I can’t afford the price of selfishness. Seeing more of the world, both in person and through the eyes of new-found internet friends, educates me and makes sitting in my comfortable life a little less easy.
Sometimes it adds discontentedness to the equation, for example when point A is children in my own country going without food. I’m willing to give up some of my food to share. It won’t hurt me or my daily life. Sometimes It’s harder, maybe I have an objection to the changes that might make someone’s life easier. Maybe I’m a rancher and I wanted to put my herd on public land, but wild horse advocates won an injunction, so the wild horses are still there. We can’t over-graze or there’s nothing next year, but that’s going to eat into my paycheck!
Maybe it doesn’t affect my pantry or my bank account, but my sensibilities. Someone who wrote something I don’t like or lives in a way I find objectionable. It really rankles that person can just wear their religious necklace walking down the street. Or that headdress. Wait. Some of my best friends do the same things, only they have symbols I’m more familiar with. Should we ask them to stop so we can have uniformity? Should we allow everyone to freely express their religion in jewelry? And about that headdress. If your friend wears a wig and her husband a kippah so they doesn’t expose her hair or his head. Is that so different from a hijab, chador, niqab or a man’s turban? It does not affect their lives differently to have them outlawed.
Maybe there’s a moral objection to a family unit. Maybe it makes a person uncomfortable. On NBC I recently saw a man saying he was OK with other people’s sexuality, but didn’t think public displays of affection were ok. He said “They rub it in our faces.” Maybe he hasn’t watched a typical television drama lately, where plenty of morally objectionable displays of affection between unmarried people are highlighted for thirty minute stretches at a time. Don’t watch them? But I went to the mall and this young couple was kissing next to the Disney store. They didn’t have rings! But no matter their gender, no matter the race, morality, or age of the onlookers, those folks were grabbing and slobbering in public.
Now let’s think about that place we relax or our workplaces. Does it offend me to see someone who doesn’t look or think like me there? Does it bother me that someone who’s a different gender enjoys my favorite game or movie? Does it matter why they like it or that they need to like it for The Right Reasons. What if we’re watching the same movie and our life experience gives us a different opinion? What if that person or I get offended? What if we share that we were offended and the other person doesn’t agree that my experience gives me the right to be offended? Well. We can decide not to talk about it and hope it never comes up again. Or I can share my experience and hope that the other person share’s their experience so we can understand that we both want to feel comfortable.
Imagine that someone who acts just like you is in fact just like you, no matter their race, no mater their gender orientation or sexual orientation. No matter their religion. Imagine they have feelings and history, experience and family.
Maybe you feel like they’re invading your private area of the internet (or fandom) and that really feels like they walked into your house and started complaining it was too messy or that the posters on the walls are offensive. Maybe. But maybe they always were in that area of the net and never spoke up before, or maybe an advertiser invited them in and they found the special part of the net that you love wanting in their view or to their needs and they’re looking to tell the advertiser to change or lose their money. Maybe they’re telling other people in their own community that they went to that area of the internet felt weird or offensive and listing the reasons why. That’s not an attack on you personally. That’s sharing experience.
I’m asking you to listen to other people’s experiences and to share your own experience without casting blame. By sharing experience we’re educating others to help them see a point of view they may never have considered before. Make the world, the workplace and the internet a more interactive and inclusive place by being open to new experience and by telling your own story without faulting any particular individual.
It’s rarely one person’s fault that a game or place feels offensive and there’s no reason to believe someone who says they felt that way is pointing a finger at you personally. That jewelry with the religious sign? It’s not there to annoy you. The hijab? It’s not there to make you feel unsafe. The person who loves FPS’s but can’t stand seeing women demeaned isn’t stopping you from enjoying your game. The couple celebrating their wedding anniversary isn’t there to make you feel uncomfortable, and the people who got permission to keep the wild horses on the range aren’t after your bank account.
I am too interested in the world and celebrating differences between people to find anything but hypocrisy morally objectionable. The more we experience and educate ourselves in the life of others, the more we can see that our small comforts are selfishly narrow when they infringe on another’s more fundamental needs. Attacking someone for having the same needs and the same rights that I freely express in public is purely hypocritical.