I Didn’t Need Your Permission

Too many people today do nothing but wait. They wait for opinions, instructions, permission. Doing nothing is the irresponsible choice, but it is still a choice. Following blindly is the worst choice. I respect anyone who acts from their own convictions even when I disagree.  I follow this paraphrase from the Wiccan Rede and expect them to do the same:  And it harm none, do as you will.

A part of me blames the current political and social problems on laziness and celebrity culture. People have short attention spans and having real role models has been replaced by following social media and lifestyle icons.  I am as guilty as any follower of pop culture with easy digital access.  Despite this, when a new perspective is presented, I re-evaluate.  For example, I read a recent post by a 20-something who’d just watched John Travolta in Saturday Night Live and was appalled.  I remember feeling uncomfortable during parts of the movie, but quickly sloughing that off.  (I was still in school.)  Her critique reminded me.  The overall attitudes of the main characters and especially the scene where John Travolta sits in the passenger seat while his friends rape his girlfriend in the backseat really are appalling and the story could not be filmed today as filmed then.

Being a woman in a mostly masculine world (wife of an enlisted Army soldier and woman in tech), I am perhaps more sensitive to discrimination and bias that the average person my age.  In addition, I’ve always been something of an outside observer.  Carried to extremes, this led me to dangerous places, including being able to replay each day of 7th grade once I returned home as though it’d happened to someone else. 

On the bright side, this meant I noticed things.  Driving home from Atlanta to Augusta one Saturday, we stopped at a mall to grab something to eat.  My husband hurried me through the process and I began to feel uneasy.  Looking around, I realized we were two of the few white people in the mall and that the others were mainly store clerks.  Returning to the car, I suggested that this might be a little like black people felt nearly all the time.  My husband only reluctantly agreed.  I began to pay more attention in public places and social gatherings … not just to skin color but also other differences.  I’m sure I missed and still miss many instances of bias, but I also catch many more than I would without that incident in the mall and others that followed.  The harder action is to say or do something to derail them when I do.

I started out as a shy and easily hurt child.  As I grew, I put up walls and developed self-protective behaviors. I disliked conflict and confrontation.  I was careful and I lived in a world with pretty concrete guidelines.  On the other hand, I hate unfairness and injustice.  That began to matter more and more and I began to develop social and conversational skills deliberately.  I can honestly say that facts and actions matter to me much more than alliances and spin.  My viewpoints are as credible as anyone else’s and much more credible than may of them I hear today.  I don’t need approval or permission for any of them, but I am willing to hear any reasoned argument.  I only wish others held that same standard.