Soapbox Proselytizing

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Soapbox Proselytizing:
My Personal Aversion to (Almost) All Things Written in CAPITAL LETTERS
or: “Please Stop Screaming at Me”

I’m wondering if I can pull this off. An essay that bemoans the constant bombardment of the new quasi-soapbox evangelists – those trumpeting their small causes and/or personal beliefs without much else to go on than uniformed emotional responses – without actually getting on one myself.

I’m not speaking of true activism. Not true educated stand-points. Just those random soundbites and blurbs, supported here and there with, perhaps, the randomly pulled statistic from a questionable study from a questionable source. Just any sentence taken out of context will do here, to support these holier-than-thou elevations I believe are secretly behind the formulated speeches that seem a bit too close to Evangelical rants for comfort.

It seems to be based around judging. Judging others and their choices and behavior – and based on little else. Just the belief by a person, proverbial soapbox in hand, that their ideas about life and living and its various minutiae are somehow superior to yours or mine.
Examples:
Where one acquires their pets. Hot topic, that. Often requiring, in this digital age, the extreme use of CAPITAL LETTERS to reinforce the pseudo-points. ENTIRE SENTENCES COMPOSED WITH THE CAPS LOCK LEFT ON.
Who one sleeps with.
Who one marries, or does not.
The choice to have children, or not.
One’s religious belief system, or lack thereof.
How one is employed, or is not.
How free time is spent.
How one dresses, acts, and seems. And it’s that latter word – seems – that is key.

For often in speaking their often uninformed opinions people are making gross, and likely inaccurate assumptions, about how the rest of us seem to be living.
You can’t get away from it.
Because, thanks to the preponderance of social media, I switch on my computer and am bombarded with rants and messages – not necessarily directed at me, but there all the same. And they always seem to speak to how I should be living and the choices I should be making. Tiny choices. Small decisions. Personal. Private. Situations I do not feel I should have to explain or defend, either on public platforms or otherwise. Live-and-let-live, no?

CAPITAL LETTERS. I can’t help but think of the old, but true adage, that when engaged in an argument, as soon as one person starts yelling the other stops listening. This is how I feel when I am bombarded with this virtual form of screaming. I scroll on by. I block, as best I can. I find it offensive and often it seems to work against whatever cause the individual in question is trumpeting.

Am I being too sensitive or critical? Maybe. But does this negate my premise? That silence is better than bullshit ranting. I feel I am just observing a rather annoying and growing trend, whereby others are hoping to convert the world to their way of living. As if any one way was the right way.
As if we could make carte blanche statements about the private choices and actions of others without any real details at all. Any real or substantial particulars. Dyadic thinking: A. is RIGHT. B. is WRONG. And that’s that. Dualistic, black and white thought structures that, frankly, have led to a lot of trouble over the years. But I’ll leave the postmodern analysis at that for now.

Mind you – though this shouldn’t need clarification, but I best put it in – I am not speaking about the big issues: the extreme prejudice and violence and discrimination and other gross atrocities that occur daily, around the world. The crimes that make my blood boil. The injustices that, quite literally, bring tears to my eyes. These are in abundance. Just look around.

I am also not speaking about the invaluable genre of the critical essay, or other forms of enlightened analysis – cultural criticism at its best. The line is not too hard to find, if one looks closely. There is a great difference – and soapbox rantings versus critical social dissection both serve very different ends. Both for the writer and the recipient. This essay is neither, mind you. I’m not pretending to go to any great depths with my observations. Not yet, anyway. I’m just observing, that is all.

I am also not speaking about the sharing of one’s personal political and socio-cultural views, often supported with well-written articles. Even if I don’t agree with you I respect that we need these voices. All voices. We all need to speak out while we still can. Speak up. Act out. Share. Inform. The spread of real and relevant information is invaluable in our current environment. I am also quite guilty of using social media in this way. I’m sure it not welcome by all, but I value others that do, and so continue. I believe in some way it is quite important.

What I am trying to address are the running commentaries I see regarding small lifestyle choices made by certain individuals – choices that may be misread or misunderstood and yet are judged all the same. Judged. Ugly word, best reserved for certain subsets of society that are, without question, doing wrong. There are enough of these people and attack away – I say! And again – I’m stuck in an uncomfortable position. Because it might be said that I am judging.

In answer to this, I would simply say that I am not singling out any individuals – just a pattern and an irritating one at that. I am trying to parse the micro from the macro. What is relevant and what is not. Because so much can get lost in the fray.

For instance (and by way of just one example): I personally don’t care where you’re dog is from. Is it love? True love? Can you imagine your life without your companion? No? Then isn’t that enough?
Are you better than me because you adopted your dog from a kennel or shelter or rescue center, where it may have been bound for, or on, “death row”? Are you rabid in your defense of certain, ‘misunderstood,’ breeds?

Yes, I bought my dog, one of the great loves of my life, from a pet store. This was not my intention, or even a conscious decision. I simply saw him one day – quite by accident – and I knew: he’s the one. Quite simple. End of story. And I was right.

We don’t pick who we fall in love with. One doesn’t pick where one finds them. It just happens. Kismet. And for the record, at four months old he was getting a bit long in the tooth for a pet store window. Guess where he was going to wind up in a matter of days? Not the family farm, I assure you. And when I gaze at my darling little dog – my innocent; my little big dog; my ambassador of love – I think: politically correct this-and-that be damned. He is the light of my life and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Why so much energy spent on how one believes things ought to be, choices that ought to be made- this imposed morality? Why so much time spent SCREAMING?
I understand that it is quite a natural thing that people want to be heard – and we now have a myriad of platforms within which to raise our voices.
But how should we use those voices? And by posing this question I run into my initial difficulty with even writing this short piece: Again, I run the risk of ascending to my very own soapbox. God forbid.

Mind you – I have my views and beliefs and guiding principles. My macro and micro opinions. And I’m most certainly not talking about the fact that, in my opinion – stated again for emphasis – we need to be vocal, extremely vocal; and most certainly when it comes to such issues as wars and other atrocities. Gross crimes against humanity. Human rights violations; war crimes; violence against women, restrictions on women’s rights, the rights of the LGBT community. The need for gun control, the gross wrongs of our government and large corporations. Genocide, homicide, poverty, protests, the destruction of our environment, and so on. The list is endless. Our world is not a lovely place. There is enough to occupy the mind of the revolutionary.

So you might validly ask: where does one draw the line?
But is it truly so hard to see?
© StephiaMadelyne
June 2013

 

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