Letter to my friends on facebook

This one is for my friend, an excellent man, kind, sensitive, talented, and I believe, good to the bone. He is sensitive in the best of ways and so feels uncomfortable when out-of-the-norms conversations come up.

Empathy is a two-way street. The current cultural narrative is one where certain classes of people are put upon by those who are perceived as being advantaged in life. The key word is “perceived.” I have spent my life listening to people telling me their side of the story. I know it well, and am willing to bet that if I cannot, on the spot, be an excellent advocate for their point of view, that I could do so in very short order. Put me to the test. Remember my friends, I do, and have lived among you. Some of you are my family, others are excellent friends.

These are the same people who would tell me that because I am white, because I am straight, because I am male, because I am this, that or the other that somehow, I should not speak up.

Few have bothered to ask if I, or those of my “class” have our share of ups and downs, advantages and disadvantages. Those few who have asked, typically don’t listen to hear, but to challenge, to place my experiences on the scale of their point of view, rather than to weigh them on a more universal, impartial, fully human and empathetic one where we can all come to a deeper understanding and hopefully, a better relationship. Few, I believe could advocate well for my position. When people put up facebook posts that imply that certain people are a victim class, to others who are the oppressor class, I feel uncomfortable, because not only do they tend to one-sided, they are often based on demonstrably false ideas. When I speak to it, I am told to “hush.” It’s a very gentle and soft way to say “shut up, your words should not be spoken.”

Rocking the boat makes people feel uncomfortable. We should not make our friends or family feel uncomfortable. Do you care if I’m uncomfortable? Or do simply you want me to like a post and move on, ’cause that means I care about you. When I challenge ideas, I am challenging ideas, not your dignity, or value, or worth as a human being. I challenge the ideas that assault my dignity as a human being. Would you be willing to abandon a friendship because talk makes you uncomfortable? I value my relationships _because_ we can talk about uncomfortable subjects.

My question is: Why should I be quiet? It is a sincere question, that I would like to discuss honestly among good people that I genuinely consider friends.

If you want to take this up in private that’s fine by me.

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3 thoughts on “Letter to my friends on facebook

  1. Emma the Emo says:

    If the man you are talking about is a true friend, perhaps you can discuss it and at least agree to disagree about your political opinions. I think when you have totally different opinions about something personally important, you either have to break up over it, or agree to disagree and avoid the topic. If someone has a specific political opinion because they have a specific personal need, it’s good to respect that need, even if you don’t agree with the political opinion. For example, it’s possible for atheists and religious people to be friends, but don’t start arguing about religion too much, because that’s a deeply personal thing to many people.

    • Francis Roy says:

      I agree. My problem is that I don’t tolerate “shut up” when we haven’t even gotten to speak to the matter. “I disagree, here’s why” is fine. We quibble a bit, test each other’s lines and mutually decide that it’s not worth it. “Shut up” is just not acceptable. I used to turn myself inside out over my friend’s opinions. I’m now ready to dump them on the spot if they aren’t willing to have honest discussion. I’m too old to care, and I know that I can build a relationship with anyone who is willing to be honest with me.

      This has been a very, very weird day for me. That’ll teach me to quit smoking.

  2. Tarnished says:

    “When I challenge ideas, I am challenging ideas, not your dignity, or value, or worth as a human being. I challenge the ideas that assault my dignity as a human being. Would you be willing to abandon a friendship because talk makes you uncomfortable? I value my relationships _because_ we can talk about uncomfortable subjects.”

    Too many people don’t understand this. I’ve especially found that feminists, Christians, Liberals, and SJWs are particularly upset with having open and honest discussions when it challenges their worldview…but are all too eager to give a long-winded diatribe on how *you* are wrong. Of course, Conservatives and atheists can do this too, but in my neck of the woods they are quieter or more subtle with their disagreements.

    Re: Quitting smoking
    Congratulations! I’m so happy you are doing this! I’ve seen too many of my family members be claimed by lung cancer, live with emphysema, have to carry around oxygen tanks, etc. This is a fantastic step towards taking care of your health, and it’s awesome that you are doing this for you. :)

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