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 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.
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