Heads up: This post has some strong laguage. I am venting, but with a point.
So this whole issue with Ellen and George W. Bush has sparked outrage, which is unsurprising since it is currently fashionable to get outraged over stupid shit. I haven’t normally weighed in on pop-culture nonsense, but this seems to bear an important lesson.
The lesson here is about the nature of kindness. Ellen has always encouraged people to be kind to one another, and she lives that out regularly. This time, she was having a good time with ol’ G.W. at a football game.
Naturally, the internet took exception.
Even after Ellen explained that you can be kind to those who disagree with you, idiots from across the internet felt the need to point out that she was white, rich, and privileged enough to behave in such a way.
What the f*ck?
May I inquire as to the required level of poverty for me not to be kind? To not “love your enemies,” as Christ teaches? To quit following the examples of other apparently “privileged” people like, I don’t know, Martin Luther King, Jr.?
This is what drives me nuts about my country right now. Whether democrat or republican, liberal or conservative. the message seems to be that to disagree is to do harm to others. If someone thinks differently than you, don’t bother trying to positively affect them. Cut them out! Separate yourself! Treat them “like the cancer they are,” as one post put it.
F*ck that. I’m sick of it. It’s tearing society apart, ruining the idea of debate, and will inevitably lead to more extremism.
People accuse Ellen of living in her own little world where you can love people who do shady shit.
We all do shady shit. “Shady Shit” is a part of being human. Most are born with damn near equal parts of light, goodness, and Shady Shit. Life is about learning to minimize the latter and embrace the former, but that Shady Shit is aaalways there.
G.W., for example, thrust us into an unnecessary and costly war that is still affecting us today. I get that. Shady Shit. He’s also a funny, relatively kind guy. Those two parts of him exist. Ellen behaving as if that’s the case by being kind to the guy is simply an acknowledgment of reality.
We keep attacking people because we find out they were a part of some Shady Shit, as if there is an alternative! Everyone, EVERYONE, has done, said, or thought some Shady Shit.
Remarkably, the people our virtue signaling culture hold up as examples of right doing and thinking espouse the same thoughts and opinions as the virtue signalers themselves, and THAT, dear reader, is some Shady Shit.
Now. I agree that we need boundaries. We need to fight racism, homophobia, anti-LGBTQ attitudes, sexism, all that Shady Shit that has become policy in the U.S.
BUT. Imagine this:
You know someone who has differing opinions on these matters. Let’s say they are racist. You decide to shun them and cut them from your life with all the appropriate name-calling; doing exactly as proposed by these keyboard warriors and activists.
Racist Feller goes away. Where do you think he’s going to go? He will probably go find other people who AGREE with him so he feels less alone, less judged.
Now he meets more like-minded folks. They gather regularly and share life together. Their racist beliefs feed off this interaction and fester and grow into a familiar level of group evil that will find its way into voting booths across the nation.
Simultaneously, you go find your own little tribe of people that think just like you. Same thing happens. Now two extreme communities exist, ready to plunge this country off a cliff.
Sounds stupid, yes?
But what if you chose to be kind? What if you and racist man got lunch or coffee? What if you, by demonstration of your own sincerely held beliefs, took the opportunity to positively affect someone who never considered that there was another way? What if you set boundaries firmly but kindly, not allowing racist expressions in your midst but also not exiling the guy?
All of a sudden, you become a tempering presence. This guy has you to think about now when he considers his beliefs, actions, and vote. That’s a much more hopeful scenario.
As you can see, I don’t equate kindness with passivity. You don’t have to take abuse or mistreatment. What I do avocate for is kindness, accepting that if I want to be loved in spite of my Shady Shit, I had better love someone and all of their Shady Shit, too. Only with this level of self and mutual acceptance can our nation start to heal.
I get it. Many attitudes and beliefs are harmful. But if you think you can bully or “fight” those beliefs into submission, you’re drunk. America isn’t undone by violence, we actually like to pretend we thrive on it. Kindness and love are what throw us for a loop, which is f*cking sad.
So maybe we should stop portraying kindness as a weakness or privilege as opposed to the powerful, transformative choice it can be. Maybe we should stop denying that every human being has a healthy dose of Shady Shit tucked away somewhere. Maybe we should accept our Shady Shit while acknowledging that of others, and move on from that Shady Shit together.
And leave Ellen alone.
Peace be with you!