I used the F word on another WordPress account. There is no excuse, I lost my temper. You see, I assume things about people: that they are logical, have a grasp of life, have been in the world for a bit. I should know better. I tend to become attached to people, to care what they think. Like I say, I assume.
I couldn’t be more wrong. The column is written by someone who also has MS. He’s a blogger and a blog linker. He keeps one foot in the golfing door. I assume he has money. He never talks about needing anything, although most of us with MS do have needs. Most of us won’t admit that publicly.
So, why did I use the F word? Because with no knowledge of what young adults go through, he dismissed them all as whiny little babies that should take their ball and go home. He mocked them as participation trophy winners who had better understand that life was about more than participation and they should get on with their lives. Yup, that was the trigger. Protesting against what happened in the election, the issues that they are terrified of, the using our Bill of Rights, our millennials are involved and passionate about their issues. I care about that. It’s part of being a Patriot.
I could give him the short list of my background, but I’m not sure he wants that conversation. So rather than try to be glorified by me, let me stick to the young ones and why I care about them.
When something happens in someone’s life, it could be death, illness, a lack of the basics for survival, you act on what you believe. You act on what you have learned. You act on the compassion you have learned. You act on hard, cold facts that stare at you in your cup of coffee. The people who helped you learn and grow believe that you can face anything together. They watch from the sidelines after their influence time has waned, and they care. My students rallied around me when the MS hit, making sure I had contact with their worlds still. I care about them, all of them. I even care about the one student I could never win over to being a participant. They have many years to grow in yet.
Teachers get nine months with your children. We make mistakes, but we believe in your young people and we never forget them. We watch them learn honesty, learn to donate time to important issues, to protect their brothers and sisters in humanity, to take on issues head first, to fall down, to get back up but to always participate. We love our students. Some teachers showing it through gentle lessons, some teachers by being brutal, but honest, teaching that facing an issue is just the beginning.
I did all the volunteer things as a mom and teacher. Daisy Scouts and Brownies for my daughter, Tiger, Cub, and Boy Scouts for my son. I did Grad night for three years, before the serious onset of my MS. I held after school clubs that were varied and based on population needs. Let’s see: a Magic the Gathering Club in three different schools, Yearbook, Literary magazine, Shakespeare club, Theater, a pre-finals Finger Nail polishing/snack eating study relaxation club for women in high school who were test phobic, a Belly Dance Club, a gardening club. I volunteered at Leesylvania State Park, charging nothing for my time, but reading to preschoolers, working for the Breast Cancer Walk, providing raffle gifts of framed photography, teaching painting on driftwood, cleaning the Visitor Center, joined Friends of Leesylvania to help where help was needed, was on the crew to work for CAST (for children who were taken fishing by a “Captain” on a one to one relationship), decorated for park functions, played in the Haunted History Hike opposite a 15 year old “husband” from the Fairfax family (creepy in a way), taught embroidery and cross stitching, taught a geography club, a stamp club, created a school post office and taught kids to run it. I did a lot more. Why? Because that participation trophy helped everyone. I got to meet and work with some great kids, great young adults who were taking their place in the world. I believe in our Millennials. That’s why I got angry.
I hold people who have gone through difficulties to a high standard of emotional intelligence. This man stated that he didn’t care enough about the election to vote for a difference. That’s cool. I didn’t vote for Trump or Johnson, thinking instead that issues were more important than flailing away at the dark. I understand where the young are coming from, as I am a child of the 60s. Human rights have been on my target for 55 of my almost 59 years. My parents made sure that I understood the difference between right and wrong, helping and hurting, motivation and laziness. They never gave false praise and if you did get some, there was always a caveat on the fact you could still do better. You can ask my mother if you like. She reads my writing now too.
We learned to share. When a Cambodian family came to the US and the father started working at Bachman’s Nursery, my family gave them clothing, toys, a grocery bag of food, furniture which my parents reupholstered to look brand new, and friendship. There was a Lesbian couple that my parents advocated for, believing that the right to be who you are should never be a matter of debate. There was a community center where my parents volunteered and helped make a success. We did paper drives, shoveled snow for our elders, mowed lawns and raked leaves, started gardens with our neighbors, and always, participation was a requirement to be part of society.
I learned to protest unfairnesses in Middle School and was an odd duck then and now in believing in our society. I believe that our reaction to the world, and those who have less than we, is how we show our greatness. I went to a Catholic college although I am not a Catholic. The sisters were Benedictines and at the end of the robes and coif. They were participants in everything in life. Competent women, with scary energy, they taught us by example. The Benedictine rule says to treat each man (person) as if they were Christ himself at your door, to open and allow the hospitality of a heart to go forward by helping another. See, Sisters, I did listen. So that is what I do. I’m not a Christian, that part didn’t stick, but I got all of the really important parts. That’s what makes me angry about this person’s blog.
He had no interest in doing something for others. He sat back and attacked those very children that I believe in with no background, no investigation, and was smug about it. He was more worried that I had sworn on his page ONCE, than he was concerned about the young of this country, who by the way, will run his retirement home and future medical care. He was lazy in approaching the matter of the right to be involved. He was lazy in throwing out a point of view without researching it, and he was lazy disregarding any point of view but his own. He offended me. I lost my temper. I swore and demanded that he was better than what he had written. At that point, I offended him and lost all pretense of being able to be fair and impartial, able to discuss and listen, and I was wrong.
I have a new friend who says if you go into a conversation with your mouth hanging open, you won’t learn anything. It took him an hour to condense his comments to that line. He’s a wise man. He thought before he spoke, synthesized what I said into what he understood, checked his clarity before he responded, and then he did respond. I should have acted more like that. I didn’t. I am a passionate woman about a lot of things. Sometimes I let that passion out to play and it doesn’t always play nicely with others. I’ll work on that. In the meantime, be aware that those young people (under 50) who are participating in the world right now are under my protection. I may not be much protection, but I’m there in the wings waiting to see if they need me. I’ll work on that think before I speak thing, I’m usually pretty quiet, but it will take time.
I guess that I believe in progress forward, a planet we can live on, policies that do not injure, and that we had better start participating before we blow each other up, again. So, Mr. Columnist, whom I shall not name, but will send this link to, you are right. I did blow up and hold you to my standard, not understanding what yours it, and yes, I did use one word that I should never have used. There is no excuse for my words that were written in hot white heat. I judged you. I annoyed you. I went over the top. Passion is no excuse for bad manners. So I apologize to you. I hope you will understand that you touched a nerve within my soul, but please understand that that was no reason for me reacting like I did.
5 thoughts on “Bad Me! An Apology for being Rude”
Right on! We taught you well, and I am proud of you, both for what you stand for (I stand there with you) and for your ability to apologize when you have a reason. That is an uncommon ability and a difficult thing to do.
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You are an admirable and upright woman
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I am struggling to see the other side too, Ann. Have grown up in the same time period and see this election as a slap in the face to progress, yet I know many Trump supporters (family included) who think he is the answer. I guess time alone will sort out this battle.
My fear is that we lose so much in the next four to eight years, that we will never regain a feeling of pride, hopefulness and trust. So I have to speak out.
Six years later and time has passed. Reading this now with some perspective, it doesn’t seem to be an apology at all. It appears instead to me to be an explanatory justification for Ms White’s self-described “rudeness” in using an unsophisticated word which begins with the letter “F”. I think it was never meant to be an apology.
An apology may well still be needed however. Needed by those to whom she was addressing her explanation of her behavior but perhaps even by her older (wiser) self. There is nothing better than time to teach us that our most valued and logical opinions are often hubris disguised. There is indeed an arrogance of youth (whether it be 20, or 50 or 60). Age teaches best that Humility is the greatest of virtues. Much as we hate to admit, “Facts” do change and most things are unknown and many “unknowable”. As evidence I submit the “opinions” of Plato, Descartes, Pascal, Locke etc. I also submit for your consideration a more contemporary little book entitled “Truth” by philosopher Chase Wren. Consider if you will this opinion: When weighing an opinion contrary to your own, no matter how outrageous or unsophisticated it may seem to you, it is often wise and always gracious to give SOME consideration to the possibility that your opinion may indeed be wrong. This is the action that is the glue that cements modern civilization and that permits people to live peacefully in proximity to each other. Only Ms White can decide whether that is a reason for her to apologize at this late date and indeed, specifically what she would apologize for. I offer this aged opinion as an hypothesis for Ms White’s careful consideration.