Friday, January 20, 2017

Candor

Now Playing: Gustavo Cerati - Artefacto

I was telling Silvia the other day how I sometimes feel like I'm failing to live up to those "say no to peer pressure" after-school specials or the "speak up, say something!" commercials I used to see back in middle school. You know, the kind of mini-programs tailored to teens and preteens that tell them if they see or hear something that's, well, fucked up, they shouldn't worry about repercussion from their peers and instead voice their concerns.

That shit was always cheesy, but grand epic stories are centered around people who saw or heard terrible things and decided to act. So I guess the message is good to impart whenever possible.

Too bad I don't have a backbone.

The few times I've actively stood up to someone who has said or done something that I thought was rude, immoral, deceitful, or fucked up in some way, my limbs turned to pudding and my heart tried to burst out my chest. I cannot deal with confrontation.

Yesterday, when I was feeling melancholic because of this shit country and a possible shit future, I was in the presence of a bunch of boys who were hanging out and having a good time. TBH, I was probably trying to absorb their happy spirits without having to be an active participant.

Problem is, I have trouble discerning how much high regard I have for one of those boys. I think I do like him some of the time. I don't the other half of the time. I especially don't like myself in the overlaps where he and I exist in the same space.

He'll do that annoying thing where he'll use the N-word at random or refer to women as "bitches", probably under the belief that words are paper-thin and our shared, silly, social media-obsessed generation is too fucking sensitive to them. I've never once told him to cut it out, because I don't want to get into the complicated ways in which language influences mindsets/culture and how it's completely asinine to pretend prejudice doesn't manifest and is reinforced through subtle behaviors.

I don't think I could actively change the mind of someone I'm convinced hasn't had to deal with consequences once in his life, but for the most part, I'm too chicken shit to start a fight when we can't sever ties if all goes wrong. Like maybe I can storm out of the room and run down the street if an argument escalates, but I'm sensing I'd have to see him again at some point or another. So I keep my mouth shut.

Then the weirdest thing happened last night.

I don't remember how or why the topic came about. I barely remember exiting it. I know for a fact I didn't say anything, not even a whisper of, "that's fucked up."

He told us a random story involving his dad. When he (the dad in question) was in college, him and his friends would put firecrackers inside bread and then toss it to pigeons or other birds. Then they'd watch the birds eat the bread and explode.

And as this boy told us this story, he laughed. Laughed as his puppy pounced on his stomach to be snuggled.

When one of the other boys said, "that's messed up," he laughed again and said, "no, it's funny!"

I'm sure I had a look of disgust, but he didn't pay me attention. So the conversation just went to some weird, "I guess it's okay because it was different times and animal cruelty wasn't an issue yet."

????

Less than three decades back? At most?

Are they saying humanity collectively developed empathy for non-human, sentient beings in the last 30 years or so?

Wat.

And I went to sleep shortly after and didn't say a word. Not to him or the idiotic justifications that tried to normalize his anecdote.

I don't know who I'm angrier at.

Right now? Thanks to what happened today and what happened last November and generally what this country has contributed to across generations, in both big and tiny, tiny ways?

Me. I'm angry at me the most.

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"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.