Censorship, prudence, peace-making, black-listing

nuanceIT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO BE VALUE-FREE WHEN WRITING

I’m having a very hard time blogging, commenting, and being a responsible citizen on Facebook right now.

Responsible, because I want to stand by my words online, even if you read them in a month when the craziness is muted. Not gone – the consequences of this election will haunt this nation for years.

Born in California, reared in Mexico City, and living permanently in the States since I went to Seattle U. to finish a college career interrupted by non-student communists shutting down the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in 1968-69, I have NEVER seen an election like this one.

Being an INFJ (sliding to an INTP depending on my mood when answering questions – it’s impossible to tell with older people who have adapted the world to themselves with practice), supposedly makes me a peacemaker who, according to one online site,

‘their real passion is to get to the heart of the issue so that people need not be rescued at all.’

and

‘Egalitarianism and karma are very attractive ideas to INFJs, and they tend to believe that nothing would help the world so much as using love and compassion to soften the hearts of tyrants.’

The problem is I’m censoring myself

I’ve always tried to express my own opinions, and not jump on bandwagons too quickly. I spend time writing comments, re-read before posting, and tone down things which might be taken as fighting words.

The touchstone: not saying anything online I wouldn’t be willing to say in person, with that willingness being tempered by having to achieve something positive, or what is the purpose of talking.

I get snippy occasionally – everyone does – but tend more to pour oil on water than light it up for flames.

But I can’t tell you how many times lately I’m deleting entire comments, leaving challenging statements unchallenged, NOT saying something I really think should be said.

And not just about politics, but on Goodreads, in private FB groups, and even on that bastion of even-handedness and civility, ThePassiveVoice.

And it’s causing me some real discomfort.

Firebrands exhaust me

I’m not the best person for defending or advocating for anything – my energy is too limited.

I have the comments. I WRITE the comments.

And then I delete them, because the climate seems fraught. Everyone’s temper is short. People who claim to be Christian use language Christ would blanch at to impugn someone else’s ancestry.

Racism, sexism, ableism – all are alive and kicking. And punching. And screaming.

I blocked someone on my Facebook page I’ve homeschooled with, and known for twenty years (not close lately, but still).

We used to paper over differences, not mention differences in beliefs where it was not important, strive to find the common ground. Our homeschool group had several Jewish families, at least one Muslim one, ours (the Catholics), and a large collection of mainline and evangelical Protestants – and we coexisted and went on field trips together.

Nuance, thesauri, satire

It’s easier to stay out of the fray.

Indie publishing and traditional publishing long ago developed into separate camps with entirely different belief systems. I read, formed my own opinions, chose the indie camp and don’t regret it.

But, as a writer, I know perfectly well how to slant word choices to make a subtle point. Except that the subtlety seems gone, and everything said seems to lead to an assault on the castle walls.

I hope to hell it’s temporary

And that I won’t be ashamed of anything of said during the proceedings.

But I’m shaken. And unhappy. I’ve always thought it was a great thing to be an American, and that, regardless of problems, this is where I want to live. I’m looking forward to when diversity is even greater in our country, and education serves ALL our kids well, so they have futures.

And now we’re going down a possible black hole. And even the possibility of the black hole has done huge damage with its gravitational force.

Surely we can do better than this.

What to do? What to do?

I’ll gird my loins, go back into the fray, keep attempting to use reason while understanding there is always injustice.

And hope the rest of us are shaken enough to look seriously at ourselves and make sure we’re not making things worse. Platitudes, all, but I intend to try.

This can’t be, as someone said, ‘the end of the American experiment.’

Have you had a similar experience?

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18 thoughts on “Censorship, prudence, peace-making, black-listing

  1. Alice Audrey

    You are not alone, though you are a lot nicer than I am. I am also occasionally an INFJ. I am also horrified by this election. I had no idea so many people would take him seriously as a candidate. When I found out he won, I actually went into mourning. This is every bit as bad as 911.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Not really nice; just well restrained. I take my beliefs seriously, and feel I will have to defend my words and actions when I go Home – and would rather fix things here while I can.

      This election has strained that, as well as everything else, but I keep pointing out the results are as real as a basketball game which declares one team a winner based on a last minute score that takes the game from 99/100 to 101/100. But someone gets to take home the prize anyway.

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  2. Lily White LeFevre

    Late to the party on this post, but my experience with this emotional exhaustion didn’t happen till after election. And then I saw such an outpouring of spite and anger and fear and absolutely NON-EMPATHETIC reactions that I was (and still am) genuinely shaken by it. It is especially abhorrent to an Ni-dominant (INTJ to your INFJ) to see people acting as if incapable of seeing a perspective other than their own, when one of the cornerstones of having Ni first in your stack is being so able to see other perspectives that holding onto your own can be the real challenge. This lack of perspective was an unexpected turn of events, so more powerful for catching me off guard. Hugs. This too shall pass.

    And I for one commend you on not posting those comments. I made the conscious choice to put friendships ahead of politics and not share my reactions, as inevitably they would be hurtful to someone I care about.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I want to be empathetic. I want people to work together for peace – there is enough natural injustice to overcome in the world even if we all did work together.

      But it’s hard to be empathetic with some of the vile stuff that comes out of people’s minds.

      I shared my reactions with like-minded friends on FB – and kept them as mild as possible. I like to be able to stand by my own words in public, if necessary. Rather than get into things (after a couple of back-and-forths with him getting the FB equivalent of more red in the face), I blocked a person I have known for twenty years.

      I’m praying for everyone, but especially some of the haters. And of course more for those who will be affected by them and who have already been affected.

      I’m determined to do what I can if I’m ever in a place where I need to speak up or accompany someone.

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  3. Janna G. Noelle

    Like you, I try not to say anything online that I wouldn’t say in person. That said, I do like to use my written words to state my position on certain issues and to stand up against injustice, for as an ISTJ, I usually express myself far better in text than verbally.

    All that said, I don’t spend too much time on social media in general because going back and forth on an issue with someone, particularly if they are of the hyperbolic firebrand variety, can quickly eat up the better part of your day, and also suck down a lot of your emotional energy. You might even get a free side of racist, misogynist harassment as part of the deal because, as you say, this is what we’ve devolved into nowadays (by that, I mean the blatant expression of these isms online; I believe people have always been terrible, but now there’s a lot less of an obligation for them to hide the fact).

    Most of my opinions end up on my blog where admittedly not that many people see them. It does, however, make me feel better to have my say and to have a position prepared that I can later refer people to, if necessary.

    Keep girding those loins and be careful out there.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Having your say is important.

      Avoiding the trolls is also important – because they cannot be converted, and certainly not by talking back to them online. It just takes too much energy to even try.

      The expression of the isms has gotten completely horrible – a major party candidate for the highest office in the land says it’s okay, so it must be.

      It will be interesting to see the trials for libel and slander afterward. A lot of these people are stupidly putting things in writing or on tape – which they can’t then disavow (except the candidate, of course, who is now famous for saying he never said something which a tiny bit of research can prove that he did. The perils of not being a politician – politicians at least try to watch what they say. There are relatively few of these little bits of tape out there for other candidates. So many for the Republicans. Hmmm.

      Anyway, keep blogging – it may be important some day to have spoken up where you can. And even if it isn’t, it feels good to stop hiding – and I think I was afraid of offending people who would never, under any circumstances, read one of my books.

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  4. Widdershins

    Being a Canadian I wasn’t all that enthused about voicing my opinions – an international perspective in you like – but I feel like this is a whole lot like climate change. It’s happening whether we like it or not, whether we participate or not. The crazies have walled themselves in, (with denial, with rage, hatred, all the ‘ism’s they can think of) with walls that are getting tighter and higher. All we can do is tend our gardens (of peace, alternate technologies,etc) out here and care for the escapees, and wait out the inevitable collapse.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I don’t think collapse is inevitable – the world is too connected – but it needs a lot of praying for.

      We’re able to communicate, sort of (China and other totalitarian governments know this is bad, and restrict/constrict the internet), with all kinds of people on the planet.

      There’s a lot of information – and people working hard to cure diseases (at least the easy, obvious ones) and produce food.

      I’m an optimist – don’t know why.

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  5. J.M. Ney-Grimm

    The INTJ is the patient visionary with a clear view of how the future should look and will work with quiet and logical determination to make it happen.

    …the INTJ will be private and keep thought processes inside until they emerge with ‘the plan of action.’ This may the first opportunity for others to even realise that so much was going on ‘inside.’

    Innovative and analytical, INTJs have a unique talent for analysing complex problems and issues and determining how they can be improved, whether it be a small innocuous product or the whole organisation.
    http://www.preludecharacteranalysis.com/types/intj/characteristics

    They tend to be stable, reliable, and dedicated. Harmony in relationships and home life tends to be extremely important to them. – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/INTJ

    I figure that I’m not going to convince anyone of anything by my comments on Facebook or TPV or anywhere else online. Especially if the participants are all shouting or doing the equivalent of shouting. So I stay out of the ruckus. It’s a good thing that most people aren’t like me! 😉

    I will cast my vote, help my neighbor, love my friends and kin, and hope for the best.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      There isn’t anything else we can do, is there?

      But that’s what He told us to do, so it must be right.

      I wish I had the energy to do something more physical in the world, but that has been taken from my menu for now.

      I try not to make things worse, but I don’t understand how people can let themselves be shouted at – at church or at a rally. Must make it impossible to think.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Thunder before the cleansing rain. I hope all our minorities and majorities vote, so the results are the most inclusive possible. This may be the long-term gain. And that women who are afraid take advantage of the secrecy of the ballot box to vote without being intimidated.

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  6. Catana

    The American experiment has been crumbling for quite a long time. The current circus has probably brought it to consciousness in a way that might never have happened until it crashed, with everyone wondering what the hell just happened. I don’t think things will settle down after the election. You might say the cat has been let out of the bag, and it ain’t gonna permit itself to be shoved back in. Or maybe it’s Pandora’s box. Either way, I stay out of it. It just isn’t worth the energy it takes, not when so many people are moving to extremes. How many people have you met lately that are willing to look at themselves and say “Just maybe I could be wrong?” And Facebook, from everything I read about it, is the last place to find them. Get back to your novel and leave the screaming and yelling to those that can’t think their way out of a paper bag.

    By the way, I’m an INTP for what it’s worth, one who knows when to give up looking for answers, because sometimes there aren’t any.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      The nature of the American experiment is to keep trying.

      I’m stuck here – retirement medical benefits don’t work elsewhere (Medicare) – but I’ve never wanted to go back to live in Mexico, which is far worse, and having real troubles right now. Except all my family is there, my origin family, and they seem to be okay so far. They keep telling me NOT to move back.

      I hope the Trump ‘thing’ is a warning call, not to suppress opposition, but to listen to those who are willing to talk (not all of ‘them’); Trump is not the solution. He opens his mouth and tells them what they want to hear – but has no way to deliver it. And it varies with each group, anyway.

      Rich men don’t want to make other people rich – they want more for themselves. Some of them get a conscience (Andrew Carnegie and some other robber barons have given away a lot). Others have good advice (Gates Foundation). Even Warren Buffett has come out of this well.

      Most people would settled for 20% more. The margin of safety.

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  7. Nita Dozer Thatcher

    I am hoping things get back to rational after the elections. There is an ugliness about this election season that appears to me to be intentionally manipulated and that is highly disturbing. Maybe the ugliness has always been there and is just now rising to the surface because a certain political party has embraced it. I don’t know. I feel that it has now taken on a life of it’s own, it is out of hand, and is dangerous.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Oh, the ugliness has always been there, and the internet has made it far worse, because of connecting the various hate groups so well.

      But the flames were never fanned quite this much by the major parties – they supposedly knew they would have to work together.

      I think the rot set in when Obama had to deal with a Republican Congress which had as its only goal fighting everything he proposed. That’s racism, blatant. If we had had a white president, they would have cooperated much more. And it kills them to see him doing so well, and respected worldwide. And now, a WOMAN – heaven’s above! What is the world coming to?

      I say the answer is improving all the schools in the nation – and then waiting, because it’s going to take time.

      My dad was a Republican. He was also in the color guardof the Knights of Columbus (Catholic men’s organization) when JFK went to Mexico. He’d be turning over in his grave.

      I want my moderate Republicans back, the ones who would want all Americans to have health insurance.

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        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          I have a book called ‘You can negotiate anything,’ I believe by Herb Cohen.

          He talks about the Putin/Trump type – impossible to negotiate with them, because they HAVE to win. There is no win/win, no compromise, no cooperating.

          Must re-read that.

          You can’t compromise with certain people, because they see compromise as weakness, not a two-way street.

          I don’t know what works – huge shows of strength? But not compromise.

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