Southeast of Disorder


Making dynamite
November 4, 2008, 11:42 am
Filed under: Politics, religion | Tags: , ,

It has been said that religion and politics are two topics people should not discuss in mixed company. Both are polarizing subjects: Few people can agree to disagree about something so personal and self-affirming, so there’s huge potential for vicious, recriminatory arguments to erupt.

Like the one I got into yesterday.

I make no excuses for my behavior, and I probably should apologize for getting involved in the first place, but in my defense I have to say I didn’t mix the explosive ingredients. I just lit the fuse.

This election, more than any other I can remember, has distressed me. Now that it’s almost over, I feel emotionally drained. I’m beyond tired of the endless backbiting and mudslinging. I’ve become exhausted by the sleazy innuendo. If I could, I would slap upside the head both presidential candidates, both vice-presidential candidates and most other candidates, and I’d tell them all to get a grip. “It’s the negative campaigning, stupid!” I’d be tempted to yell mid-slap.

(By the way, what is it that makes political candidates believe lying or truth-stretching during a campaign indicates trustworthiness?)

One of the things I find most frstrating about modern campaigns is the number of people who seem much too willing to cast aspersions on those who don’t share their religious convictions. The amount of religiously motivated campaign literature to which I’ve been subjected in the past few months is mind-boggling. I probably should ignore it, but I’m intensely curious about why people behave as they do, so usually I read the material and then engage in a “hm” moment, a “huh?” moment, a “you idiot” moment or a brief bout of hysterical laughter before I go on about my business.

Yesterday was different, though, and I haven’t been able to define why. Perhaps I lost my own grip because the religio-political message came through at an early, not-yet-fully-caffeinated hour. Perhaps my fed-up gene was working overtime that day. Whatever caused the unfortunate series of events, it began when a member of a Yahoo! hobby group to which I belong forwarded a religious message about voting.

I stared at the message in disbelief for a good long while before taking action, distraught to realize the last bastion of politics- and religion-free space to which I could retreat had been breached.

I responded with “[Our beloved hobby] is apolitical. It has no cultural, social, religious or political agendas. Please, let’s keep it that way.”

The other member apologized and explained she accidentally had forwarded the message to the wrong group. The mistake was understandable and all was forgiven, at least on my end. We’ve all been in that uncomfortable position, after all.

Unfortunately, while the message misdirector was composing her apology, other members who, like me, were offended by the original post also were composing their own messages about the religious voting screed’s inappropriateness. All of them crossed in cyberspace, resulting in a veritable puddle of terse-but-polite condemnation of the original poster’s unfortunate mistake.

That offended her, and she resigned from the group in a huff.

I felt badly, not least because although I read almost every message delivered to the group, I don’t often post. My first post in months resulted in a skirmish, illustrating why it’s usually best for me to eschew posting. Much like Typoid Mary spread the dreaded disease everywhere she went, I seem to precipitate ruckuses without even trying.

It’s a gift.