It Seems to Me . . .

Okay, okay! Bring on the hate mail.

I try very hard not to be offensive to those who are kind enough to read one or more of my blogs, but as comedian Brian Regan says (after making a similar disclaimer): “Here we go.”

We have succeeded in training a whole generation [shall we call this group “millennials”?] to: wear their feelings on their sleeve, be vigilant in watching for subtle racial innuendos, always be on guard for any hint of an ethnic or sexist remark, and react in the extreme when they encounter anything that smacks of exclusivity.

As a result we have women in combat, persons in large corporations promoted to positions beyond their capabilities simply because of their race, unisex bathrooms in some high schools, felons convicted of murder, rape, etc. who feel unfairly treated because they were tried in the adult criminal justice system when they were still just juveniles (allegedly unable to make adult decisions or understand the legal nomenclature of the courtroom), and health insurance companies unable to keep up with the nuances of our redefinitions of human sexuality, gender identification, and the resultant ramifications.

We have created a society whose undercurrent of sensitivity is so vast we scarcely know how to function. We fear litigation at every turn, and so we are first-and-foremost in the business of protecting ourselves against possible objections, even fortuitous ones.

Television shows like The Office make light of our dilemma by showing the office manager (Michael Scott, played by Steve Carell) being anything BUT sensitive as he manages a failing paper company, and sets the tone for the group of misfits in his Scranton office.

Of course, we laugh. Not only because the situations depicted are so uncomfortable, but also because the office misfits are so believable to us. Exaggerated, yes. But close enough to the real thing that we experience identification.

But in our real worlds . . . we no longer know how to laugh about these things.

And so, when a supposed expert was asked (in a recent NPR interview) about the racial discrimination that exists currently even on Ivy League college campuses, he cited as one example (and he said there were more than one hundred) a situation where a college professor is discussing poverty and/or the ghetto, and he automatically looks to the African-American students for personal insights on the subject.

Granted, the chances these students have experienced that to which he refers is very small. But the fact that he seems to look to them reveals his own prejudices and misinformation. If that is all the prejudice and misinformation experienced by students in that classroom in a semester, then I say they are very fortunate.

What is just as likely, however, is that someone reading this blog might criticize me for suggesting the professor is a “he” and not a “she.” That is the extent to which we have become infected by this insistence and obsession on equality.

We have produced a generation of thin-skinned, militaristic, passionately misdirected persons who have embraced a watchword that unifies them: social justice. Of course, in and of itself this theme is admirable. But the proverbial “devil is in the details.”

And now this point of view has spilled over into older generations, too. We are fast becoming a society quick to take offense, our fists poised to fight, guns drawn, feet planted, ready to charge ahead with our sword out of its scabbard. That may seem appropriate in our current terrorist climate, but it is way out of place when the only terror we experience is someone else’s ignorance or lack of understanding.

You will never legislate that out of existence.

When I was in college I was part of a group of students that tried to oust a professor; we had decided he was “too liberal” to be teaching us. He was a fine man. He just had a bit more “open” view of things than a number of us. We decided that the proverbial “tail” ought to be able to “wag the dog.” I no longer recall what happened to him now.

What I do know is that in years to come I far surpassed the liberalism of the ideas he espoused. But in those early years I had put myself in a position to critique and expose someone from whom I should have listened, learned, and considered.

It seems to me that the current social dilemma we are in encourages the ones who ought to be learning to instead be judge and jury for those who ought to be instructing. And in the midst of this upheaval an atmosphere of injustice has been spawned; a doctrine that purports unity, equality, and fairness has instead birthed a bastard whose heart and soul is all about highlighting the differences between races, ethnicities, and genders.

Of course, I am a white, southern born, middle-class male in my sixties. So, my point of view should be discounted, I suppose. But it seems to me we have empowered the bullies, coddled the criminals, and created a society that waves the flag of freedom while simultaneously controlling every move its patrons make.

Well, if you have read this far . . . Thanks! I needed to get that off my chest.

I know there are persons who have been badly hurt in this world, minorities that have experienced painful discrimination I can never hope to comprehend. And our country has made some horrible mistakes in its history, sometimes with full intent. But the way we sometimes seek to heal the wounds is not productive at all.

And I fear the misguided attitudes that power our attempts at social therapy will inadvertently produce citizens who only understand the pronouns “we” and “us” as they are juxtaposed with a “them.”

About ivanbenson

I am a singer, guitar player, writer, story teller, voice over talent, and heart attack survivor in the Atlanta, Georgia area.
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16 Responses to It Seems to Me . . .

  1. Lisa Petty says:

    I totally agree. Nice article.

  2. Gary Janney says:

    Very well nuanced, you gave it just the right attitude, and, you gave out a bit of wisdom as well. Age brings a few things to us..huh? Excellent piece, Ivan.

  3. Rod Myers says:

    Ivan, you did good. My challenge is to not become what I hate. Finding appropriate responses to those I might believe are blind and deceived in some matter, thus perpetuating the very thing I dislike in them, is a challenge. Our only hope out of this dismal swamp is a clear standard of how to walk through a world filled with ignorance, prejudice, superior attitudes, and good old fashioned sin. There is only one who is good. We need to fall in behind HIM (not her) and let Him lead us all to higher ground.

  4. Monica Benson says:

    Outstanding article! Bold but kind to all !

  5. tdubya says:

    Thanks for speaking up. I agree. I shudder to think of the world we would live in that accommodates that level of cultural immaturity.

  6. Ivan, I applaud the boldness required even to try to express those complex reactions to a complex mix of situations and agendas with socio-emotional land mines at every turn. As you know, these aren’t simple matters in which one point of view has it all right…and another all wrong. Opposing sides each contain measures of silliness and dedication, stupidity and brilliance, openness and narrowness. What makes it harder—as you’ve acknowledged—is that you yourself observed and interacted with that complex mix in different ways as time went along, i.e., the changing “you” over time brought further complexity and modification to perception of the issues. As I read, I wondered which of your statements I disagree with I’ll later agree with…and which I agreed with that I’ll later disagree with. Such is the rush of events, new considerations, new sensitivities and, yes, old sensitivities laid aside. The world is nothing if not bewilderingly exciting.

  7. Nate says:

    Well this one grabbed my attention quick! I too find myself very concerned about the current ideals we as a country possess in the way of social acceptance and toleration. When a group of people start confusing the ideas of “acceptance of all people” for “acceptance of all opinions”, the lines of truth become blurred and sometimes even erased. When a society spends it’s time removing truth from it’s infrastructure, there is no longer a rightful basis from which to distinguish right from wrong, and no grounds on which to say to another “you shouldn’t be doing that” or “that’s not good for you”. Everything becomes relative to our individual perception and desire, and in turn we have a multitude of god’s who haven’t the tiniest clue as to what is “good” for them, or for their neighbor.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the matter, Ivan. Some very heavy but much needed discussion in our present culture.

  8. Suzanne says:

    YES a thousand times over!!!!! Most of the time I feel like EVERYONE just needs to cool their jets and not constantly looking for how they were offended…how big do we all think we are that our own thoughts or ideas should never be challeged or disagreed with…I mean seriously – it’s pretty childish. Thanks for saying it like it is – really appreciated it!

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