I got a text from a friend the other day. He said he didn’t like the color of my skin, didn’t care for the fact that I had made some money over my lifetime, thought I was privileged and certainly couldn’t believe I would express any support for the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis.
Nice hearing from you, I thought.
He didn’t use those exact words. But I got the drift. He also didn’t consider what he said to be racist, sexist or ageist. No, he was freely expressing his thoughts – the correct ones in his mind – and calling people out for “what they are or what I believe them to be.”
He also suggested that the “rich” people where I live (and there are some for sure) should have refused to take the Covid vaccine so that less privileged individuals could have gotten their shots first.
I know he got both of his vaccine shots before I got mine, and he’s 10 years younger than me. Good for him, I thought at the time.
His comments gave me the right to say what I wanted in return. I didn’t hold back, writing about the discrimination I suffered as a woman and how I had to put up with sexual harassment because “boys will be boys” back in my younger days. Nobody gave me and every member of my family a job – as happened to my friend – because of the color of my skin. But you didn’t hear my whining.
It got ugly, as you can imagine these things do. But, thankfully, my nasty words never reached my friend because my phone went dead and my lengthy text vanished into the night.
When that happened, I looked heavenward and uttered a prayer. “Thanks for not letting me be hurtful to someone I care about,” I said to the man upstairs.
I blame my friend’s outburst on several things, beginning with social media. It started on Facebook when I responded to his nasty remarks about the governor of our fair state. He’d read an article that morning about how Ron had arranged it so that rich people got all the Covid shots and black people were being neglected.
Based on local TV coverage that didn’t seem to be true. Where I live shots were dispensed at our clinic on the basis of age. Some of the wealthier people on the island still hadn’t received their shots when the clinic ran out of vaccine. They had to look elsewhere.
So, my friend bought into news reports without doing his own research. I guess I’ve never given him my “don’t believe anything you read or hear these days” lecture. I was a reporter. I know how it works and doesn’t work today.
My friend also is retired. As my mother used to say “idle hands are the devil’s playground.” Without a job to go to every morning, with its distractions and challenges, or some meaningful volunteer work it’s easy to focus on the negative.
I can also blame Covid for his comments – and Donald Trump. Because everything bad that has happened over the last year and beyond is either the fault of the pandemic or the former president. At least that is what people seem to say. And my friend hates Trump with a passion. As he does all Republicans.
I reflected on his comments and my ghost response until the wee hours of the morning, and realized that someone out there must be taking great pleasure in the way we were treating each other these days.
I have no theory as to who that is, although I remember the old saying “divide and conquer.”
Among so many, compassion seems a word of the past. Forgiveness. What’s that? And judgment? Everyone appears to have put on black robes. Open your mouth to defend someone you think has fallen victim to a vicious and unwarranted attack, and you are a hater.
Maybe we should hope for that forecasted giant electronic pulse from the sun to black out all communication for a month or so. Living without any kind of media for 30 days may be the antidote we need. When life returns to normal, perhaps we will have come to understand the importance of connectivity and tolerance. Perhaps.