I got heartaches in my pocket,
I got echoes in my head
And all that I keep hearing,
Are the cruel, cruel things that you said
--Thousand Miles from Nowhere,
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three;
but the greatest of these is charity
--1 Corinthian 13
Sunday thoughts: Disrespect and unkindness.
Several military men have recently expressed to me their feeling of disconnect from the society they pledged to protect, one which theoretically claims to respect and appreciate them, but which in actuality routinely dishes disrespect.
The reality of having citizen soldiers is that they will one day return to society and must re-integrate. For this to be successful, society must adopt a level of conscientiousness beyond magnetized yellow ribbons; the people in these cases failed. If the perpetrators of the harshness had considered for even a moment the possible damaging repercussions of their cruelty, I wonder if they would have bravely persisted in their disrespect.
Of course, this is approaching the matter from a self-interested perspective; beyond that would be to operate from a principle of kindness and charity, something that adherents to god-fearing dogmas should not find hard to access. A few examples of cruelty follow. Let us meditate on that this Sunday.
The most recent example occurred while driving down the main drag in town with Ranger, while an aggressive young female driver in a large SUV proceeded to tailgate him. As he is wont to do, he started his car's flasher; this did not dissuade her. He then slowed down to prompt her to pass, which she did not do. He then slowed to zero, at which point she sped around, almost clipping his car's front end, with some aggressive gesture.
His response was automatic and unemotional, through clenched teeth: "I'd Jap-slap that bitch in a minute." Jim has "disabled veterans" tags, but is unlikely she noted them, or that she would have dispensed a modicum of respect on that basis, anyway. His fully sincere response made me think of the recent experiences of two other RAW readers.
Friend and fellow blogger Alex Limkin wrote a fine post about his recent experience walking his PTSD dog, Abigail, near a golf course in Albuquerque and the harshness he was dealt by one of the course denizens. Alex is a Ranger, too, and has served in Iraq; the old man who dealt Alex such unkindness was perhaps himself a war veteran. But he didn't take the time to consider their fraternity.
Instead, he threatened Alex, who was only trying to find water for his dog after a long walk. I'll let Alex speak for himself:
I will not lie. My immediate sense of what I was going to do was not pretty. I meant to twist one of his golf clubs around his neck—not so as to hurt him in any way, but just so that he would be faced with the inconvenience of playing the rest of his round with a golf club wrapped around his neck. Plus, he would be denied the use of that club. While twisting it like a pretzel around his neck, I meant to repeat, “There is no need for such language, sir.” (from, "For Abigail").
Alex decided that his only safe move was to "move on." But physical aggression is the first programmed response to incoming (= hostility), and people would do well to honor that, and approach with their needs and wishes in a less threatening way. Compassion would be the next evolutionary step up, but what is recommended here is a bare minimum.
Lastly, reader Deryle shared a similar interchange, again (as in Jim's case), with an aggressive young woman. I'll let Deryle speak for himself, too:
Last nite I had a beer, as in one, with an old bro who was passing through town. We're standing by his car saying good bye when 4-5 girls walked by singing and making a joyful noise.
"Whoo-hooo, Today's my birthday,"one of them yelled at us, to which I say, "Well, which birthday is it darlin'?" Without even looking our way, birthday girl girls yells: "I'm 23 and don't call me darlin, BITCH." They burst out laughing and walk on.
I look at friend, not saying a word. They're out of sight now.
"Well, goddam, that was uncalled for. I think I'll remind them to be respectful." He looks at me as if I'm crazy--which I am at this moment. I head down alley at lope, and round building and walk out on sidewalk just as they arrive.
Chubby little thing looks up -- all are startled shitless, as one might imagine:
"Hey birthday girl. I'm an old man and I don't like the way the word 'bitch' is used these days and I damn sure don't appreciate being called names. You don't even know me. Be respectful.
One of them jumps in front of birthday girl, whose lip by now, is quivering. A couple of the others look as if they've seen the devil. "Are you going to hurt her?"she plaintively asks.
I've spent my entire adult life working with young people, whom I love. Girls, drunk, being lippy.
"No, I 'm just saying be respectful" is all I can mutter, looking at those children. Ashamed of my self--sorta. I turn and walk away.
As I m headed back, I hear one of them yell, "Well, fuck you bitch" and jump in their car. I had to make myself stop thinking, you're about to end up in trouble mister. Walk on."
This post is long enough; I have some further thoughts on the matter. I note the veterans' refrain of "moving on".
We have some work to do if we wish to be a civil society.