Thursday, February 14, 2013

Too Many Crying Wolf

When I was in elementary school, my best friend was a black boy named Mark.  His father owned a small store in his neighborhood and his family lived only a few blocks from mine.  Our parents had met while volunteering at our school and became great friends.  Mark was either at my house or I was at his most weekends as we rode bicycles, skateboards or just ran around being kids.  It didn’t matter that I was white or that he was black.  We knew nothing of racism at that age, only friendship.

During the early years of our marriage, Char and I were best friends with an interracial couple, David and Cathy.  Many weekends found us either playing cards around one kitchen table or the other, taking the kids camping, or just grilling out sharing stories and friendship.

For several years, most of my friends were Lebanese, Iranian, or Egyptian.   Together, we celebrated life and shared the varying aspects of our cultures as we worked alongside each other and hung out together when the clock was punched.  I’ve had friends who were Christian, atheist, Muslim, Pagan, and witches.  I’ve enjoyed the company of naturalists and nerds as well as the very loose and the very straight-laced, the narrow-minded and the very open.  I’ve been friends with a wide diversity of people and have loved every minute of every relationship.

It’s been that way all of my life.  My friendships have been based on a person’s character, not their race, religion, or culture.  How a person treats my family and me determines whether I hang out with them in the future or not.  I don’t judge by skin color, culture, religion, age, sexual orientation, or whether they’re a Gator fan or not - a good thing since I married one.  I know not everyone behaves the same way or acts it.  And while I don’t believe prejudice is as bad as it was fifty or sixty years ago, I am not naïve enough to think it’s been eradicated from our world or even our country.

However, I believe we need to be careful what we label as racist and prejudice.  Today it has become a thing that some use to hide behind and justify ignorant behavior.  Case in point, my “online bully.”  If you don’t know what I’m referring to, read yesterday’s post.  The story in a nutshell, though, is this person on Twitter became all upset because I thanked him for following me.  Basically, his response was “You dnt noe me & u be tlkin 2 me,” and yes, he spoke that way, or rather typed that way.  He then finished it by saying, “White people think they can get away with anything.”

Now, my first thought was if he didn’t want to talk to me why in the world did he follow me in the first place.  I mean, social media is about being…well…social, right?  It’s about interaction with other people.  The part that rubbed me wrong was the white people comment.  When did a simple greeting become an issue of race?  Why pull the race card, at all?

I think the prejudice card gets pulled too easily, nowadays.  We see it in courts and business.  It’s as if it’s the first line of defense for some who have no other defense.

“My boss hates me because I’m_____!”  Insert the race, gender, religion, or culture of your choice.  Now, in some cases that may very well be true.  However, in others it might be because the person simply sucks at his job.  Or hers - I don’t want to be accused of being prejudiced in this writing.  He’s lazy, shows up late, or never finishes his work on time.  The only issue is his work ethic; nothing else.  Yet, people are afraid to take action because of fear of a prejudicial suit against them.  At times, we’re crippled from getting the best people we can because too many have cried wolf in the past.

The fight against prejudice and for equal rights has lost some of its power because it’s been used as a scare tactic too much.  People are tired of hearing the cry to rally around someone when it’s merely a distraction from the real issue of the person screwing up and deserving what happens to him.  It should never be a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card.  Equal Rights means equal responsibility and equal respect.  It does not mean special.  It does mean you get treated the same as everyone else and you pull your weight in this world just like everyone else. 

Sometimes, it’s not about prejudice at all, but about the person being an idiot.  And that would be the only thing I’m prejudiced against.  Stupidity.

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For Further Reading ~ Politically Incorrect
                                We Should All Wear Diapers
                               The Rights of Chickens

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  1. Wow, you sure had your hands full with this guy, didn't you? I agree that everything is far too PC today causing the real injustices to be swept under the carpet. I'm like you in that I have a very diverse group of friends and I like it that way, it's what makes the world go round. Sadly, I also agree that we have gotten to a place where it's almost reverse discrimination because everyone is so afraid of being accused or labeled as this or that. Laziness, sub-par performance and a host of other behaviors are now the norm because it almost becomes too much of a headache to deal with the problem than to ignore it. Don't even get me going on sexual harassment!! LOL Back in the day when I was in an office setting, we would have never spent our office time doing anything but our work because it was labeled as stealing and grounds for firing, no bs and no questions asked.

    1. I agree with the backwards flip. It's reversed anymore and all of it just needs to stop. It's become a shield for obnoxious behavior in too many cases. I had this same talk with my kids. If they want to be respected as everyone else they need to show that respect. You don't get what you want by being an obnoxious person and you can hurt your cause more than help it that way.

      As always, thanks for visiting and commenting, my friend. I hope people pop over to and read your great Chuckles.

  2. Great post Robbie - It feels like many (not everyone) people of every shape, size, color, gender are looking for any opportunity to say they have been discriminated against in some way. I cracked up when I saw that this person found an issue with you saying thank you because I had a similar thing happen. I handle twitter accounts for several different brands/companies and one of the things I make an effort to do each morning is to thank folks who have RT'd or mentioned them in a kind way. For example "Good morning! Big thanks to x, y, and z for the RTs and kind mentions." I was surprised when one of those people wrote back and said they didn't appreciate being mentioned because, in their opinion, it gave the impression that they endorsed the product. Oy. Anyhoo, now I feel like I know a bit more about you! People who don't include or welcome a rainbow of friends into their lives have no idea with they're missing!

    1. To me it's just good manners and said that people don't recognize that. When my kids were growing up we would insist on "Sir" and "Ma'am" when they are answering people or thanking them. One person tried to get them to stop saying it wasn't needed and I had to say that while they may not need to hear it the children needed to say it. We've fallen backwards in politeness.

      Never stop, Jen! Thanks for visiting and commenting and good luck in all you do. I wish you great success.

  3. Rob, when I was in college, I took a sociology class and the first thing the teacher did was give us a test. He didn't tell us what it was for. It consisted of 50 multiple choice questions. At the end we had to tally up how many "A" answers we had, "B" answers and so forth. I had answered all fifty questions by circling the A answer. When the teacher asked if anyone had answered A to all fifty questions, he was stunned when I raised my hand. I was the first in any of his classes to ever do so. He told us the test was a measure of how prejudiced we were. I was the least prejudiced person he had ever come across, and he had been giving that same test for years. A black guy in our class had circled zero A's. The teacher was a little stunned by that one too. He was the most prejudiced person he had ever come across. The black student said he hated everyone that wasn't black. I was asked how I felt about that knowing that this guy hated me without even knowing anything about me. I told them that I didn't hate anyone, not even him, and that it must be a terrible way to live with so much hate. I still feel that way.

    1. A great way to live your life, Robert. And it's a lot more peaceful to live without hate and prejudice than it is to carry it around. It only makes for bitter people. Thanks for visiting and commenting, my friend.