When the Conflict Finds Me

A few weeks ago, after I mentioned a contemptuous encounter with someone who ended up blocking me on Facebook, I had a friend say to me: “You are always looking for fight, aren’t you?” 

I guess some people think because I talk about politics, religion and other controversial social topics, I'm looking for an argument. They must assume when I see anyone talking about those topics, I immediately jump into the fray. It's probably the same people who have accused me of only talking about those volatile subjects, though as I’ve shown, that’s just not true. (That’s why my blog is called Brain Bubbles; I write about whatever is “bubbling up” in my brain at the moment.)

But the truth is, I don't enjoy conflict.
I rarely initiate it and I usually try to avoid it.

I readily, unapologetically admit I’m passionate about some of our country's serious social issues.

I care about poverty, hunger, homelessness, and I talk about it. We have the resources to solve this completely, effectively and quickly, but we spend money is other areas. Why is that not a priority? 

I'm concerned about education, and gun safety, and human rights.

Trans people are being murdered and committing suicide at high rates, and lawmakers seems obsessed with which restroom they use in public. Yes, I am going to talk about that!

We send young people to war, but won't take care of them when they come home. 

We must do something. I'm convinced we can do something!
So, I think we must talk about these subjects. 

But I don’t go looking for conflict.
Unfortunately though, there are times it seems like the battles come looking for me.

A few weeks ago, I was shopping a local framing business we’ve used on a couple of occasions. The owner and I were talking about my upcoming travel plans, and I mentioned using my AARP card for discounts on my hotel reservations. He said he'd cancelled his AARP membership because the entire organization had been “taken over by liberals.” I calmly said, “Well, since I am liberal, that’s not an issue for me.” He informed me that he “used to be a liberal” until they started supporting sin and immorality, like gay marriage.

What’s a gay man supposed to do with in-my-face homophobia?

Last Fall, we were at a Home and Garden Show in Dallas. We stopped and struck up a conversation with a young man and his wife, who were there as Insurance Brokers; their agency could help people getting healthcare coverage through the Healthcare Marketplace. (aka, “Obamacare”). I ask how using his service would be different than just calling up and talking to a customer service representative at the Marketplace, which I'd done the previous year. He said more than likely, I would “end up talking to someone name Shanequa, who was only qualified to be flipping burgers at McDonald’s.”

What is someone who’s been speaking out about racial justice for 50 years supposed to do with such masked racism?

In a recent conversation on my Facebook page, one of the folks in my friends list—a person I know to be gay and also identifies as Democrat—used the word “retard” to describe an anti-gay GOP candidate. I regularly see people use derivations of the word, such as (pardon the language) "fucktard."

What’s the grandfather of a Special Needs child supposed to do?

Just a few weeks ago, in a discussion on a friend’s Facebook page, I was explaining why I felt our current system of capitalism was harmful, and (in my opinion) went against the intentions of our country’s founders and could not be perceived in any way as “Christian.” Some woman accused me of being un-American and told me to move to Europe.

Not long ago, I posted an interesting interview with a movie critic, who talked about old movies that might have predicted the kind of meteoric rise to power we've seen in Donald Trump. Some man I didn't know commented, and blasted me. I was called a communist, a fascist, anti-democracy, and it was suggested that I was uneducated and was probably on food stamps. Because of a movie review!

What’s a responsible citizen supposed to do with such rampant, distorted neo-nationalism?

I can give so many examples:

  • A Republican Facebook friend told me they favored repealing Obamacare. When I asked what people like me were supposed to do (“Would you rather I die?”), she said I should get rid of my cell phone, my Internet and my computer so I could afford to buy the "real" insurance.
     
  • I see a man I know to be a reasonable person posting a joke that advocates gun violence.
     
  • Someone responds to one of my posts indicating their support of a candidate who has vowed to take away my rights and nullify my marriage.
     
  • Just after my wedding, one person informed me that my marriage was not “legitimate.” A man who's known to troll the sites of Progressive Christians and challenge LGBT voices posted on my Facebook page that my "attractions" were an illusion. (A classic example of what I call a Holy Troller.) He said being gay—being attracted to my husband—was nothing more than a mental illness.
     
  • Several times, I’ve been informed I have cancer because of my “sin.”
     
  • People regularly post Pro-Trump pictures and links on my Facebook page
     
  • I mentioned that my heart was broken when kids were murdered by a shooter at their school, and someone suggested I read the Bill of Rights. (After I was called "un-American.")
     
  • I’ve been called every name you might expect to hear on an school playground or a locker room.

Trust me, these are NOT conflicts I seek out or invite. They just happen!
What am I supposed to do?

Some have suggested I remain silent.
And I agree, if it’s about subjects that have little impact.
But for me, on issues that truly matter, silence could indicate approval. Or at least acquiescence.
Be assured, I do know the difference.

Examples: When it comes Kirk v. Picard, I might have an opinion, but I won’t waste my time arguing with you. However, if you insist that Ted Cruz is the best person to lead our country, I will passionately speak my Truth! (Same for those who want to say there's no difference in any of the candidates, or both parties are the same.)

Tell me The Musters is better than The Addams Family I’ll probably shrug my shoulders. But wave your Bible at me, and says it “clearly says” gay people are going to hell, and you will get a reaction—perhaps in English, Greek and Hebrew!

I've written about my desire for civility, even when discussing politics
On my Facebook page, it states that I only have TWO guidelines when it comes to interaction (comments, questions, disagreements): we should Be Kind and we should Be Civil. I hope to avoid heated confrontations, even when we disagree. But rather than argue, I have banned users who will not comply.

I try to refrain from heated discussions on someone’s else page. (That's like having an argument in someone's else house.)
I don’t visit anti-gay Facebook pages, looking to confront their views.
I don’t go to Fundamentalists’ Facebook pages and engage them in Biblical interpretation.
I don't post on Tea Party Facebook pages, asking why they support such extremist views.
Regardless of how hateful someone's rhetoric might be, I refuse to proclaim they can't be a Christian.
I've never knowingly posted something on a Facebook friend's page that I knew would offend them.

But I've had all of these things happen on my pages!

No, I do not go looking for trouble!  
But sometimes...the confrontation finds me!
What am I supposed to do?

“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people,
but the appalling silence of the good people.”

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”


~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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