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Tue May 27, 2014, 07:18 PM

-ism

“Intolerance betrays a want of faith in one’s cause.” -- Gandhi


Discussions about “-ism” have frequently been acrimonious on this forum. Issues that involve racism and sexism tend to be the most divisive and emotional here. In a very real sense, this is expected: American society has never come to grips with the cultural pathologies that infect most communities across the nation.

No infant is born hateful. It is learned behavior. If you watch itty-bitty children interacting with others, you find that they are aware of differences among people, including a person being male or female, and with different shades of skin color. I remember my older daughter, at age three, rubbing my brother-in-law’s arm, and saying, “Oh, Uncle Keith, you’re black. That’s so pretty!”

At our extended family events/ reunions, she saw people who were black, brown, red, yellow, and white. As a young adult, although she is aware that some people have hang-ups about what is incorrectly referred to as “race,” she knows that the racists own the problem. Obviously, the systematic racism also causes problems for too many people who do not own the problem. For racism in the United States is real, and contaminates the fabric of our society with ignorance, fear, and hatred. An obvious example of this is found in the hatred for President Obama; this is not to say that everyone who disagrees with his actions is racist, of course, but racists -- especially white racists -- continue to refuse to accept that he was twice elected to the highest office in the land.

The other major “-ism” -- sexism -- has more entrenched roots in our society. It is a sibling to racism, so entangled that it can be difficult to separate the two completely. And while like with racism, there have been advances in our cultural attitudes, we are still a long way from the Promised Land. While my daughter’s generation is intellectually and ethically advanced compared to my own, when it comes to issues involving marriage equality and the like, some of the ignorance, fear, and hatred between the sexes remains.

Hence, it seems worthwhile to consider how positive changes are accomplished …..more so, for goodness sakes, than the arguing, accusing, and finger-pointing that too often takes place on this forum. For we must do more than simply define the problem. We have to identify how change is made, and then use this information to decide upon the most meaningful approach that we can take -- as individuals and groups.

Martin Luther King, Jr., noted that it is a myth that it takes “time” to make meaningful change. “Time is neutral,” King said in the last Sunday sermon he was to deliver. “It can be used either constructively or destructively. ….Somewhere we must come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through tireless efforts and the persistent work of individuals …. Without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the primitive forces of social stagnation …”

Thus, when I have the opportunity to talk with my daughter and her friends, I am aware that the changes I see reflected in their view of the world, is largely the result of the environment that they were raised in. Obviously, this starts with the family unit in which they were raised. Yet it also includes the schools they attend, and the communities they inhabit. More, it includes all of the negative aspects of the child’s upbringing, as well.

The second avenue to change is the individual. People can and do change -- often, for the better. In fact, those people who do not change over the years they spend on earth, tend to stand out more than those who do evolve in their thinking. We all know people who channel the social stagnation King spoke of.

It seems to me that one of the greatest stumbling blocks that prevents meaningful discussions on this forum is a failure to recognize -- and respect -- that people change. It would seem unlikely that a person who was raised in a household where females are not valued, is going to be at the same location on the path, as one who was raised respecting both male and females.

We need to be patient with individuals, and equally impatient with “the system.” You can’t curb anger with more anger, or hostility with more hostility, when dealing with individuals. You can’t force a person to see things differently by insulting them. Rather, people are more likely to be open to viewing things differently, when you approach them civilly, and use logic, facts, and rational thinking. Likewise, by creating tension in a larger social setting, one can open minds to different ways of thinking.

The potential good that can come from helping a person to think differently -- to understand and appreciate that there are other, better ways to relate to both male and female human beings, and to put the old, toxic “-isms” in the past -- should not be underestimated. For a person must think differently, before they will act differently. And our culture needs to be transformed, in thoughts and actions, in order that we can confront the other serious issues that confront humanity today.

Peace,
H2O Man

36 replies, 1828 views

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Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 36 replies Author Time Post
Reply -ism (Original post)
H2O Man May 2014 OP
Mnemosyne May 2014 #1
H2O Man May 2014 #3
Mnemosyne May 2014 #36
Skidmore May 2014 #2
H2O Man May 2014 #9
brer cat May 2014 #4
H2O Man May 2014 #12
Raine1967 May 2014 #5
H2O Man May 2014 #17
malaise May 2014 #6
H2O Man May 2014 #18
panader0 May 2014 #7
H2O Man May 2014 #19
ismnotwasm May 2014 #8
H2O Man May 2014 #20
WillyT May 2014 #10
H2O Man May 2014 #21
HuskiesHowls May 2014 #11
H2O Man May 2014 #22
spanone May 2014 #13
H2O Man May 2014 #24
spanone May 2014 #27
cali May 2014 #14
H2O Man May 2014 #25
Uncle Joe May 2014 #15
H2O Man May 2014 #26
AverageJoe90 May 2014 #16
H2O Man May 2014 #29
polly7 May 2014 #23
H2O Man May 2014 #30
Sissyk May 2014 #28
H2O Man May 2014 #31
Sissyk May 2014 #32
H2O Man May 2014 #33
Autumn May 2014 #34
H2O Man May 2014 #35

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue May 27, 2014, 07:22 PM

1. Hear, hear. nt

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Response to Mnemosyne (Reply #1)

Tue May 27, 2014, 07:39 PM

3. Thank you!

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #3)

Thu May 29, 2014, 08:31 PM

36. Anytime. I value your wisdom. nt

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue May 27, 2014, 07:29 PM

2. Well said.

Thank you, my friend.

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Response to Skidmore (Reply #2)

Tue May 27, 2014, 09:01 PM

9. Thanks!

Strange days on DU recently.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue May 27, 2014, 07:40 PM

4. Wise words, H2O Man.

I would also add that we need to spend as much time listening (reading) a point of view as we spend responding. Sometimes people state things differently, but it doesn't mean they disagree with the general principle.

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Response to brer cat (Reply #4)

Tue May 27, 2014, 11:02 PM

12. I agree.

As simple as this may sound: I already know what my opinion is. So I benefit more from reading and listening to others' opinions. That doesn't mean my beliefs or values will change. Nor does it mean I (or they) are either "right" or "wrong." On many issues, such value judgments don't even come into play. It's just our opinions.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue May 27, 2014, 07:41 PM

5. Thank you for your words. nt

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Response to Raine1967 (Reply #5)

Wed May 28, 2014, 10:16 AM

17. Thank you....

for having the patience to read those words!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue May 27, 2014, 07:54 PM

6. A beautiful post

Thanks Waterman! K & R!

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Response to malaise (Reply #6)

Wed May 28, 2014, 10:58 AM

18. Thank you!

In my opinion, some of the toxicity on DU:GD is causing too many of our community's thoughtful and intelligent members to engage in meaningless arguments. We need to keep our eyes on the prize.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue May 27, 2014, 08:04 PM

7. K and R


" For a person must think differently, before they will act differently. And our culture needs to be transformed, in thoughts and actions, in order that we can confront the other serious issues that confront humanity today. "

Good stuff H2O Man

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Response to panader0 (Reply #7)

Wed May 28, 2014, 11:00 AM

19. If there is

one message that I wanted to communicate, it was in those two sentences.

Thank you!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue May 27, 2014, 08:16 PM

8. Exactly

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Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #8)

Wed May 28, 2014, 11:00 AM

20. Thanks!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue May 27, 2014, 09:54 PM

10. Most Excellent Post !!! - K & R !!!

 

Thank you !!!






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Response to WillyT (Reply #10)

Wed May 28, 2014, 12:49 PM

21. Thanks, Willie T!

And thank you for all that you contribute to this forum. Your posts are an island of sanity in the sea of madness known as DU:GD.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue May 27, 2014, 09:59 PM

11. Good writing, and a good message

Unfortunately, the people who most need to read (and think about) this probably will never get beyond the header.

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Response to HuskiesHowls (Reply #11)

Wed May 28, 2014, 12:50 PM

22. Thanks.

I agree with your point that many of the folks who should read this --and not because I wrote it -- will not read it -- because I wrote it.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue May 27, 2014, 11:05 PM

13. recommendedism

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Response to spanone (Reply #13)

Wed May 28, 2014, 12:51 PM

24. Thanks, Friend!

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #24)

Wed May 28, 2014, 01:20 PM

27. you, sir, are more than welcome.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue May 27, 2014, 11:06 PM

14. This is such a good op. I hope everyone here reads it. Thanks for writing it.

 

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Response to cali (Reply #14)

Wed May 28, 2014, 12:56 PM

25. Thank you, Cali!

I wish that more people would read it. As I noted above, many won't bother, simply because I wrote/posted it. And small, closed minds -- like small, closed rooms -- tend to be stuffy.

I try not to be a cranky old fool who rants about "the good old days." There was never a time when the entire DU community agreed on much, besides a strong dislike of Bush-Cheney. But people used to take the time to read the contributions of others, including those people they weren't friends with. And there were healthy debates of a wide range of topics.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue May 27, 2014, 11:07 PM

15. Kicked and recommended.

Thanks for the thread, H2O Man.

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Response to Uncle Joe (Reply #15)

Wed May 28, 2014, 12:58 PM

26. Thanks!

I attempt to serve up some "food for thought" on the DU:GD table.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed May 28, 2014, 01:21 AM

16. I honestly think that this was a well-written and thoughtful post, H2O Man. =)

 

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Response to AverageJoe90 (Reply #16)

Wed May 28, 2014, 02:02 PM

29. Thanks!

I'd like to think that I have learned a few important lessons in life, ones worth sharing here.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed May 28, 2014, 12:50 PM

23. Wonderful post, H20 Man. nt.

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Response to polly7 (Reply #23)

Wed May 28, 2014, 02:02 PM

30. Thank you!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed May 28, 2014, 01:33 PM

28. This is an excellent post, H20 Man!

I wish every member here would read; and then K&R this post.

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Response to Sissyk (Reply #28)

Wed May 28, 2014, 02:04 PM

31. Thanks!

I'd be happy if even a few of the people here who think I'm a jerk would read it and respond to those parts of the OP they disagree with.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #31)

Wed May 28, 2014, 03:20 PM

32. I don't know how anyone here can think you are a jerk.

I don't always agree with you but you always make me think; and that's why I come here.

Threads and post that are combative or "No, you are" "No, I'm not. You are" are pretty worthless and jerkish behavior on a message board, IMO. I have not always stayed out of them, but I am trying to use the DU experience to the betterment of me as a person.

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Response to Sissyk (Reply #32)

Wed May 28, 2014, 03:35 PM

33. Oh, I appreciate that!

Since joining DU in 2003, there have been a few times where I said some stupid, insensitive things to others. And I have made an honest effort to say I'm sorry, publicly, and to try not to repeat that mistake.

And there are others here who simply do not like me as a person. I have no problem with that. It doesn't prevent me from being able to discuss or debate issues here, without dipping into the gutter of personal attacks.

I agree with you about the "you are" versus "no, you are" nonsense that takes up too much room here. I, too, try to avoid those types of discussion threads.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed May 28, 2014, 03:41 PM

34. Wonderful words H2O Man.

This OP takes me back to my childhood. Christmas morning. Unwrapping a present and finding just what I had wanted and sometimes just what I needed. Thank you

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Response to Autumn (Reply #34)

Wed May 28, 2014, 04:45 PM

35. Thanks!

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