Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I walk away

All evidence to the contrary, I'm a lover not a fighter. I don't like conflict, not because I'm not good at handling it, but because I find it counter-productive in nearly every situation. Take yesterday's little road-range incident: Rather than speed-up/slow-down/yell expletives at each other, why not just shut the hell up and drive? You'll get there in one piece (well, probably) and probably faster than had you wasted time dicking around with some stranger. So in general I avoid conflict, which means I walk away. It's not something young men are frequently able to do, but since I'm approaching "older than dirt" I don't find it makes me feel less manly. I'd prefer to be GENTLEmanly, than just plain manly anyway.

Example the first: One of my interests is personal finance, specifically helping other people with their finances, getting out of debt, making smart money decisions, etc. There are a number of "gurus" with radio and television call-in programs to which I enjoy listening. One of them, however, laces his financial advice with a HEAVY dose of fundamental, evangelical Christianity. I don't have a problem with fundamental, evangelical Christianity, in theory, but I don't think it has anything to do with personal finance. Unfortunately, from my perspective, this guy is one of the most popular of the "gurus" and was even profiled on 60 Minutes last week, but they left out the God part. Now, before you think I'm just splitting hairs let me recount the story of why I just cannot listen to this guy anymore-

A woman called, in tears, asking for advice on how to divorce her husband and get half of the marital assets. His response was to ask why. She admitted that she has a problem with alcohol, but her husband is even worse with a drug habit and won't make any effort to clean either of them up. His response was to suggest that they get counseling instead of a divorce. She said that she's tried it, several times to no avail. She said her only option at this point was to get away from him. His response, and I'm not exaggerating in the slightest, was to tell her that alcoholics are habitual liars and that she hasn't tried hard enough to fix her marriage. He verbally bashed her for no less than 5 minutes on what a terrible person she is for trying to destroy the "sanctity" of marriage and he wasn't going to help her do that. She was sobbing louder than I've ever heard someone cry before or since.

So I walked away. I can't abide someone who hates in the name of his God. It's entirely my choice and within my power to turn off the radio, which I did.

Example the second: I read a LOT of blogs. I'm up to 68, though it was 69 (*snicker*) earlier this evening. I used to read the blog of an undercover cop here in Texas, one who used to tell a lot of interesting stories about drug busts and the like. Last week he wrote about how difficult it can be for cops to make routine traffic stops. I won't retell the stories, because I'm sure you can imagine the adrenaline-level required to deal with the unknown on a daily basis. His general take was "shoot first, ask questions later". I'm not a cop, so I'm not going to second-guess his area of expertise. I wish it weren't so, and I wish cops wouldn't automatically assume that I'm the same asshole that took a shot at him last week but it's a dangerous job that I sure wouldn't want to have to do. Tonight's entry, however, was a little outside his area of expertise, so I think I'm within my rights to question it. He wrote about the people who either refused or failed to evacuate from New Orleans and are now dead, dying, or otherwise suffering. His take was, "you're stupid, you deserve it". In his defense, he excused those who made an attempt to flee and I can't really argue whether those that didn't are truly stupid or not. The obvious problem is saying that someone deserves to suffer. How on earth do you justify wishing harm on someone? I just can't do it, even those who wish harm on me (of whom I'm sure there are plenty). Now I know Zelda and Jethro are fans/friends of this guy, so I'm not going to badmouth him by name. I'm just going to exercise my right to remove those who openly and proudly hate from my life. I deleted the shortcut and walked away.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not perfect. I'm well aware of my shortcomings, but at least I'm working on it. I'm certainly not proud of my faults, and I don't blame them on anyone else (let alone God).


At 4:13 AM, Blogger Zelda said...

It doesn't matter to me who you read and who you don't read, but he never posted anything about shooting first and asking questions later. In fact, he cautioned Jeth and me very strongly about the whole concept. And that was when Jeth and I were just blowing off steam. What he was talking about was having to assume everyone he stops is armed. It doesn't endear him to anyone he ends up pulling over, but it's a necessary evil and I understand it.

As far as the flood goes, I understand that too. If it is in any way possible, these people will be helped regardless of their stupidity in not leaving when they had the chance. But some scolding on the part of society to the people who didn't listen will end up saving lives the next time a hurricane is heading for land.

No one wants to be the dumbass clinging to the roof of his beach front abode and having to be rescued like a cat in a tree. But more so, no one wants to be the corpse floating in their own attic because they thought they could ride it out.

Like everything, it's a matter of personal responsibility. I don't deserve to die because I went rock climbing with faulty gear. But if I'd been killed, it would have been my own fault. And I would have been stupid.

At 4:17 AM, Blogger Zelda said...

That being said, all the deaths are a horrific tragedy, but especially the ones who couldn't leave. They most certainly didn't deserve their fate.

At 10:11 AM, Blogger kcterrilynn said...

I saw only a small snippet of the financial guru guy on 60 Minutes last week. I'd never heard of him before and even from the few minutes I saw I thought he was awful! I thought he sounded condcending and rude, and was belittling the people who called him for help. You're right, the show didn't mention his Christianity, but I remember thinking he sounded preachy...

At 10:53 AM, Blogger tinyhands said...

Z- When I said "Shoot first, ask questions later" I wasn't referring to your particular incident and his specific response. I was paraphrasing (albeit harshly) his attitude on traffic stops. As I said, I understand it's part of the job. I don't like it, but I have that luxury.

As for the flood, I still don't see any way for it to be acceptable to say ANYONE deserves suffering, regardless of fault or personal responsibility. I think you agree with me, but I'm not convinced that our 'friend' does.

KCTL- Remember when 60 Minutes used to read viewer mail? When did they stop that? I'd email them my 'experience' if I thought it would make a difference. One-sided journalism. :(

At 12:52 PM, Blogger Brighton said...

Don't even get me started on the evangelical Christians, you know my woes there.
As for the flood victims, why the hell didn't we send buses to get those people out before the storm came? We live in Texas, we know how much warning we get for upcoming storms, why were people with no way out of the city not given the option of a bus ride out of town?? I rode out a horrible hurricane (Alisha) and we were flooded in, I wouldn't wish that on anyone. I do not however feel any sympathy toward the asshats that are looting and shooting at rescue helicopters.

At 1:20 PM, Blogger me said...

maybe that woman could use a little npr, instead. day to day doesn't normally make people cry. (ouch.)

At 1:26 PM, Blogger Zelda said...

I'm going to get all psychological and say that it seems to be the coping mechanism of someone who is forced to watch people die preventable deaths. I don't think there can be any worse feeling.

The only thing that may save lives in the future is to let people know that it is extremely stupid to stay when the authorities are telling you to leave. If that is hammered home enough, perhaps others will be spared.

Brighton - They had buses going all over, but some people decided not to go, and others had medical issues and couldn't leave in time. N.O. is probably the worst city this could have happened to. It's geographic location and the poverty level are just two of many factors that make this horrific.

At 3:15 PM, Blogger evilsciencechick said...


you already know where I stand, I don't need to repeat it here.

and evangelical christian asshats make my ass itch.

At 4:57 PM, Blogger tinyhands said...

Bright-one: With as much warning as everyone says we had, I don't remember it that way. I was in Louisiana at the time, and for most of the weekend we all thought it was going to be the Florida panhandle that got hit. It wasn't until Sunday morning that New Orleans was in the crosshairs, and by early afternoon we were already hearing stories of total traffic congestion. So if you weren't already planning to leave by Sunday morning, you didn't have much chance.

ブレベン: Prairie Home Companion sometimes makes my eyes water...

Z: Yet another one of my faults, I don't have all the answers. ;)

ESC: Eww, a rash in the land of $6 gasoline.

At 11:49 PM, Blogger lucidkim said...

In the defense of those who didn't leave New Orleans - I think it was the third one in a year that was supposed to hit them - and the other ones didn't and I think some people might have just been tired of running. Speaking as one who has spent a good part of the last year racing out of town to avoid possible hurricanes - I can relate. And truly once it is close enough that you know it is going to hit - it is nearly impossible to leave, you end up gridlocked on the interstate.

I don't know how it worked in New Orleans but on Pensacola Beach when they have mandatory evacuations they go house to house to make sure everyone is gone and if someone refuses they make them fill out paperwork so after the storm their next of kin can be notified to identify their body (if they find it). Then they turn off the utilities before the storm hits - so if you choose to ride it out you are already without power, water, sewer and gas. That's just for the people who live on the island (Pensacola Beach) and obviously going house to house in New Orleans isn't possible - but it do wonder how hard the people were pushed to evacuate.

I think a lot of the people who stayed in New Orleans just didn't have the money or resources to leave - they did have bus service taking people to the superdome prior to the storm hitting.

I went 10 days without electricity after Ivan - but I had a clean home, I had access to food, water and ice. It was a hassle and took hours to get - but it was available. At the same time - I felt like I was in hell. It was the most miserable 10 days ever. So for me to imagine what the people in NO are going through is impossible - it does seem to either bring out the best in people or the worst in people. It did not bring out the best in me.


At 6:16 PM, Blogger Gary said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog.You are a nice addition and i hope you'll return.
Btw, I know the radio fellow you mentioned. I've actually even heard him speak in person, and I don't think he's a bad person. But he IS cuaght up somewhat in that judgementalism that so many fundamentalists get caught up in, be they Christion, Jews, or Moslems. There's something about fundamentalism that causes a "We're good, you're bad" kind of mindset.


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