Respecting your elders

Friday May 11, 2007 @ 02:17 PM (UTC)

I’ve long been locked in a quandary. Due to certain circumstances, I am often on the receiving end of the most appalling rightwing glurge. I know some of you, my friends, have a similar problem. This stuff ranges from the merely insipid to the racist, the sexist, and the appallingly regressive. And whenever I find these things in my inbox, I want to protest. But I never have.

Why don’t I? It’s partially politeness. It’s partially an unwillingness to vent the torrent of my spleen on sweet little old people, however wrong-headed. We are taught, after all, to respect our elders. They’ve lived and suffered and so on and so forth. But isn’t this just a sort of ageism? If a 30-year-old sent me this, wouldn’t I feel honor-bound to tell him or her off? Are we really respecting our elders, or are we assuming their brains are atrophied, their ideas are fixed, and they are so intractable that hearing their worldview challenged will harm them?

I don’t think older people are feeble-minded, stupid or inflexible. I know and love a woman who changed her political party in her 70s, after all. So can I in all conscience say that I am respecting these other elders by being dishonest?

It’s a hard question for me, all the harder because if I upset them, I’m not the only one who’s going to have to deal with the fallout. I have been trying to deal with it by ignoring and not reading, but occasionally I fail, or I assume something will be innocuous that actually contains a subtextual cylinder of nerve gas. The attitudes and strictures that are being so gleefully embraced and trumpeted are not new. They’re as old as fear, conformity, and the valuing of comfort over individuality and liberty. They are nestled down deep into psyches and hearts, protected by layers of religion and social convention. There is nothing I can do to budge them or fight them. But don’t I owe it to myself to protest? Wouldn’t I like someone to tell the footsoldiers of orthodoxy that we aren’t all like them? Wouldn’t I like that someone to be me?


A troll who is oblivious about being a troll is still a troll. You don’t challenge trolls, but ignore them consistently so they might eventually get tired of their futile enterprise – in this case a feeble attempt at indoctrination.

It would only cause consternation and frustration and friction, and nothing else would change. The philosophy I have been trying to adopt in my advancing years is to choose my battles, conserving my resources for use on things I have some hope of changing. If I use them all up fighting unwinnable battles, I won’t have any left to use when I could actually accomplish something. :)

I think if it felt like indoctrination I wouldn’t be so irked by it, because that would explicitly acknowledge that I don’t agree with it :p It more seems like…entertainment-propaganda, like we’re all supposed to slap our knees or daub our eyes and say, “Oh yes! It’s so true! Muslims are dumb and women should stay home and erase themselves!” I feel uncomfortably like silence is read as assent.

But you’re probably right.

I’m sure you and Greystork are right. I’m just whining about it a bit.

Whining is therapeutic. :)

I see it as a sign of insecurity, actually, so I don’t think you should worry that silence is taken as consent. It would be very reassuring for the source of your miscontent if you were to slap your knees and agree to all those backward opinions – to confirm their righteousness. By not jumping on the bandwagon, I believe you make your own opinions adequately known.

There’s a Monty Python sketch that comes to mind, about such an insecure fellow, seeking confirmation in his blindly accepted and very warped views on things about which he really doesn’t have the slightest inkling.

Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, aye, aye? Say no more, say no more! ;o)

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