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To Whom this May Concern

Bad things can happen when we take shortcuts to judgement. I am reminded of one of my favourite films, Match Point, where a young former tennis pro marries into a wealthy upper class family after carefully playing to their assumptions. I recommend the film to anyone who wants to understand how fixed, ready processed ideas can leave us vulnerable to manipulation. Skyfall‘s villain, played by Javier Bardem, tricked MI6 into handing him their entire database. The ploy was convincing because he was difficult to capture and lives were sacrificed to protect his identity.

A person can deliberately take offence to what was said in order to create dissonance and use the heavy mist of emotions to avoid speaking in truth about the real issues in question. Dramatic cosplays may backfire if the other person is wise to that strategy. Let me explain why that stuff does not work on me. First, consider three non fiction essays I’ve published here: One called GOYA; another about how to act SMART and most recently, one called Bread. Second, notice that in practice, they work in harmony, like this.

I happened on a poem from a writer, in which he identified himself as “racist.” I didn’t accept that he was one. That was me giving someone the benefit of the doubt. Even so, I was stung that he wrote how if a dark skinned male passes by his open garage door, he feels that the person will jump him. I have dark skin, so I felt unfairly judged.

This is how I reacted.

I asked him if the feelings were real. He said, yes. Then, we had a short discussion about the differences between the privileges afforded by his superficial identifying features and the privileges I’ve enjoyed after working hard to earn them outside of my comfort and safety zones. I said something like, I have learned to take control over my environment as a result of not having everything handed to me. I also let him know that even if we don’t have the same ideas, we can be decent to each other. I extended my best wishes and invited him to delete my comments if he found my presence on his blog disconcerting.

His response may surprise you. He thanked me for my comment and said, “I need more dark skinned friends” after inviting me to read and comment on his blog. I accepted his invitation and found out that we both enjoy fine wine. This discovery warmed me and so did his recommendation for a place to sample some delicious wines on my next trip to the United States.

The reason I’m posting this commentary here is to say this. Welcome to my universe. In it, I can make the choice to not jump down someone’s throat, be offensive, unkind and disparaging just to be confrontational just because something seems provocative. On this occasion, I may have met a fascinating person. I still feel some tension but I am willing to give this a try.

To whom this may concern,

When I am aware of an assumption of mine, I test it by asking the other person to present their side. A stranger, who does not know me and could have tossed out my opinion, chose instead to engage in conversation on a sensitive matter.

We could have torn each other to shreds with words. We chose not to do that.

Why not you?

Warmest regards,
Sabiscuit

By ΠιCΘLΣ

Life is short, so let’s be decent.

63 replies on “To Whom this May Concern”

Wonderful, Sabisicuit, and thoughtful! I have to agree that jumping to conclusions without first engaging the person to find out more is a downfall of many people. I’m at fault with this, too, but I really do try to understand more before coming to my opinion of them.

This post and your Honesty post resonates with me. We just had a meeting last night that just about everyone was dreading…it was about voting in a new president of our little 24 unit organization. The current president’s wife was a bully and out of control but I really tried hard to get to know them in the past year’s activities and it became increasingly obvious that they were not honest or very kind as they had initially made us believe. It was very tense but we got through it. Honesty is so very important and trying to understand others before jumping to conclusions is equally important. ((HUGS)) Have a great day!

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Thank you very much, Barbara. I’m very happy to have your comment here. I admire your patience with the couple you had to encounter. Believe me, I understand that so well, giving people the benefit of the doubt and realising that they were not trustworthy. Of course, wolves know how to package themselves attractively and that is why we always end up in thrall to them, at least, at first.

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Oh, that is so true…they were all peaches and cream in the beginning. It is important to be decent to people even if you disagree as we are all human beings but I will not be bullied or railroaded into something. We are all adults and must act accordingly…which was not the case with the president’s wife last night, haha, almost comical. Oh, well, lots of different people in the world. 🙂

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I know. I’m glad to hear that you believe in standing up for what you believe in. I agree, too, that it’s important to be decent to people. I hope the rest of the year goes without anything too dramatic. (HUGS) x SB

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I am absolutely delighted to have found your blog. You are very thorough and tasteful with your words. I am pleased to have read this and found a kindred spirit, one of which that doesn’t impulsively reply to something you take offense to. You seem quite the level-headed one, I shall keep your blog within my watch and hopefully, gain new and inspiring insights, and learn from someone like you.

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Thank you so much for your support. I felt that this was something to share because of a few recent “battles.” I’ll keep an eye on your blog, too. I’ve already added it to my reading list. x

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It is only right to do so, especially in a place where we are given the chance to think about what we wish to say before we share our opinions. You will have my full support.

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Thanks so much for your support. I am happy to have you whenever you are ready and of course ole say hi whenever you drop in. Have a great Sunday.

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I want to overcome but I wonder what difference it makes. Don’t you just hate when there is no solution to the problem and when one thing is fixed the other one comes up? Of course you do. I don’t know how you do it, GH. Staying positive…

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Yes there are no solutions to what we have. But the heavenly spirits gave us a life. We have families and friends though our boyfriends may be toads really 😉
Staying positive is my way of fighting. My head is exploding as I blog. But that is my cross to bear. Meanwhile blog, laugh and hug my inanimate furball. I am grateful for your encouragement most times and I encourage you to do so too ☺
Take a deep breath. Think positive and know you are loved
Garfield Hugs 💕💕

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SB..it certainly takes a great amount of maturity and sense to make comments on a post that may be indirectly an attack on you or your fellowmates……its great tgat the guy was mature too to comment back the right words…like totally….i am sure he isnt a racist..hust a man bound by a few prejudices..love u bae..❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

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Thanks Nidhi. This situation was striking tome because we have never met or spoken to each other before. I wanted to point out that it’s a matter of choice and definitely maturity.

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Thanks for that. It’s hard to decide when it feels personal. I’ve been on the opposite side of this. Someone not believing in me and grandstanding on principle to distract me after I found out that that person had none. x

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Thanks so much IP. Only we can stop the cycle of hate and mistrust. I’m grateful for that challenging situation because I had an opportunity to practice what I preach. x

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In many cases, others just need more information to make them understand that it’s wrong to quickly generalize the characters of people based on stereotypes and their ethnicity. The brainwashing of the media in general have done a great number of damages more than many people realized. That’s why others constantly make foolish assumptions based from what they know.

In Hong Kong, many people, especially teenagers, view people from mainland China with contempt and derision. This is very sad since most of their grandparents and great grandparents were probably from China as well.

Anyway, I’m glad that he’s still open-minded enough and making an effort to drop his prejudice.

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Thanks for that. I was amazed at how calmly he responded to me. I’ve read bloggers lament that that they’re from rich industrialised countries and they’re so privileged to be white and how said it is for “not like them” others. I usually ask if they’re okay. I mean, is being rich, white and raised in an industrialised country an argument? Is it a free pass to not make sense? A grade nine education should give some of these people the ability to present a coherent argument and yet, the rich opportunities that their supposedly superior education systems have afforded them, have failed to stick.

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I don’t respect people based on their level of education. I know several people who have a good education but their manners are very awful. I also expect people who have “superior” education to be more open-minded and not judge others based on fallacious arguments.

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Thank you, and I should have said their “purported level of formal education”. Because we all know that it matters not how long people sat in a classroom if they don’t learn to behave better than wild beasts.

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Anyone could, but where would be the fun in that? Trolls exist because it’s so much easier to bully over the internet where no one can catch you by the scruff of the neck and shake the everloving shit out of you. It’s easy to stay within your preconceptions rather than challenge them. And when you’re faced with a glass screen and not someone’s face, it’s easier to deny the other’s humanity.
The sad thing is that even so -called open minded preconceptions are easy to get habituated to, if only more people knew and tried to.

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Thank you so much. Trolls (or wannabe pundits) are just a tiny part of the problem. I’m particularly concerned with the people who are in my orbit, who have information to the counteract any negative judgement and should therefore know better but don’t do better. It’s called being a pigheaded narcissist. Although I love pigs and shouldn’t use them to describe the stubborn refusal to pay attention and listen, while expecting to be treated with respect and consideration, I feel that in this case, it is a necessary shortcut.

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I always find it funny every time those trolls “threaten” me. I bet that they won’t be able to say many of the BS that they said to me online in my face. Those bedroom warriors are not worth my time since my time is very worthwhile, while they have too much surplus of time in their hands…

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It does leave a bad taste in the mouth. Trolls act like pigheaded narcissists because the expression of negative sentiments gives them a sense of superiority when in fact, they feel they are completely worthless. I’ll try to remember that. A friend told me a long time ago to have a zero tolerance policy for the baiting, gaslighting and crazy making behaviours of others. I have taken that advice. What’s even more bizarre is how people think they’re opposing you when they’re just rephrasing what you’re saying and agreeing with everything. Pointing out the futility of getting fired up when we are on the same page, usually stops the misguided in their tracks. Thanks again for your support. x

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I can’t really say that I understand the feeling of the people who are affected very much by cyberbullying since I myself am not affected at all by it, well, even real life trolls don’t affect me that much, so, how the heck those keyboard crusaders can compete anyway? 🙂

However, I personally know someone who became very depressed because of these online cyberbullies. That’s when I know that those trolls have crossed the line. It’s one thing to mock and ridicule people on the net, but if their insults and threats have affected others and made them suffer, then I think that those cyberbullies should be held accountable for it. “Freedom of speech and expression” has its limit after all.

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It affects people with depression or other mental diseases more than “normals”, and I speak from experience. There are those who aren’t strong enough emotionally and take a lot to heart. Most of the reported cases I’ve seen are of teenagers, though I don’t claim that as a factual deduction. Freedom of speech proponents say that free speech means that you do not have the right not to be affronted. Where the line is to be drawn is a prickly issue at best, though clearly there needs to be some consensus on this.

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I know what you mean. It’s usually the distance and obscured identity that gives wannabe pundits the sense of purpose and importance that they don’t have in real life.

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This was a truly beautiful sentiment. I abhor it when people get angry about me expressing misconceptions that I sincerely want to change.

While I do not consider myself at all racist- I do have some intolerances about people who are still living under oppression- I have too often expressed feelings of disbelief- and made insensitive judgements- like, if they don’t want to be treated like a thug, don’t act like a thug. I had the good fortune to have someone sit down with me and explain what it is really like to grow up in a different environment than my small west Texas town. Here, there is no fear of the police- most of them are good people. There is not the assumption that a white woman cannot walk alone down the street.
I welcome the chance to gain a greater understanding, and I hope others want to learn about my perspective. (Deliriously exhausted after boxing, hope that is coherent.)

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I am happy boxing went well. Thank you for weighing in here. I think the point I was making was that I tend to get defensive when people lump every person of colour under the “people who are generally oppressed, etc. etc.” category without accounting for factors like ethnicity, background, education and lifestyle. Again, shortcuts to judgement. The easy way out at first, but the battles that ensue are hard fought. I hope that people will bear this and the other essays I mentioned in mind when your essay is published tomorrow. x

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I am trying to understand- (only because it is so easy for me to get lost, and I sincerely want to understand.)
Are you more concerned with your defensiveness? Or by the tendency of people to “lump every person…” into the same category? Is it because you do not feel oppressed?
If so, I understand that. Or, I think I do. I used to be very openly bitter and judgmental about feminists. I did not feel like an oppressed person, and therefor I found their platform silly and unnecessary. I still do not feel like a feminist- however, I want people to stop oppressing everyone..
I feel like you are saying something important, and part of me wants to assume that I understand, but I am afraid that I am missing the point.

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I think you got it right. I’m concerned with people lumping everyone into a category. That is often why I feel defensive. I feel that my defensiveness is an issue, but it wouldn’t be there if I didn’t have to deal with being lumped into categories. Thank you.

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Such an insightful, real blog. I feel like you were both mindful, he of his racism, you of your tendency to feel unfairly judged. And because you were both mindful of your own shortcomings, or….maybe that’s the wrong word…but because you recognized that what you felt might not be the truth…you investigated and actually, to the outsider here, made a friend. Oh that the rest of the world would follow your example! Beautiful!

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Thank you so much for your support. You are right, I also have shortcomings. That is why I make sure not to hammer others about theirs without first making sure that I’ve taken a close look at mine. It’s hard to do, but with practice, it becomes second nature. Why be mean when we can be nice, though? And isn’t that why this thing keeps spiralling out of control? The urgency to react with negative emotions keeps us on a lower plane of existence. I wish you many warm and pleasant encounters. x

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Dear SaBisquick’s Catalogue, I read with earnest empathies your spectacular defense. Will you please be my freund? I need more dark skinned freunds more than the other people, because I am not dark enough. Did you take your melanin? It will help you sleep. If you need me, I’ll be hiding. Sincerely, The Raven, Evermore.

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You’re delicious and creamy silk, Evermore the Raven. Also, if only Bisquick didn’t have wheat in it, I’m sure it would help me sleep. Am also working on the melanin intake. It’s called sunning. x

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