Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, Oct 15, 2022 - Are We Too Sensitive?

Am I a snowflake? I think I’m a snowflake. I know the term is meant to be pejorative, but I find I have a hard time taking offense at it. Of course, I’m bothered by the fact that someone would use it in my direction for the purpose of making me feel ashamed or foolish. I feel neither of those, but I am hurt by the intent to be hurtful.

I do wish to clarify that those who might call me a snowflake are forgiven for it long before they do so. And maybe that makes me one even more. So be it.  

Snowflake is a term that is used to describe someone, typically liberal in their political leanings, who easily takes offense. Its intention is to bully someone down whom they feel are being too sensitive, particularly with regard to social progress, environmental concerns, and the oft-accompanying hostility of politics. In other words, fragile. The term even includes a gleeful swipe of schadenfreude at a snowflake’s fleeting existence. 

It’s a social coping skill, really. A tool used by those who are, in fact, highly offended themselves by the requirements of our era. The increasing social expectations to be inclusive, equitable, respectful, careful of others, and stewardly of the earth are gnawing at them. 

Of course, whether or not something is truly offensive to these ideals is often debated. For instance, one might look at the publisher’s choice last year to no longer print certain Dr. Seuss books, whose racial depictions now seem dated, and think too much of a deal was being made. When you look closely at the issue, you’ll realize not all was as portrayed by those who criticized it. Bringing it up here is not meant as an opportunity for further debate on the subject so much as a pointing out of how easily a situation, that was intended as an inclusive gesture on behalf of the publishers, became a hostile accusation of cancel culture by others. The sloppy debate points of which ultimately became the entire focus of the debate itself instead of recognizing the genuinely correct gesture of the publishers to use it as an opportunity to say that earlier times might have been okay with things we would no longer do today. Let’s move forward as friends.

Is it likely, though, that there will be things canceled which we might look upon in hindsight and wonder if we had gone too far? Probably. Does that mean we shouldn’t be looking at everything? We definitely should. I’ve said before that we are now in an age where all of our old ideas are being checked for their expiration dates. Why is that so? What is fueling it? Is it possible that human society is maturing? Are these squabbles really growth pains?

I’m sure you’ve picked up on the fact that my answer would be yes. 

So, for those of us who would choose to be well informed on issues like this, and as a point of respect for others, choose to use accepted terminology and depict others fairly, how do we cope with those who would rather we not? 

To be honest, I wish I knew. Wish I had an easy answer for it. The most satisfying ideas, of course, are also the least appropriate. But when I don’t readily know the most loving answer, a direction toward it can often be found by looking at ancient wisdom. In particular, wisdom that teaches us how we were all connected, and that we should find a way to love our enemy. Teachings that encourage us to listen with the heart at the fears of others and read between the lines of their actions so that we might intuit smarter ways of moving toward the future with greater ease. 

Being called a snowflake by someone is a sign that they are afraid of an inclusive future and what it would mean for them. It means they don’t see themselves as a part of it. They don’t get it. They don’t understand why you aren’t as afraid of change as they are. And they’re angry with you for it. Pray for them. Pray for their ease. Don’t tell them you’re doing it. That will have only the opposite effect. But imagine them being at peace, and then do nothing yourself to prevent it. 

Except of course continuing the mission of peace, justice, and equity on earth. Keep doing that.

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