Thursday, May 15, 2014

Dear White Guy

Dear white guy,
I know you think it is funny when you make jokes about serious things. By serious I mean anything unhappy that doesn’t, in your view, affect you directly.

Things like rape, racism, foreign countries, urban poor, are best dealt with by saying something negative and pithy. Negative because if you say everything is stupid then you aren’t being racist. Because you hate all stupidity equally. There is a lot of stupidity out there, everywhere really, and you hate it all.
I get it. You are right, a lot of things are not as they should be and a lot of those things, we created. I understand you are a hard working guy who probably has kids that whine and the last thing you need is adults who do the same. You wish those grownups would heed the advice you give your own, “shut up and get back to work.”

I get it. I get it and please understand I mean this sincerely-
You are jack-ass.

I do not normally name call and that word is not one I ever say out loud, but I thought it the best word to most concisely and accurately communicate to you, in words that you appreciate, how you are acting.
First, let me say that condemning everything accomplishes nothing. No. That isn’t true. It accomplishes the annoyance of all who come within earshot of your wisdom. Even worse, and more troubling is that such an attitude makes you completely tone deaf to issues that are in fact important. To you.
Let me illustrate with a story.

When my oldest kid was four she whined a lot. Every night at bed time we had argument and tantrums. Every meal was a negotiation. Every morning getting dressed was a display of dramatic energy, noise, anger, and trouble. It was more than annoying and my wife and I did our best to not only resist giving into ridiculous demands but squash their genesis.

On one evening my child launched into a screaming fit because the world had conspired against her and the clock had actually struck 8:00. Bed time. What injustice! She kicked, screamed, complained, and I ignored it all. I sent her to bed. She got back up asking for water. I sent her to bed. She yelled down the stairs that she needed a night light. I responded, “go to bed.”

“I feel sick.”
“Go to bed.”
“I need medicine.”
“Go to bed.”
“I can’t breathe.”
“Go to bed.”

She was persistent and she was loud. She began really holding onto this I can’t breathe thing, but I ignored it as she was yelling I can’t breathe in between blood curdling screams. Around midnight, because my softy of a wife made me, I took little miss I can’t breathe to the emergency room. The nurse at the desk didn’t ask a single question, just looked at the child and rushed us to the back room.
We spent three days in the hospital trying to get my daughters newly diagnosed asthma under control. We now travel with an inhaler and have to use it regularly.

Sitting next to that little girl for three days was humbling. The kid spent hours telling me she couldn’t breathe and I not only ignored it but resented it. I was quite the jack-ass.

The whole time my daughter was yelling things I assumed she was making things up. I ignored her. I bet if she would have yelled, “Dad, your laptop is in my bed,” I would have rushed upstairs just to make sure it wasn’t. If she would have screamed, “Wow I found a 100 dollar bill,” I would have rushed upstairs to reclaim it. Because to me and my life money and laptops matter. Going to bed at 8 and one little glass of water are silly.

Racism isn’t silly. Neither is rape or poverty. Many of you can go a whole lifetime without visiting the proverbial ER on these things because you aren’t black, a woman, or poor. Maybe you have never seen someone raped, surely never done it, never said the N word, and you work hard for the little money you get, so of course those things aren’t as big a problem as those whiny four year olds say they are.
How arrogant and selfish is it to assume that you know best in other people’s lives? How, when others are explaining, or screaming, about their experience, do you come to the conclusion that you know the truth about them better than they do? Why when someone is speaking or explaining about hard truths, would you mock and belittle?

Stop it.

Stopping and listening is harder than ignoring and mocking. Because ignoring and mocking is stupid. The stupid thing is always easiest.

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