It bothers me a little that people have mean, loutish, ignorant thoughts and beliefs. Not a lot. Because some of my beliefs, when I'm alone in the dark, taking my soul out and looking at it... well, there's a little of the mean, the loutish, the ignorant in me, too. I'm a human being, it's in the DNA.
But I was raised to believe that stuff like that is shameful. That expressing stuff like that will make ordinary people (who have their own Inner Mean Louts, but understand about not letting them out to play,) not want me to live near them or marry their children or work with their spouses or otherwise intersect with them socially.
The closest I let my Inner Yahoo to the surface is when I don't restrain myself from laughing at a mean joke or when I snigger at a cruelly funny remark. And even then, I prefer to do it in privacy, in front of my own computer.
When the Navy SEALs finally took bin Laden out, I admit, there was a small, nasty voice inside me yelling, "Good! I hope you had a last moment of supreme terror and regret, you vile son of a bitch-- and that the shades of every man, woman, and child who's died since you incited your mindless vicious minions to hijack planes in 2001 rise up to accuse you before your Prophet and your God." I admit it. I had those thoughts.
But I tried NOT to express them. Because my Socially Appropriate, Acceptable Self-- the one I resisted acquiring as a child, rebelled against as a teen, chafed against as a young adult, made friends with reluctantly and ultimately learned to appreciate deeply-- told me that the proper, socially appropriate response to that event was more along the lines of: "Well, I'm glad it's over. I would have preferred that he could be brought to trial in a court of law, I would have preferred that no one, not even that sick barstid, die by my government's decree, but I understand the reasons and if this was how it went down, well, I'll make my peace with it."
I have anger-- anger I believe to be righteous and justified-- at the evil done by many of my fellow human-beings. But I try to express that anger in socially appropriate ways. Will I march, will I chant, will I shake my fist and holler? Yes, there are times and places for that.
Will I laugh and applaud tragedy, cruelty, and dehumanization of others? No matter how much evil they may do, I will try hard to condemn actions, express outrage at wrongs, and state opposition to positions and opinions strongly, but without dehumanizing those whom I oppose.
I see a world becoming more habituated to thuggery, to cruelty, to dehumanization. I see a world where politeness, good manners, respectful disagreement, and standards of adult discourse are being shattered and degraded and thrown aside for strident self-expression of beliefs and opinions. I see a world where it's socially appropriate to laugh about the tragedy of people being put to death (hah-hah! YOU DESERVE IT, SUCKER!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!) I see a world where people seeking positions of leadership and authority see no need to remonstrate with thuggish public boo-ing of a service member based on his sexual orientation.
I see a world getting meaner, smaller-souled, colder and more darwinist. (And isn't that just the ultimate in irony? That people who believe the Earth was created 6,000 years ago nevertheless embrace and avow a creepy principle misnamed for the man who first articulated the reasoned science of evolution?)
I see a nation re-shaping its social norms based on the social norms of a suburban junior high school. A nation where adults are not expected to exercise control in presenting their opinions and feelings. Where disagreement stays forever at the level of schoolyard bullying and playing the dozens, and there seems to be no more will to impose any kind of expectations of adult, thoughtful interaction among people who disagree.
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