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Kymberlie Ingalls is native to the Bay Area in California. She is a pioneer in blogging, having self-published online since 1997. Her style is loose, experimental, and a journey in stream of consciousness. Works include personal essay, prose, short fictional stories, and a memoir in progress. Thank you for taking a moment of your time to visit. Beware of the occasional falling opinions. For editing services: http://www.rainfallpress.com/

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Two Ears and Ten Fingers

There's an old guy sitting next to me, and he couldn't be more clichéd. I say that not as a judgment but an observation. There began a conversation between me, him and another  older lady about movies, and it morphed into his declaring he stopped going to #movies because "I go to be entertained, not to see political messages. I saw three movies in a row, and walked out on all of them. What was that one? Michael Moore? I just don't want to see it," to which my thought was then why did you pay to go see it? 

Further in, I'm likening it to the climate today of how we often go looking for a fight when it could actually be avoided. I did that myself just this morning as someone 'challenged' me on the road. 

I abandoned the conversation early on because I was watching the Vice News piece on the Charlottesville rally and it just got to the part where the car plowed into the crowd. I wasn't expecting to see that and it was shocking. I actually had to work at not crying in public.

I would pause now and then to hear what was being said next to me because the old guy was pounding the bar every so often so it was clear he was on a tear about something. He went through the usual tirades in systematic order; politics (the white people are not wrong), young people ("if I hear one more young person say 'I don't feel any passion for my job'..." and how technology has killed society), he gets harassed everywhere he goes (the bus, Safeway, TSA).

In the middle of all of this, this newer guy who has been working here comes over to introduce himself. "You're a part of my corner, every time I come around this side so I couldn't not say hello!" Turns out that for the past 20 years, he's been working at training rescue dogs for behavioral problems, saving them from being euthanized at the shelters. He came back to working as a server because he needs money to continue doing this work. I mentioned that I have friends who foster and train animals and remarked on what a good thing he's doing.

Then I come back to hearing Old Guy still going on., and she's looking a little like 'how did I get into this?' Now I'm thinking of how we have become such a society of extremism - either we're too encouraging of the younger generation by means of blind optimism or we tear them down by dismissing the things they stand for and dream of. Perhaps we've always been that way but I really believe it's stronger now. I could certainly hear it in the disdain of every one of Old Guy's words. The one thing I agreed with was how Twitter got saved in the nick of time by the madness of one man, because who doesn't like to watch a shit-show unfold in real time?

Then he stood to go, and says to the lady next to him "Thanks, this was really fun, getting to talk to you. I don't get to visit with people very often." and that was the most revealing thing he'd said all afternoon.

More than anything, isolation is what's brought us to this place. People feel so alone - detached or that they can't be their authentic selves. When they see an opening to engage, it becomes extreme in some way or another. We try to reach out to our own kind - those who validate some of what we feel, be it good, evil or nothing more than in between.

At the end of that documentary, I watched the main guy sit calmly and justify why Heather Heyer was killed. The woman interviewing him in the entire broadcast remained stoic at each thing he said. It's not something we see too often anymore; neutrality. It isn't that we shouldn't feel, it's that we should *think.* And ask questions. 

My question is ... would there be such global outrage if the person killed had been on the other side of the protest?

Most importantly, we need to listen when those questions are answered, whether it's what we want to hear or not.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Sword of Freedom

I think we should accept that "Knee-Jerk" has become the new religion of Americans and be done with it.  Let's just own who we are and move on.

We've become this cesspool of reaction without any critical thinking and the result is chaos.  As long as we have determined what is "right," everything else is wrong. 

Now, let's take a look at the mess over in Charlottesville.  For the record; I am not in support of any message that came from that protest.  I think it's horrible that we are still dealing with such a divide of race after all this time.  What happens in Virginia most certainly does not stay in Virginia, however, as one man found out.  Cole White, who works for a populary eatery in Berkeley, was spotted at the alt-right rally and targeted by social media until Top Dog decided to cave and they fired him. 

Had they fired him because he'd called in sick to attend the rally, or had he been wearing a shirt with their logo or represented them in some other way, or even that they'd waited a minute to see that sales had declined or that they simply didn't like the way his hair was combed that day, it's California so by all means - fire him.  That's all allowable by law. 

However... what isn't legal in California is to fire someone based upon their political beliefs.  If White (ironic much?) wants to be a racist on his own time and outside of the uniform, he's allowed to be just that.  Unless there was a contract that in some way stipulates that this is against company policy, they are not necessarily in the right.

When I tried to point this out in my online commentary, I was immediately cyber-attacked by way of insults of all sorts, and woke to a shitstorm of rage that had gone on all night.  When they began to remark on my selfies, I knew I'd pissed some people off.  Rather than continue the battle, I just laughed at the comedic tragedy unfolding on the internet.  One guy said "Why are you defending this creep?  It's really pathetic of you."  to which I replied "No, what's pathetic is that that's the message you all took away from this."

And when we are right, everyone else is wrong.  There is very little room for grey in the red, white and blue. 

I made this analogy that only fanned the flames as being "incredibly superficial" and "idiotic":  'What if you went to a concert and your employer felt that the artist clashed with their values, so they fired you?  Would that be fair?'  No, but in California, it'd be legal.  It may seem a silly comparison but an accurate one.  Too many don't realize that the sword of freedom swings both ways.  When we want it to cut one person from where we want them to be, it can swing back even mightier and remove you from where you want to be. 

Rights are rights.  While we may disagree over the whole speech thing, we're all allowed the freedom of it - to some degree.  You can be angry that people want to brag about their whiteness or blackness or purple hair and tattoos, but they can be just as angry at you for drinking coffee that day. 

Maybe it's time we all stopped being so damned angry and started trying to resolve.

There are better ways to handle things.  It's a shame that Top Dog didn't take the opportunity to say "we support free speech."  Instead, they catered to politics and a particular demographic as opposed to supporting "for all."  Just like OJ shouldn't be denied parole based on a prior trial with an unpopular outcome, Cole White did not kill anyone and in fact, had participated in the same rallies right there in his own hometown previous to this.  Where was the outrage then? 

Never underestimate that the justice you want to dispense can easily be handed to you as well.  I hate to bring up "the slippery slope," but it is what it is.  Step back from that ledge and think before you find yourself sliding downhill fast. 


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