Has this ever happened to you? You are in a mixed group of folks, different backgrounds, genders and what not, and everyone is getting along. One by one the group whittles itself down to a smaller group of people who share the same background and gender. You are left in this homogeneous group. Then one of the others outs themselves with their bigotry. They make a racist comment, or “locker room” talk starts or any myriad of foul vitriolic notion pour out in profusion. The assumption is from them that I am them, the same. I am not you.
It’s awkward. You might feel a need to maybe nod and allow the venom to spill in fear that you need to fit in. It’s unclear to me why when in peer groups the hiding hatred seeps out. I never assume an individual holds my same views or opinions. I assume that the people around me are fully formed and wonderfully themselves, so I don’t project myself or my thoughts onto them. But time and again, I hear things I would never say to another human being and thoughts I’d never hold in my heart expressed.
I say this because time and again, I’ve seen it happen. I’ve told people to stop speaking. I’ve told them I think they are wrong. I’ve lost respect for people and ceased being around them. In times past, I’d argue with them. I remember a person telling me there’s good ones and then there’s the bad ones. I argued with this person until they showed me their “White Power” tattoos. I didn’t stop until they walked away. I’ve stopped trying to change minds.
Poisoned as they are, I let the poison do it’s work and leave them in their venom. It’s their hate to carry, to weigh them down. I won’t shoulder their load. It’s their anger to burn them out. I won’t let that fire burn me. It’s wasted energy spent on an imaginary fear. I’m not trafficking in such things. I will speak up when confront by this stupidity but I will not waste more time than that on such as those.
Assume one thing when you are with another human being, they are not you. You are me. I am not you.