How High is High Enough for Consciousness to be Raised

Steve McQueen’s greatest role may have been as a baseball obsessed German POW, the Cooler King.  Regardless of the question, Cooler King’s answer related to baseball because baseball was all he ever thought about.

Some people become obsessed with a cause.  That obsession can be so strong that they believe it is more important than any other cause.  They can fear that any discussion of another worthy cause will steal attention and resources from theirs.

With the Cooler King word association went something like, “popcorn” response; “Peewee Reese”  “Why Peewee Reese?”  “He was a shortstop and he might have been the one to field a popup.”

Steve McQueen (from the Great Escape)

Obsession with a sport or a celebrity is odd but not irritating (unless you are the celebrity).  Obsession with a cause can be irritating to others, though understandable.

In 1967 or 1968 I went downtown to pay my water bill.  This was years before the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) was passed.  As I came to the door there was a young man in a wheelchair trying to get the door open.  I opened the door and held it while he got through into the utility office.

I went to a window and got in line.  Almost immediately there was a sharp rap on my shoulder.  I turned to find a tiny young black woman glaring at me. “You slammed the door in my face.”  “What?”  “You slammed the door in my face.”  “I’m sorry” I said.  “You should be”, she said.

I was feeling really hurt.  I had just helped some young man in a wheelchair get in and was feeling really good about helping when I was suddenly criticized.

Then I thought, “Is she upset because she is black and feels that the handicapped guy was white and it was a case of racism?  Or, was she upset because she thought that, being a woman, I should have held the door open?  I paid my bill and left.

Given the time that that occurred, I imagine she thought I was racist.  I’m glad I didn’t say, “I didn’t see you” which was true.  I might have heard, “Sure, you never see black people!”

The point is that she couldn’t see that I helped a handicapped person for seeing that I didn’t help her.  But she was a courageous person who definitely made her point.  My consciousness was raised.

We have bloggers like that here.  Depending on the writer the answer to any question is “racism” or “sexism” or “anti-Semitism” or “chauvinism” or some other “-ism” depending on their individual life experience.  I understand that. 

What I don’t think is that saying, for example, that I don’t like Ellen DeGeneres’ humor is evidence of homophobia, or that racism is behind every black-white conflict. (I actually love Ellen DeGeneres’ humor.)

"I used to tell Jackie (Robinson) sometimes when they were throwing at him, 'Jackie, they aren't throwing at you because you are black. They are throwing at you because they don't like you."  Peewee Reese

I understand that I may be blind to any bias that I may have, but having someone point out how I am probably biased and don’t know it, and then reiterating that at every opportunity is eventually counterproductive.

I want to scream that I understand white privilege, and I’ve joined the Hallelujah Lesbian Church and this is not about being lesbian or black, but I smile and say thank you for pointing this out (again).

Nothing that I do can make me truly understand the experience of being black in America.  I can understand it on an intellectual basis, empathize, endeavor to be fair and equal, but I can’t truly know what it is like. 

I understand male chauvinism. I understand the quiet fury at being paid $0.70/1.00 simply because you are a woman.  I have daughters who were both single mothers at one time who could not live on their wages while men doing the same job could.

I’ve tried to imagine having to pretend to love another man because heterosexuality was considered a mortal sin punishable by stoning. 

I’m not the only one who gets it on many of these issues. 

If I write about how to make applesauce I don’t need a diatribe about how the apples were picked by poor Mexicans who had to live in the shed out back where Lupe or Maria had her baby without medical care; or an expose on the horrors of alar and the beauty of black spots on organic apples.

If I complain that I couldn’t find some variety of apples which is my favorite for making applesauce it’s all right to explain about the late freeze in Michigan where most of those apples grow.  And it’s all right to tell me that some state passed a law making it a criminal offense to hire migrant workers without a green card and there weren’t enough workers to pick the apples.

Understand that I’ve never made applesauce.  I was just trying to find an example to illustrate my point.  This isn’t about applesauce…or baseball.

Views: 695

Comment by Rodney Roe on October 6, 2017 at 4:55am

I'll be busy today.  We're meeting some friends on the gulf coast tomorrow.  It looks like Tropical Storm Nate will be well west of us.  I appreciate everyone her and your opinions.  I hope this doesn't offend.

Comment by koshersalaami on October 6, 2017 at 5:05am

I love this.

Comment by Steel Breeze on October 6, 2017 at 6:47am

R&L....more than once....

Comment by Foolish Monkey on October 6, 2017 at 6:53am

my first thought is there are degrees of obsession.

for example a woman is attracted to a man, she doesn't know him and circumstances do not permit her to follow through with her attraction. 

in one instance, she watches when he enters her periphery.  maybe she engages him and they become friends.  the point is, she doesn't allows her interest and attraction to become stalkish behavior. 

because the extreme of this is to become intrusive, to make her feelings known repeated, to constantly try to engage this man because she has justifications that she believe give her permission to intrude on this person.

this is a personal one to one example.  but these kinds of obsessions come down to one to one engagements.  someone is going to get hurt, badgered, annoyed.

ultimately, which to me is the saddest outcome of this - the any goodness or rightness in the engagement is lost.  in my example, the good that comes from attraction is pushed aside by annoyance, aggravation, fear, anger at being unfairly imposed upon.

the woman who came up to you and pointed out you didn't hold the door - imo, she was wrong.  if she were white, it would be clearer that her actions were about a woman being very self involved. 

but her feelings might not have been about being self involved so much as having had a lifetime of every white person ignoring her and never holding the door.  so I get where you used this to rethink what she said to you and I admire that.  

but you overlook this - in helping that man, you were limited to two hands and two feet.  you held the door presumably with one hand and helped him steer into the office with the other and I'm going to guess your back was involved as well - perhaps holding the door as you went through.  your eyes were looking ahead for the handicapped man and getting him in safely.  I've had similar difficulties when my kids were in strollers which back in the day were monstrously large, heavy and unwieldy, so getting through a narrow doorway could be incredibly difficult.  so I can visualize where the handicapped guy was, i can see where you were and I can see the black woman right behind you. 

but my next thought is perhaps she might have helped YOU get that man in the door.  wheelchairs are bigger than strollers and grown men wheeling them are having a harder time.

that she didn't want to be overlooked, or resented being overlooked is understandable.  but getting up in your face and ignoring the circumstances, to my mind isn't. 

I care deeply about racial divides and inequality but I don't think it should be used to badger others, especially when those being badgered are actively trying to get living this life right.   maybe your act of helping that man indicated you were a deeply caring individual and she was saying to you = CARE about me!  

my guess is, she never would have said what she said to you, to a redneck. (unless she was a pretty old).  you felt safe to her.  that in a way is a compliment but it still doesn't make it right. 

Comment by Foolish Monkey on October 6, 2017 at 7:09am

I care deeply about racial divides and inequality but I don't think it should be used to badger others, especially when those being badgered are actively trying to get living this life right.   

actually I take that back - badger assholes!  badger wrong doers!  go forth and annoy! 

but making your life's purpose badgering everyone - just because you feel righteous is incredibly self indulgent. 

rodney THIS is one of the biggest problems on the internet, faceless, bodyless individuals badgering the living crap out of strangers because they've given themselves permission to.  

if you let yourself, it's easy to become obsessed and half crazy with it, behaving in ways, saying things we would never dare say in person.   our world has become a perfect petri dish to grow obsession.  

Comment by alsoknownas on October 6, 2017 at 7:19am

The applesauce I had last evening was a bit too tart for my liking. I preferred Grandma's version.

My old style dark grey with a black bill Cubs hat has been too warm to wear. I'll get it out this weekend.

Comment by Rodney Roe on October 6, 2017 at 7:38am

FM, I've read that 40% of communication is non-verbal.  Emoticons can't replace that.  

The message in the non-verbal body language is often contradictory to the words spoken.  We get that and factor it into our assessment of the person's honesty, intent, emotional involvement and respond accordingly.  None of that can be read here.  So, I think a lot of the dust-ups on the internet are due to misunderstandings.  But, I agree.  Some people are just bullies.  Have you thought that the tweeter in chief tweets specifically because his tweets are faceless, bullying, terse lies?

Comment by koshersalaami on October 6, 2017 at 8:50am

His tweets aren't faceless. 

The woman who reprimanded you didn't actually mention race. 

I know what it's like to get wheelchairs through doors. My son was in one, and I generally had to push the chair while handling the door. In retrospect, if you weren't startled: Sorry, I had my hands full getting that wheelchair through the door. 

But a lot of people are oblivious to that kind of thing. I was once at Disney World, eating breakfast in a self serve place (I think Port Orleans) when, from across the room, I saw a family trying to come in. The woman was using a walker and was obviously unsteady. They were having difficulty as I think they were all behind her.  No one near them got up to help, so I went over and held the door. On their way out, her husband (I assume) stopped at my table and asked "Did you go to open the door from here?" Yes, no one closer noticed. I'm sensitive to this stuff because of the years I had dealing with it. I know what it's like to struggle with doors. But the thing is that no one closer noticed. Most people aren't tuned in to this, probably including the woman behind you. That's on her. 

Comment by koshersalaami on October 6, 2017 at 8:59am

I know what you mean about the emoticons, which I don't use. People here sometimes assume I'm using a tone I'm not using. The vast majority of the time, I'm not excited or upset or combative when I type something. I'm unusually level in terms of mood. I think some animate my words way more than I speak them. 

A friend of mine once observed to me that evil comes primarily from fear. There are a lot of people who wear insecurities on their sleeves, including the President, and those people get angry often.

Comment by Rosigami on October 6, 2017 at 9:18am

The general anxiety and stress that some of us feel every day now because of the current administration and its relentless outward spiraling agenda of backwards thinking and actions, as well as the possible forward dangerous ramifications of playing thoughtless irresponsible footsie with nuclear weapons etc etc etc is not felt IN THE LEAST by those who support the effing moron. 
It makes us blind to each other.


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