I started to come around to this topic in my last post, and I’d like to delve a little more deeply today. I think one of the most fundamental things about someone’s character is how they treat others that they consider “less” than themselves. Less beautiful, less affluent, less privileged, etc. The issue here is that they think of them as less of a person. Just because someone has less money than you (something that can be objectively calculated) does not make them any less of a person. Nor does the perception that they are “less attractive” or “less moral” (things that cannot be objectively determined).
But the thing that has been at the forefront of my mind lately is the uproar about gay marriage. I don’t want to start a knock-down, drag-out argument here, because I think that there have already been far too many on this topic. Many of you know that I am a Christian, and I’m sure you are (unfortunately) aware of how many “Christians” have been reacting to the subject of gay marriage. People who know me well know exactly how I feel about that subject.
Let me put forth this idea: REGARDLESS of whether you think that gay marriage should be legalized (an issue that should be resolved between you and God, not you and some reporter, or you and Facebook) there is no excuse for the hate-mongering that has been going on in the name of Christ, any more than invoking the name of Allah excuses what happened on 9-11.
The issue here is not even really about gay marriage, or equal rights, or all of the other catch phrases that everyone keeps spouting off. The core issue is respect. The moment we allow ourselves to consider someone, ANYONE, as less than a full human being, we are on dangerous ground. For a soon as we convince ourselves that someone is not “worthy” of something that everyone else is worthy of, we have in our mind committed a crime, and our behavior will inevitably follow.
This is how ethnic cleansing gets justified in the minds of those who perpetrate it. You may think that statement is a little extreme, but I don’t. It all starts somewhere. It just takes baby steps of marginalizing a group, a little bit at a time, and before we know it, we’ve rationalized all sorts of inhumane treatment.
And now I’ll rant for just a little bit about Facebook. I have a Facebook account, and I check it fairly regularly (although not as often as some people in my life would like me to). In general, I like the idea of being able to keep up with what’s going on in the lives of my friends and family that I don’t get to see as often as I would like. The problem I have with Facebook is that some people use it as a tool to hurt others, while hiding behind the separation.
Most people wouldn’t say many of the things they post on Facebook directly to someone’s face. (Some would, but they’re a different topic altogether.) It’s easier to be rude when you’re not face to face with the person you’re being rude to. It seems like some people think that being physically removed from the situation gives you permission to be a bully.
So I guess I could quote Craig Ferguson at this point. Before you decide to run off at the mouth, think about these things:
- Does this need to be said? (Maybe it’s something that shouldn’t be said at all)
- Does this need to be said by me? (Maybe it needs to be said, but I’m not the best person to say it)
- Does this need to be said by me right now? (Maybe I need to say it, but this is not the right time, or I’m not currently in the best frame of mind)
I might add a fourth: Does this need to be said in these words? You see, I have no problem with sharing your opinion. It is the timing and the wording that often leave something to be desired. You can still speak your mind without being deliberately hateful. Consider whether there is a way to select your words carefully in order to still convey your message without inciting complete verbal warfare. Because we can never have a constructive dialog on any topic once it breaks down into name-calling. Come on, people. This is not the elementary school playground.
Some people even use FB as an opportunity to argue with, shame, or otherwise manipulate their significant others. This is probably the type of post I find the saddest, because it is a sign of a relationship in dire trouble. If you can’t resolve your issues between yourselves, getting your friends to take sides on FB is definitely NOT going to help the situation.
It seems like I kind of ended up focusing on gay rights, only because it has been a very recent, very loud source of discord, but this concept really applies to any other topic that we tend to argue about. If you would like to cultivate your inner beauty, one of the most important characteristics to work on is to learn to respect ALL others, even if they don’t agree with you. This doesn’t mean that you can’t state your case, or that you’re not free to disagree. It means that you make a conscious decision to not tear others down with your words just because they don’t believe the same way you believe.
It’s not easy. Those topics that get us really riled up are the ones that we feel the most strongly about, and we really WANT to lambaste the person who doesn’t agree. But consider whether there is a better way to state your case without outright aggression.
What do you think? I’m not really asking whether you think gay marriages should be recognized (although I suppose you are free to post that as long as it’s civil!) I’m asking if you think that we have allowed the impersonal aspect of the internet to excuse our verbal attacks on one another. Do you think that we have gotten significantly less considerate? Do you think respect for the feelings of others is a thing of the past? Have you ever posted something in anger and regretted it later? Do you sometimes (often) wish people would PM each other instead of getting into an argument on their page, for all the world to see?