05 September 2012

Six things I am sick of hearing

1. You are overreacting:
Aside from the instant association this phrase has in my mind with gas-lighting, this phrase gets to me because it is often used for any expression of disgust, dismay, or disagreement. Many people seem to have gotten the idea that any reaction is overreaction, and it’s a bad habit. We should react; we should be passionate about the injustices we see in the world. Lack of reaction is part of the problem, not the solution.

2. That’s just the way it is (It’s always been like that): 
How is that ever relevant? If it is a problem or an injustice or discrimination, its duration should be more of a cause for concern, not less.

3. This isn’t the only place where this happens: 
Much like the above, the more widespread a problem is, the more of a concern it should be. Why do people think that just because something is ubiquitous that it is acceptable, or not worth trying to change? I realize that some people feel overwhelmed by the scope of some problems (I know I sometimes do), but trying to discourage people who feel passionately about wanting to solve problems is counter-productive at best.

4. Getting angry won’t solve the problem: Statistically untrue. Most social problems only change when enough people get angry about them. One could accurately say that ‘temper-tantrums won’t solve the problem’, but anger can be very useful, without resorting to loss of control. Anger will almost certainly lead people to solve the problem, but passive acceptance will most definitely not.

5. You should be afraid: 
I hear this all the time in various permutations. ‘Aren’t you afraid to walk down a dark street alone?’, ‘There are dangerous people in the world, you should lock your doors at all times’, and, my personal favourite, ‘You are vulnerable.’ I am not afraid to walk alone, I don’t lock my doors when I’m awake, and I am no more vulnerable than most people on the planet (of both genders). The media constantly tells us all the things we should fear, and conveniently forgets to put them in perspective. Yes, some people are awful, and do awful things. Most times, they continue doing awful things because people are too afraid to step in and stop
them, or to stand up for themselves or others. See where I’m going with that? Good. Stop being afraid of everything; start being afraid only of fear.

6. Their beliefs are different – we can’t judge them: This is the worst of the bunch, and it goes back to why some ideologies are open to questioning and criticism, and some are not. Cultural or religious differences, particularly religious ones, are often off-limits from criticism or judgement, while political, philosophical or scientific ones are acceptable to criticize. This imbalance means that even when people do something horrific, like stone a 13-year-old girl to death for being raped, someone will tell me that I can’t judge them, because it is ‘their way’. I agree that you should not judge people just for being different, but differences in culture or religion should not make anyone immune to having their actions or policies questioned, criticized, or stopped - if they are a blatant injustice. We should either judge no-one’s actions, behaviour or policies (which would end in a whole mess of crazy), or be able to question everyone’s, without exception. If you are afraid that your actions or behaviour would not hold up favourably under examination, perhaps you should re-evaluate the beliefs that led you to them.

As an honorary mention, the ‘Keep calm and carry on’ meme (and its many permutations) is really beginning to damage my calm*. It’s basically saying that you should sit back and endure whatever problems you have without making a fuss. Don’t fall for it. Make a fuss. It’s the only way problems get solved. Also, the endless repetition is a bit like listening to a record skip - for months.  

*Obligatory geek reference. Had to be done.

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