Don’t Be an Asshole

OK, soapbox time. I am REALLY tired of people not listening, not respecting and generally tending to assume the worst intentions of ANYONE who has a different opinion than they do and who dares to speak it. This is bullshit and it has to stop.

Here is the truth. Nobody has all the same opinions/thoughts about the world as you. If they did, the world would be a really boring place and we probably wouldn’t have experienced any of the technological advances or other human inventions that you take for granted in your life now. YOUR human experience is NOT the same as THE human experience. It is merely your lens. You have no right to assume that someone else would or should share your opinion about anything. And if you think your opinion is THE ONLY legitimate or “correct” way to think about things, you are an ignorant fool. You could learn something by shutting the hell up and LISTENING to someone who has had a vastly different life experience or who just disagrees with you on some important issues. Have some humility and allow others to share their thoughts and experiences rather than assuming that they should consider themselves lucky to be hearing yours.

When you believe in your heart that you have the right answers to life’s problems, you negate other people’s agency to work on actually solving those problems. Because it is guaranteed that, regardless of how educated or knowledgeable you are about a topic, someone else somewhere knows something on that topic that you do not. The ONLY thing you can say for certain is that the things you think you KNOW to be true about the world are ONLY true based on the subset of human experiences that you have personally been blessed with or encountered on your own. You have NO knowledge about what life is like for the other 7.9 trillion people on the planet, all of whom have had VERY different sets of life experiences. Do you really believe that you know what is best for them all? Are you a God(dess), or just an egotistical faker trying to obtain power and control over others?

Nobody wants to cede control over their life, liberty, body, care or interests to another person, whether they are a relative or not. Everyone wants to feel like they BELONG. Freedom is not only something we all strive for as in “freedom to” do/say this and that, but also the “freedom from” oppression, control and poverty. We can all experience both sides of freedom if/when we take the time to step back from the feelings of needing to be right and let go of wanting to dominate. Everyone should have the right to speak what is true for them and expect to be heard, which means you also must expect to listen and really hear what they are saying. That is what’s called “empathy” and it is literally the best (only?) tool we have to come together to solve our existential crises. We will all most certainly perish as a species, taking many others along with us, if we continue to debate constantly about shit that DOES NOT MATTER. There is nothing I believe more strongly in than that.

Patriarchy, sexism, racism, ableism, religious institutions, capitalism and authoritarianism all exist to tamp down and even destroy our inherently empathetic human nature. When you see a person who is in danger and you have the ability to help them but choose not to because they don’t look or act like you, you are part of the problem. You also have agency and the ability to choose the other path. Grow your empathy and be part of the solution.

The easiest way to do this is to continuously remind yourself that curiosity is greater than judgment. If you go into a conversation with someone you do not like, do not agree with or just plain despise, keep a measure of child-like curiosity about them and about yourself and your emotions. All those feelings about that person may still be present, but you can still put those feelings aside and listen to the person. You might even learn something about their background that gives you some context about their situation and why they are the way they are. If you keep a curious, open mind, you might just realize that you never really did hate the person; you merely hated who/what you thought they were. You might just be humbled.

The alternative is that you just keep being an asshole. But don’t do it! Don’t be an asshole.

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