Sunday Morning ~ Where We Are
Athawa mpfuu race womwe. ~ He runs from the sound of his own echo.
~ Chewa proverb
July 5, 2020
I am a sucker. I admit it. I never learn. My habit of giving the benefit of the doubt often doesn’t work out for me so I don’t know why I keep doing it. My trust issues tend to make me overcompensate in business dealings and I’ve had more than a few bad endings. These are difficult times, I get it. So when someone needed a temporary place to stay I gave him a deal on the rent when he told me he couldn’t afford the place. I knew he had a good paying job but thought his money problems were none of my business. The agreement was he’d do some needed work in exchange for reduced rent. (If anyone is considering doing this, call me first.) He was a pleasant chap, had a friendly dog, flattered me about my book, listed all the tools he had, raved about the house, and it all blurred my judgement. I rationalized that, even though I could have done the work myself, my energy could be put into other things. I assumed any decent person would make good on the agreement. But he clearly did not appreciate my generosity, or if he did he didn’t feel the need to honor it. He moved out early, let someone from out of state stay there, got defensive when I asked about it, and didn’t get his stuff out until midnight of his last day without having done any of the work. He also left the place filthy. And took the set of sheets I’d lent him. Not that I want those back.
I kicked myself as I madly cleaned, painted, scrubbed, and fixed broken wall lights (with an SOS to my neighbor for help with that) in order to get it ready in time for the next tenant. I spent a fair amount of the time complaining to myself about what an idiot I am. I didn’t even get a deposit! What a smooth talker! I told myself I will never do this again! Then thought I may have heard that before from myself. How do people live with themselves? I ruminated as I worked, listening to podcasts and oldies when I got tired of hearing myself think. Oh well. I kept my word and I get to live with that. He has to take himself with him. I always left rental properties better than I found them. It was my home and I cared for it. When we were dirt poor I’d asked a landlord if we could have a deal on the rent in exchange for fixing the place up. He refused without a hesitation. I always thought that was rigid and uncreative of him. Now I understand. I did manage to get all the work done before my new long-term tenant arrived and after a quick smudge it’s all good energy in there now. I complained to my friend that I’d never rent to entitled, privileged white males again. “Can I discriminate like that?” I asked. She said, “Probably not. Why don’t you just have a better rental contract?” Hah! She’s right, of course. I’m the one who’s gullible but wanted to blame a whole group because of one person. Hmm. What does this remind me of?
Segue to Facebook. I admit I rely on it for announcements, information, entertainment, and connection. As disgusted as I am with it’s CEO I’m still using it. It’s not like Walmart or Hobby Lobby where I can boycott the place and still live comfortably. It’s annoying that I’ve become dependent on it and am very grateful to the advertisers who have pulled their business. I don’t drink coke or would buy some just because. I try to limit the amount of time I spend on there, but am often lured into this substitute for human contact. I have blocked a couple of people whose posts I can’t tolerate but have kept some, including my brothers, for reasons I’m trying to understand. Their views disgust and embarrass me yet I hesitate to hide them. I worry about being associated with them and struggle deciding if I want anyone else to see them. Sometimes I just take the comments down, (thank goodness we are able to do this) but then I think about what it means to stay silent when someone speaks in racist language. Is removing a post staying silent? I don’t believe I will change their minds. I consider them members of a cult and who knows what it takes to get people out of cults. I mean, seriously, when career military people are defending this behavior, what else can it be but a cult? I decided to let some of the comments stay and state my truth without trying to find an exposed nerve to jab. I need to get clear about what my goal is, though, when I do engage. I’m learning more about how we perpetuate racism if we stay silent and I have a lot to learn about how to speak up effectively. Maybe just challenging it publicly is enough. I heard from an old high school friend that she really did not know what was racist about the post she put up when I simply stated it was racist. She sent me a private message asking me to explain and it was an honest request. I was moved by her question. She said she really wanted to learn what she had done wrong. I thought about how to respond because her question was so different from other provocative comments I’m used to. I told her I was glad she reached out because I really wanted to discuss it. I told her I am learning about how we perpetuate racism in our system and I’m not an expert, but can safely say that expecting black people to thank northerners for fighting the civil war is inappropriate to say the least. I explained a little of what I’d read, how our history lessons were so inadequate in school, and that I’m trying to learn more. She thanked me and took the post down. I felt good about that and want to have more discussion with her if she’s willing. Again, I’m not claiming to be an expert, only someone who wants to be more aware. I really think there are racists who are beyond the pale and pathologic, whether it is from their past experiences of abuse or from greed and narcissism, I don’t know. But I also believe there are good people who are victims of a terrible education system and are unaware of how their actions and words are affecting others.
In the voter training they said: Meet people where they are, but don’t leave them there. I like that.
Love to all,