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first sermon of the new year

Its really easy to (disagree) when all of your disagreements are theoretical - http://ashleighthelion.tumblr.com/post/58498008281/blacksentai-white-dudes-have-this-thing-where

This describes the problem with the idea of a friendly disagreement, where the issues involved are anything but friendly, very well.

To my mind, this also connects to a similar problematic concept: "agreeing to disagree", where both people are supposed to accept that they'll never be able to change the other's mind. Supposedly a model of temperance and fair-mindedness, I'd argue that this, too, is a luxury that many can't afford. I'd argue that agreeing to disagree, far from a virtue, is a reactionary and politically stifling concept that is counterproductive to social progress.

It's one thing if friends come from different places of origin, and bring their own perspective on topics. That's to be expected, even encouraged. Friends -- people in general -- should be able to have animated discussions and even arguments, and not always come to a perfect agreement. But the reason for that is because truth is a work in progress. It's not because people should be defending their mutually exclusive territory. Agreeing to disagree would have us start at different places... and never leave those points of origin. Yes, our personal issues need to be acknowledged. But from there, they need to be surpassed. Debate is a process of improvement, not a way to affirm atomism.

"Judge, and be prepared to be judged" - Ayn Rand, in a rare lucid moment

"I'll call you on your shit, please call me on mine" - Propaghandi

Progress happens when we are respectful of our frequent need to have our presumptions disrespected.

It's easy to stereotype radical groups as closed-minded, unwelcoming, and only concerned with a single set of issues. Some groups that call themselves radical are indeed only radical in the most narrow sense of the word; it's all the patriarchy's fault, they say, or it's all capitalism's fault. But radicalism and multidimensional analysis are not exclusive. Radicalism, if it's worthy of the name, is willing to keep digging. It's receptive to new ideas, flexible in its thinking, and willing to debate, provided those debates are constructive.

In my experience, liberal circles have been the most silencing, and the least willing to work towards uncomfortable truths. On one hand, they've put things up for debate that really shouldn't be, in the name of fairness and inclusion; on the other, they've kept some subjects verboten, in the name of not pushing people out of their comfort zone. But growth and development has everything to do with being pushy. With limited time and limited resources, advocates can't afford to water themselves down, nor to bog themselves down in second-guessing based on how other people might react. Advocates should push in a smart, contextually aware way, yes. But they should push. As far as you push others, that's as far as they might come along with you. While, as far as you don't push, that's as far as they'll never move. You do them no harm by pushing, and though they might disappoint you, you do yourself no harm by being disappointed. For advocates -- and anyone who thinks along political lines should be an advocate of something -- a corollary to being prepared to be judged might be this: allow yourself to risk disappointment in others, as long as they might pleasantly surprise you.

Comments

scaleness
Jan. 24th, 2014 07:09 am (UTC)
Understood. You needed to know where the hell this post was coming from, and I needed to be heard and not have a misunderstanding snowball out of control.

I don't have a grudge against you, and I wish you the best in the future. However, I'm still disengaging, for good this time, because I'm no longer comfortable around you.

When being called out, whatever your personal feelings or whether or not you feel talked down to, you should always be gracious about it and willing to learn. Moreover, when I wasn't on LJ, you didn't engage with me, other than once to seek closure for yourself. I don't hold that absence against you, but you could have known more about my friend situation, for instance, if we had continued to interact at that time.

And you're a person who understands oppression and understands about bias. If even you don't grok that cows are raped for every milk product, and if even you dig in your heels and get defensive rather than taking steps not to support that rape, then what chance is there with someone else? That's why I found your "I will live as I am" comment particularly depressing. It's as bad as a joke about rape to me. It's as bad as a comment saying "I will go on seeing trans women as men". If I called out something transphobic, you wouldn't say that you would go on doing the thing that was transphobic, but when I call out speciesism, you say that you don't see yourself ever making changes. In the past, I was willing to stifle my feelings and let you work this out (or not) on your own. But given recent events, I feel that that's been rewarded with a falling-out over something I didn't do. I'm sorry, but I'd rather that we fall out over what I genuinely have a problem with. I find you as high-handed as you find me.

I want to withdraw for now, not because I'm trying to make you feel bad about yourself, but because this is taking too much out of me and I'm getting too little out of it to justify carrying the guilt of giving you grief on top of having to fight for my emotional survival.

I feel much the same. You shouldn't have to shoulder that guilt, nor should I have to shoulder the guilt of putting your emotional survival at risk. I didn't think I had that kind of power, but if I do, I sure don't want it. I want out of that power dynamic. I really do, and I'm truly, truly sorry, but I don't think it's healthy to keep being your friend. ;_; Maybe if I'm perfectly honest about just how uncomfortable I am around non-vegans, you'll only walk away hating me and I won't have to risk having you walk away shattered.

I think this was the inevitable result of our getting back together. For whatever it's worth, I did get a lot of positive things out of it, and I'm glad that you convinced me to come back to Livejournal and spend some months thinking out loud here. If a failure, our friendship has at least been an interesting failure.
_wastrel
Jan. 24th, 2014 07:42 pm (UTC)
Understood. You needed to know where the hell this post was coming from, and I needed to be heard and not have a misunderstanding snowball out of control.
This is all true.

I don't have a grudge against you, and I wish you the best in the future.
Good luck, in earnest.
However, I'm still disengaging, for good this time, because I'm no longer comfortable around you.
I've been trying to tell you I was uncomfortable around this from the start. Even now writing this my heart is racing. Thank you for finally stepping back.

you say that you don't see yourself ever making changes.
But I've always said that, it's always been my prerogative, and the fact that you think you can resort to this kind of "my way or the highway" emotional blackmail to coerce people to change their lives for you show you're coming from a place of emotional entitlement where you can no longer be reached.
I think you and I have different - possibly equally valid for all I know - conceptions of what friendship means that can't be reconciled. When someone always tries to get me to change my way of life to meet their expectations, I don't feel like a friend, I feel like a recruit, like a putative notch on that person's belt - like a piece of meat, dare I say, like my value to "the cause" overshadows the possibility of my intrisic value. If you can't accept someone for who they are, they may be a verbal sparring partner, someone you interact with on a certain basis somehow, but from my perspective, they're not your friend.

When being called out, whatever your personal feelings or whether or not you feel talked down to, you should always be gracious about it and willing to learn.
See, though... that's exactly the kind of rhetoric that's going to make people feel like they're being talked down to in the first place. :P I mean, really stop and look at it. It's patronizing.

I didn't seek you out beyond LJ because I read your entry about Polanski and rape, on the one hand, and because we strongly clashed on vegan issues, on the other. Some people would've taken that as a hint.

I'm sorry, but I'd rather that we fall out over what I genuinely have a problem with.
I wouldn't know whether to address that it wouldn't occur to you that other people's problems would be as important to them as yours are to you, or that you'd have more of a problem with the meat industry than the rape culture in the first place, if I were going to address either.
I don't think it's healthy to keep being your friend.
I agree.

Maybe if I'm perfectly honest about just how uncomfortable I am around non-vegans, you'll only walk away hating me and I won't have to risk having you walk away shattered.
The former is certainly true, and I'm grateful to you for the latter. Your comparisons between rape and the meat industry appall me. To me, it's like you're calling my friends who have been victims cows, and calling my friends and mate and parents rapists, which is offensive to me. I finally understand what people mean when they talk about how some activists develop blood-chilling blind spots around other people's subjectivity and human empathy.

I think this was the inevitable result of our getting back together.
It was only a matter of time. I kept putting it off.
For whatever it's worth, I did get a lot of positive things out of it, and I'm glad that you convinced me to come back to Livejournal and spend some months thinking out loud here.
Likewise.
If a failure, our friendship has at least been an interesting failure.
That's true.

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tsunderekko
scaleness
scaleness

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