LAST week, I published a piece I originally posted on Facebook that I said had “garnered more attention” than my other posts. To be exact, as of this writing, 1000 liked it, 63 loved it, 44 were sad, 10 were mad, 15 laughed, and 2 wow-ed. The usual critics turned up on the sad, mad, and laughing icons but I was surprised to see some vocal oppositionists “loving” it. It has been shared 323 times, and the original post has 111 comments.
It has taken me some time to go through the comments and reflect on them, with work and real life in the way. I wrote the post on a holiday, after all, and while I usually have work even on holidays, that was a rare occasion when I didn’t and had the luxury of a few hours.
I also wanted to process the comments without making knee-jerk reactions, without responding in kind to anger and sarcasm, which only tends to breed more of the same -- and I am done with that phase of my life when I have to argue every statement and decision I make.
I go with what Frank Clark said so many years ago, “We find comfort among those who agree with us, growth among those who don’t.”
Most of the negative reactions to my post accused me of hand-washing the blood supposedly on my hands and of their disappointment that I only felt disappointment but did not regret my decision. To those who felt and still feel that way, let me just say this. I respect your right to feel however you do with me or with the president or with the government, but you simply cannot dictate to me how I am supposed to feel, any more than I can dictate to you to feel as I do.
It is funny how many who preach respect, freedom and tolerance are those who cannot respect, and are intolerant of those who do not align with their way of thinking.
One of the greatest modern thinkers of our time, Bertrand Russell, gave this nugget of wisdom in his old age: “Love is wise, hatred is foolish. In this world which is getting more and more closely interconnected, we have to learn to tolerate each other, we have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don’t like. We can only live together in that way — and if we are to live together and not die together, we must learn a kind of charity and a kind of tolerance, which is absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet.”
In other words, yes, you might have the facts, and you might even be right, but if you are an insufferable prick about it, you won’t win over much to your side. And like it or not, any sort of collective outrage or movement ultimately needs the numbers to back it up.
To be fair, there were also those who welcomed my post in this light. They may not fully agree with how I felt but respected that anyway, and saw it as part of a process, and they likewise have my respect and thanks in return.
The buddha was once criticized for not being consistent with what he said. A critic confronted him saying that what he said recently flatly contradicted what he claimed over a year ago, and the critic revealed himself as having been the same person to ask him the same question a year ago, and had gotten a different answer.
The buddha brought the man to the riverbank and said, “Look at this river. It looks like it is the same river, but it is not. Every moment it is changing. The water that passes through it passes but once. It is the same with people. We may look the same, but we are ever changing in every moment. The person who asked the question a year ago is no longer the same. The person who answered that question is no longer the same.”
In the same way, the person who wrote that post is not necessarily the person writing this article. Many things have moved along the way, but you will never know if all you do is judge the river by its surface.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. View previous articles at www.freethinking.me.