On staying silent

This past week has been rough for America, on top of an already rough year. I don’t think any sane American can look over the divisive political race or the devastating number of people shot through various means and think everything is peachy right now. I don’t have an answer or a solution or even advice for other people who are dealing with this; I can only speak for myself.

Through the past year, I found myself becoming more vocal about certain situations, and the more I tried to persuade people of the very logical and rational things I was saying, the more angry and frustrated I became. I made a conscious decision not to post anything about the political climate on my Facebook page because I didn’t want to draw in the ire of those who might disagree with me, or those who wanted to try to convince me of their opinions, nor did I want to offend people I really like and care about who have different opinions from me. It’s a well known fact that you can’t change someone’s mind by arguing with them on the internet, and if it isn’t a fact it should be. The internet gives us the ability to think through our arguments, planning with carefully researched data points and articles to reinforce our position, but to what end? The other guy is doing the same damn thing, and all it really does is bolster our own opinion of how right we are.

So, no more politics on my page. I was much happier, until last week. We saw some terrible events unfold last week, and I was truly devastated by them. Those of you who know me know I am extremely patriotic. I fly my flag, I support our troops, I teach my Girl Scouts patriotic songs, I place flags on veterans markers at the cemetery. I cry when I read about the death of a police officer, heck a police dog will have me bawling. I respect our law enforcement officers and I fear for the LEOs I know because their jobs are dangerous and getting worse every day it seems.

Strangely enough, if you believe that police brutality should be investigated and eliminated, to some people that means you are anti-police. This is not the case. The same as I believe doctors should not be given a pass on malpractice that injures a patient, a police officer should not be able to use excessive force in the performance of their duties. There are thousands of police officers who maintain ethics and standards every single day, regardless of the fact that they usually see Americans at their worst. They do not roll up on people in the best mood of their lives, happy and sharing lemonade and sunshine with all who cross their paths. The fact remains that the percentage of officers who find themselves in the spotlight or on the evening news is a very small percentage of officers in America, but these are the ones shaping the country’s view of how law enforcement works. These are the exception to the rule, and these are situations that warrant an investigation.

After the shooting of a man sitting in his car, I said something on a friend’s post. What I said at the time is not important. What is important is that a mutual acquaintance took offense to what I said. He not only argued at me in public, but then followed me into Facebook Messenger and sent me messages every day for several days. I repeatedly told him to stop messaging me, which he ignored, all so he could “prove he was right” about me. Whatever that means. He accused me of not supporting the police because I didn’t change my Facebook status to denounce the terrible shooting of police officers in Dallas, all while ignoring the fact that I hadn’t said anything about any shooting of any person.

Do I really need to publicly state that I am devastated, outraged and weep for our country?

I am, and I do.

Do I really need to justify myself to someone I have literally met one time for five minutes?

No, no I do not.

This has led me to evaluate how I use Facebook, and I think I’m going to stay silent for a while. I’ll be there, looking at posts and pictures, I might even like some. I don’t think, though, that I am going to be using it to define who I am for someone who doesn’t really know me. Facebook is something that makes you feel like you know someone, or makes you feel like you are keeping in touch with friends and family, when in reality people really only post what they want you to see about their lives. If you want to really get to know me, shoot me an email, find me at an event, make friends with me. I love coffee and wine, not in the same glass and not at the same time, but both are good with conversation. I’m not all that bad and I bet you aren’t either. I might disagree with you on something, but that doesn’t make either of us bad people. If we can talk about our opinions in a healthy fashion, it might actually make us better friends and stronger individuals. It’s amazing what actual conversation can do. Until such time as I don’t fear I will be harassed by someone who doesn’t know me, I’ll be staying silent.

 

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