face” way, but being intolerant when someone vehemently disrespects our beliefs and space.
I would say the majority of us are trying to use as much empathy as possible and are willing to walk a mile in another’s shoes, but don’t be surprised if someone around you says something you think is off. Don’t get trapped by people wielding whatever weapon they have on hand. Use love, peace and understanding to deal with them. Getting angry will only drive you further away from each other and a resolution. Stay in your lane, but know what your lane is. If they are using that plane as a weapon, just pump the brakes and let them fly on by. (vague Top Gun reference – can’t wait for the new movie to come out.)
In the end, people just want to be seen and heard. They just tend to grab for the closest thing in arm’s reach to try to get your attention. But it’s a trap. Look at them, let them know “I see you” and watch that weapon hit the ground as quickly as it was grabbed.
Hang in there friends. Cooler temps are coming.
**Special note: Confederates were not Patriots, they were traitors.