“Your Right To Live Isn’t As Important As….”

Not all cops.

Not all white people.

Not all Muslims.

Not all Southerners.

Not all Texans.

Not all Republicans.

Not all Liberals.

Not all men.

We’re really not that different. We see these horrible things that are happening in our country and immediately want to distance ourselves. If they look like us, if they live like us, if they like the same things we like, if they work with us, if they live in our towns, on our streets, in our homes and do something horrible our immediate reaction is “But I’m not like that” and “The good people who I know and love aren’t either!”

Well, no shit, Sherlock.

Of course you aren’t. **pats your head and smiles at you reassuringly**

When did we get so incredibly defensive? Or, more to the point, why? The simplest way to put it is that we’re scared. We’re scared to be lumped in with the evil-doers. We’re scared of being falsely accused. Most of all, we’re scared that we can’t see who is dangerous. Who can we trust? Children, and, let’s face it some adults, are afraid of the dark because they can’t see what might be a danger to them. Is there a monster under the bed waiting to grab your ankles? Is there a minefield of Legos threatening your feet? Is there something hidden in the lack of light that will somehow cause harm? If the person in that uniform is supposed to be a good guy and isn’t, how do we know?

I don’t have any grand answers. I can’t offer a perfectly “acceptable to all” compromise. But I can suggest something that has seemed to work for me. When you read or see a news segment, sit down to think about what happened without commentary. Temporarily disregard profession, race and religion; it gets tedious to follow, but it’s effective.   Example:

Person A is a 7 year old child. Person B is an adult. Person A did some that Person B considered rude and Person B told Person A as much. Person A became upset and cried. Person A told Person C that Person B yelled at them. Person C is Person A’s parent. Person C confronted Person B. The confrontation was verbally aggressive. Person B apologized and didn’t think they scolded Person A. Person B was obviously annoyed at the whole situation and started to walk away. Person C continued to be verbally aggressive and wouldn’t let Person B leave. They exchanged heated words and insults. Person B tried to leave again and Person C wrestled them to the ground.

If someone yells at your kid, you get to be annoyed. If the person apologizes and whether they seem to be sorry or not, you still get to be annoyed. Most of us would mutter more insults and curses and usher our child away from the whole thing. The goal is to get your child away from the perceived danger; if you want to express your anger, fine. You don’t get to physically attack them. Your profession or skin color or religious beliefs do not matter. If you don’t agree with that conclusion, I don’t want to be in an argument with you and respectfully suggest anger management exercises.

Until very recently I was very much a “BUT NOT ALL______” defender. Not all cops, not all white people, and all lives matter. I thought I was feeling the right thing. My intentions were certainly peaceful. I truly said these things with good intentions and no malice. I’m willing to bet if you’re reading this because you know me (thank you), then I know you and, if you still say these phrases, there’s no doubt in my mind your statements are more pleading than combative.   If more than my usual 3 people read this, think about how you are saying these words. Think about why. Are you hoping for peace? Are you reaffirming that you aren’t “one of them”? Are you defensive because your brother, lover, sister, cousin, best friend is an officer? Are you a responsible gun owner and don’t want to relinquish your collection? What threat to you specifically causes NOT ALL_______ to pass your lips?

Once you figure out your motivation, how does it contribute to either the problem or the solution?

If you’re “tired of all this”, why? Are you tired of the violence and death or of defending yourself when you’re not the one accused?

I’m at the point where I want to delete this. This is why I haven’t posted anything in the past year and a half. I type out these thoughts and decide that my opinion doesn’t really matter. If you haven’t agreed with me so far then you aren’t going to wonder how secular laws involving people you don’t know will disrupt your religious beliefs and practices. You won’t think about how maybe our “right to bear and keep arms” shouldn’t include the right a weapon that enables a person to inflict lethal damage to 26 children in less than 5 minutes. You won’t consider that maybe there are officers who were attracted to their profession because they like the power and authority. You won’t think we have a race problem. You will continue to worry just about yourself.

I’m angry. I’m tired of hearing defenses that basically say a person’s right to live isn’t as important as what another gets to do.

You have every right to your opinion. You have every right to voice your opinion. All I really want is for us to really think about what’s happening in this country and stop trying to keep it at a distance. Insisting you aren’t the problem doesn’t do anything but satisfy your own ego.

And if you still want to say “not all_____” don’t forget to add “but one is too many.”

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Political Versus Personal

I’m a walking contradiction; a hypocrite to my own values. My personal beliefs are incredibly conservative: abortion is wrong, immigrants who come here through unapproved channels should go back and follow the current rules and I think there are more than a few recipients of public aid who abuse the system.

All that being said, politically I support the candidate who is pro-choice, actively protects “illegal” immigrants and pledges to increase funding for social services.

Why?

That answer is simple for me.  My personal beliefs shouldn’t limit the rights of the person next to me. The word personal is defined by Dictionary.com as:

1. of, pertaining to, or coming as from a particular person; individual; private: a personal opinion.
2. relating to, directed to, or intended for a particular person: a personal favor; one’s personal life; a letter marked “Personal.”
3. intended for use by one person: a personal car.
 
My beliefs are mine.  They do not need to be yours. I don’t believe in abortion; I won’t have one. If you feel you need one, then you should be free to do so. (Disclaimer: I have not been in the situation where I have had to consider one, so I actually only think I know what I’d do.) I don’t understand why the pro-choice versus pro-life is a debate. It’s a personal choice. Our actions are our own, so why do others’ political and religious beliefs need to dictate them?
 

The immigrants I’ve met who came or stayed here using “unapproved” methods– sneaking in, staying after a visa expired– are not here to take advantage of our socials services programs or “take our jobs”.  They would rather live here with the fear of deportation and send whatever money they can back to the family left behind than be subjected to the abject poverty or under the corrupted government of their countries of origin. As a decent human being, I want these people to be safe and have an opportunity for a better life. I worked for an employment agency for over a decade. My geographical reach for employing people was approximately a 50-mile radius. This is what I’ve experienced: Immigrants aren’t “taking job from Americans”.  They are the majority of those applying for low level jobs. They accept them with sheer joy and (most of them) show up every single day. I’ve had a few non-immigrant applicants for these jobs.  Everyone single one of them demanded far above the posted salary without a shred of applicable experience and most would not accept the position with the pay range offered. Some would walk out. Some would begrudgingly accept the job, mutter a sarcastic thanks and then disappear several weeks later. (So raise the salary you say?  I would have loved to– the more money my placements made, the better for me and my employer. Agencies rarely get to dictate the pay. That is a problem that must be fixed within companies. That’s also a much larger discussion for another post.) Every so often I’d get an application from a laid off worker or someone who has experienced another life-changing event who needed something to get back on his or her feet. They would accept whatever I had to offer and commit to the length of the assignment. The long and short of it is, I didn’t see immigrants taking jobs from more qualified non-immigrant applicants.  I saw them take the ones no one else wanted.   Is there a problem in other geographical areas where immigrant workers get jobs because they would work for less money?  Most likely. I cannot speak from direct experience on this, so I will not. As I said, that’s a topic for another post– one that will mention the jobs being sent overseas. (Though, let me say I’d love to see harsher penalties for people who sell forged social security cards, employment authorization cards and permanent resident cards. Most of them are so obviously fake I’ve told the holder to return to the supplier and demand a refund.)

Social services were created because there are people in our society who need help and we’ve moved away from providing help to them on our own. Instead of cutting funding because of the percentage of recipients who abuse it, add to the funding for new case workers who can help properly allocate aid to those in need. We rally and make financial contributions of truly staggering amounts of money for political campaigns and natural disasters, but we can’t deal with losing the few dollars from our paychecks to provide our literal neighbors with heat, food and medical care? 
 
My problem: where is the line between keeping my personal beliefs truly for my own life and saying others should do the same? Is it by saying “this is my opinion” and not force others to believe the same?
 
Freedom of speech means we will not be prosecuted for stating our opinions.  But why force that opinion as law by which others should live? Am I forcing my opinion on anyone when I say “live your life as you see fit and I will live mine as I do”?   How we vote affect other people’s lives; how we feel should affect our own. I hear politicians screaming from the roof tops about morals and family values. Treating others with dignity and respect is moral. Providing us with information so we can make educated decisions for ourselves is moral. Forcing someone to live by another’s will is not moral.
 
So where is the resolution to this?  I know we need some laws that limit our freedoms– taxes being mandatory for running our municipal services, making companies accountable for unfair hiring practices (yes, a company is an entity, but it is run by people), disallowing yelling fire in a crowded theater….  Do we need a few more decades of evolution before we treat each other fairly enough that personal choice of anything isn’t controversial?
 

Before you comment, please, really think about what you are about to say. Your argument against anything in this post may very well prove my point. Giving me “official statistics” of issues I’ve mentioned will not help. Research both conservative and liberal organizations from where the number comes. They range drastically on the bias of what is trying to be proved.

I am struggling to keep religion and spirituality out of this and stick to the basic idea of just being respectful of others.  I know some of you will want to argue a religiously based counter-opinion.  My answer to that is the same: live your life by the laws of your religion and I’ll live by the laws of mine. Let me remind you of statements from four major religions:

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you”

“What is hateful to yourself do not do to your fellow-man.”

“Believers, guard your own souls. The person who has gone astray cannot hurt you if you are rightly guided.”

“An’ it harm none, Do what ye will.”

I started this post by saying I’m a hypocrite of my own values. Through writing and editing, I see I am true to my most important value: live and let live.

Blessed be.