Gratitude Sunday: The Consequences Of Free Speech

Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.

Sunday Haiku
Fog descends upon
the valley, coastal feeling
of a humid day.

Sunday Musings
Last week I opened with a short paragraph about the tragedy in Portland, Oregon. I got a few details wrong. It happened on Friday, not Thursday, and I realized after posting that since the November election there have been so many hourly disruptions in the political world and in my world, my head is spinning and I can’t keep track from day to day what new news is happening. From the hate speech coming straight from the mouth of the person in the highest office in the United States, to individual crimes in nearly every city, not just in America, but in the world, it’s just too much.

In Portland three men were injured; two died for the sake of the safety of two women. It doesn’t matter what religion or color or gender the women were, there was no excuse for a stranger to bully them. The three men who stepped in to protect them did the right thing, morally and ethically; sadly, two of them gave their lives and another will carry the scars for the rest of his. They demonstrated honor, respect, and integrity.

The perpetrator (I won’t give him a name because I don’t want to glorify his actions; if you must you can look it up for yourself) is a murderer, plain and simple, contorting the definition of “free speech” as his defense. I believe in free speech and you can hate all you want, but the hate part you have to keep to yourself, and here’s the really important thing: you must not act on evil, ugly, or hateful thoughts, as those actions are NEVER to your advantage. Every one of us has a dark side in us; most of us keep ourselves in check and don’t act on the ugly thoughts we have.

Free speech has a bedside manner element to it, not just for doctors, but for everyone who talks, which means all of us. Yes, you can say whatever you want, but your words have meaning, and words matter. It’s not always easy, but one can pick and choose words for the sake of civil discourse. We are also allowed to have differences of opinions, and we should avoid assuming our opinion is the only right way to think. This is true of any interaction, even with people you love. Free speech does not mean it is wise to spew every word or phrase that occurs in your mind out of your mouth. I am living proof, and I didn’t kill anyone, I merely misspoke and one tiny spoken word-phrase wreaked havoc in my life.

I’ve never been too sure about the notion of God having a plan, or things happening for a reason because God works in mysterious ways. I’ve always functioned by the God helps those who help themselves notion, believing in hard work, bootstraps, and often recycled resources. Because of my “free speech”, I paid a price for choosing to say a couple words (choosing may be a little strong here, it was more of a brain puke). I helped myself into a whole different life way earlier than planned. My plans rarely have gone according to my plan. I was having health issues and just hanging on every day, trying to do the best work I could until a planned retirement date. Perhaps the body had just had enough, and bypassed the brain barrier, sending the damning words straight to my mouth. Probably self-sabotage (I was in a bullying situation – the whole story is long, boring, annoying, and still traumatic to recount, and we’ll grant my employer over-reacted, or as my brother says from their reaction, they were looking for an excuse to get rid of me), I’m still paying the price with daily anxiety and depression. C’est la vie. Life is tough. Then we learn new things.

These days it seems we run into bullies everywhere: road rage, line rage, hurry rage, poverty rage, difference rage. I recently dealt with a bully at the local grocery store when he started yelling at the clerk who was checking my items out to hurry up. Again, another long story, but suffice it to say I told him what for, supported the shy clerk, told the manager what a good job the clerk was doing and no thank you I didn’t need help telling the bully his words were out of line. I was proud: not one expletive escaped my mouth, and the local police are now in possession of this man’s name, because in this small town if there are any repercussions or retaliation from him he is on record. If this man had pulled out a gun and shot me in the middle of the store, so be it.

That’s what this horrible incident feels like. One man speaking his personal hate and acting on his hateful thoughts instead of keeping them to himself. Three men willing to risk their lives (I’m sure the thought never crossed their minds, that this bully might be so full of hate he would attack them with a knife in broad daylight on public transit) for the protection and safety of two women. They could have been any women, they could have been elders, they could have been tattooed and pierced youth, they could have been other skin colors, they could have been people of many other differences, these men stepped up to help them.

Here’s the difference as I see it. The perpetrator judged the women because they were women and how they were dressed and the color of their skin. They were complete and total strangers. He really had no knowledge at all of who those women were, how they lived their lives, or how they believed. He may be entirely wrong with his assumptions from their appearance, but he spoke and acted on his hate, not on any real knowledge of the real lives of these women. He may have perpetrated hate upon any target of his choosing.

The three men who stepped in were complete and total strangers from each other as well, and strangers from the women, and strangers from the perpetrator. They did not act out of hate, but out of love. That is true free speech. They voiced their opinion through their actions, supporting women, people of color, choice of religion, though none of these differences were what their decision was about. These three men would have done it for any person. Any person. Regardless of difference.

Other people have also behaved deplorably around this incident. While one of the men was dying, another man stole his wedding ring and backpack. Can you be so desperate you steal from a dying bleeding man? What is wrong with people? The thief was caught on film and has since been captured.

Other people have made a difference since this incident: the people who helped the men who died, who held them while they left this world; the helpers who got assistance to capture the perpetrator and aid the injured; the mother of the younger man who died who comforted others who grieved for her son.

What do I take away from this? I think whatever I want, but I am more careful than ever what I say and what I do when I am with others or out in public, and I avoid going out in public whenever I can. You never know when another person is willing to hurt you without knowing you because they make a judgment on your appearance, and sometimes words don’t help. Be proud of me: I don’t give the one finger salute anymore when driving, even when people drive weird; I drive more cautiously. Instead I give them the peace sign hoping to encourage them to be more patient and slow down. While hate may be irrational in most circumstances, you never know when somebody will act on their hate. These days you can’t be too careful out there.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Lilies popped out this week. Yellow. Orange. Striped. Lantern.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Hidden Figures (2016, rated PG) based on the true story about the contributions of African-American women to the space program at NASA. I’m taking this film at face value and it looks to me we would not have put a man in space without these women, yet it took us more than 50 years to give them any kind of credit or recognition. I hang my head in shame for the inconsistencies and disparities of honoring the contributions of any person to American society because they aren’t white and male. I cried when Kevin Costner ripped down the “Colored Women’s Bathroom” sign and he said “Here at NASA we all pee the same color.” I love this movie so hard. Recommended. Should be required viewing from 5th grade on up (small amounts of racial violence would keep me from recommending viewing for littles, but after watching Captain Fantastic, I question why we sugar coat any information for youngers, don’t they deserve to know the truth no matter how hard it is?). * Netflix posted the third and last season of Bloodline (2017, rated TV – MA). I enjoyed the first two seasons immensely; the characters and the plot were compelling. This last season not so much. It felt like the writers just gave up when they were told it would be the last season. A couple of episodes you can’t tell if they are the result of plot devices like drugs or dreams or bad writing, but they are so confusing as to not make any sense whatsoever. AND there is a major flaw in the plot, no spoilers in case you are watching, but pay close attention to the courtroom scenes and to who is lying. Hint: everybody lies. * Another sleeper hit: Captain Fantastic (2017, rated R) with Viggo Mortensen, as the father who raises his family off grid, and the judgments he suffers when his mentally ill wide commits suicide. Quite a comment on modern education, food, and consumerism, and a celebration of intellect, knowledge, and discovery. Plus there’s a few seconds scene of Portland. Watched it twice. Recommended.

Currently Reading – On to summer reading! I like lighter fare in the summer, stories I don’t have to concentrate too much on, that I can pick up and put down when other events are more imminent. Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series fits right into that category. Do start with One for the Money, as they build upon each other. I’m on Tricky Twenty-Two (2015, fiction). Stephanie does code enforcement (bail bonds or bounty hunter) for her low-life cousin, because she has trouble keeping jobs and cars. There’s always a little mystery or two and enough humor to be laughing every page or so at the antics she and her side-kick Lula get up to. And she has two love interests. Lots of fun. And welcome relief from the depths of finances and politics of Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (2016, radical politics), by Jane Mayer. So much history, so little time, but the light on the dirty politics of American finances becomes clearer with every page. Money rules. It even buys science. The power the wealthy have is frightening.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Going to a medical appointment on the far east side on the metro area, when I am on the far west side. Planned an early departure, drive didn’t take as long as planned, traffic moved well though slow in spots, arrived early, and they were able to take me early. Home much earlier than I thought the journey would take. Had to drive by the place where the above mentioned incident took place last week. No incidents.
  • Being the passenger on the above journey and getting to enjoy people watching and looking at the buildings. Lovely architecture in Portland.
  • To live where I do and as I do after viewing how many others live in the metro area.
  • Trees and green spaces.
  • The little bit of money savings I have and learning how to keep it.
  • Hubster replacing his broken library card, and he got two key cards along with the main card. He was so excited he insisted I replace mine with the 40th anniversary edition, with key cards to make it easier for the hubster to pick up my library items. There were two versions, one pictured a fish (hubster’s) and I picked the one with the bunny rabbit. The kind clerk even let me pick my own number out of the rack of cards he had available to make it easier to memorize my new number because I’ve had my old number for 20 years. See what happens when you ask nice? It was a quiet day; he had the time to accommodate the old lady.
  • Old TV shows: I’ve been enjoying the Cybill Shepherd show, Cybill (1995 – 1998, not rated) and The Ellen Show (2001 – 2002, not rated) with Ellen DeGeneres.
  • Getting to celebrate with a friend who had her 80th birthday and her family and friends.
  • Knowing how to cook and being able to walk into the kitchen and prepare a meal when the guys declare there is nothing to eat. Wonder woman.
  • Fresh Willamette Valley asparagus.
  • Oregon Hood strawberries are starting. They always cost more at the beginning of the season, but worth every bite.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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This entry was posted in abundance, Education, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Photography, Poetry, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Gratitude Sunday: The Consequences Of Free Speech

  1. Pingback: Gratitude Sunday: Damn The Fear; Yes To Go | Sassy Kas

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