Conscientious Objector

co-postcardThis week, someone was wrong on the Internet.

I know. Shocking. I do this sort of masochistic thing where I periodically go look at the comments on the Facebook page of a woman I know who is about as far from my political point of view as you can get. While everyone on MY Facebook page was talking about the uplifting feeling of exercising their right to protest, of standing up for the underdog, everyone THERE was talking about the stupid, ignorant, baby killing, Madonna-loving marchers. Everyone THERE was talking about how evil and wrong and stupid and unattractive all of my people are.

It’s hard not to react. Oh yeah!?? Well, so’s your mom!

Poor little Barron Trump, mocked on the Internet.  There is railing against cruel and evil progressives, asking what the Left would have done if anyone on the Right said that kind of crap about the Obama girls. Others answer that people DID, in fact, say crap about the Obama girls. It’s true. They did. And it was met with railing against about cruel and evil conservatives.

The words are different but the tune is the same. And I must admit that it’s a song that gets on my nerves. This is how it goes:

THEY started it. WE had no choice. THEY did worse. WE are only doing it because they did it first.

So familiar: She pushed me! It’s not my fault, he LOOKED AT ME. HE WAS ANNOYING ME.

The fact that we didn’t INVENT meanness does not mean we are excused from the imperative to avoid meanness. The truth that someone else, somewhere, has been cruel before me doesn’t mean I can get some cruel shots in for free.

I disagree with certain political points of view because I think there are better ways to reduce inequality, or because I prioritize military spending differently, or I make different tradeoffs between personal safety and personal freedom. But my resistance to Donald Trump is not political disagreement. It is OBJECTION.  I object to shameless misogyny. I object to flagrant, opportunistic lying. I object to moral vacancy. I object to meanness, to cruelty, to reckless, risky, aggressive egotism.

I will not excuse nor cheapen those wrongs by categorizing them as differences of political opinion.

It means that I will not say that Pence is just as bad, maybe worse. He is not. I disagree with him, and in some cases I disagree vehemently. But that is not just as bad as an unrepentant self-centered moral vacuum.

And that means that I will try to object whenever and wherever I witness these wrongs.  That means that in addition to saying that I witnessed a gendered response to Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, I must also say that I witnessed a gendered response to Betsy DeVos’s Senate hearings.

It means that when those people are wrong on the Internet, I will work at not jumping in and explaining why I am not a stupid, ignorant, baby-killing, Madonna-loving marcher.

Instead, maybe I will be a conscientious objector and just sit out the exhausting cycles of eye-for-an-eye cruelty. I’ll be over here with the rest of the conscientious objectors trying to have compassion for those who are suffering from injustice and for those perpetrating the injustice. Trying, and failing, and trying again.




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