How far is too far?
There has been a lot of talk lately about a controversial political figure. Everyone is up in arms against her for some pretty stupid reasons, actually, and all day long, I’ve been thinking, “I should say something.” The problem is, everything I want to say is, well, mean. I’m a big jerk at heart, and I’ve got some pretty venomous hackles raised. As soon as I start to think about putting my thoughts out there, I get a subtle reminder from deep in the back of my brain, “Maybe you shouldn’t alienate the world.”
When I was a teenager, I worked at the world’s largest retail store chain. I would take breaks during my shifts, and there would always be the same group of people in the break room, and we formed a little bit of a clique. They knew me well enough to know what to expect when I started talking, and it was nice having some “work buddies.” One of the women in the break room back then worked in the craft department, and she used to make custom buttons for other employees, since we were unofficially required to wear a bit of flair. She made the buttons for each individual person, based on what she thought about them. It was pretty cool. Well, my button has really carried with me for a while, and I’ve taken it to heart for the most part. It was a simple white button with a dancing snoopy imprinted in the background, and the foreground was simply a nice font that read,
“Lord, Please places your arms around me and your hands firmly over my mouth.”
My mouth has gotten me into a lot of trouble over the course of my life. Its big, its loud, and its prone to firing off without much provocation. Really, its only gotten worse as I’ve gotten older, wiser, and more elegant in my vernacular. I’ve even trained under the Queen-Bitch Mother, scalpel tongued master of sarcasm, as well as the dual fingers of doom. I wouldn’t say that I’ve mastered the twin disciplines of wit and sarcasm completely to the level he has, but I’ve definitely made a couple of people cry. (I’ve born witness to his ability to make them question their sanity.) These are not proud moments in my life, exactly, but they are definitely skills that I posses.
I’ve been reading Miyamoto’s [amazon_link id=”1590308913″ target=”_blank” ]A Book of Five Rings[/amazon_link], and thinking a lot about it not just as part of my work to improve myself as a swordsman, but also in life. Miyamoto tells us that we should not neglect any of our tools, as all of them have a function. If one of my tools is inflammatory language, am I remiss to not use it because I’m afraid of alienating people? A year ago, I’d never have worried about that. I’ve come to cherish the friendships that I have been able to retain and develop.
I reel against the infrastructure of America that has developed in the last decade. I hate the people that would take advantage of hate and fear for their own personal gain, the talking heads that make up the modern news entertainment media. If I begin to use their same tactics, if I stoop to their level, am I just adding to the problem? Is there ever really a situation where the ends justify the means? Can I be that Machiavellian?
These are the questions I keep asking myself. I’m not sure if there is a right answer. I’m sure there is a politically correct answer, an answer that the Internet Marketing gurus would give me, an answer that Miss Manners would give me, and an answer that is right for me in there somewhere. I guess it comes down to what our goals are.
Can you rage against the machine without becoming another cog in it?