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One Small Voice: Difference between protest, disrespect?

Something weird has been happening inside my head of late. Breaking through my thoughts of anger and frustration at current events (our administration in Washington and the shooting in Las Vegas, being two) are some disquieting thoughts of self-criticism and forced introspection.

To be specific, three weeks ago I was listening to President Donald Trump on the TV talking about North Korea when he first referred to Kim Jong-un as “Rocket Man.” As I am prone to do, I yelled at the television “CAN YOU HEAR YOURSELF?” Meaning, of course, the president. How in the world could President Trump expect to get anywhere with this world leader by disrespecting him with a flippant, denigrating nickname?

What was different this time yelling at the TV was that the words of Ranger Rick came starkly back in answer at me. Donald Trump is the president, OUR president, and by virtue of the office he should be referred to as such. Just as I expect our president to address the North Korean president by his name rather than a derogatory nickname. In order to not be a hypocrite I ought to change my ways. Since then, my personal feelings about the man notwithstanding, I have referred to Donald Trump as President Trump, and I have left the insults to the late night comics. 

Day before yesterday I was reading a Facebook thread regarding the never-ending issue of NFL protests. This thread dealt with Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to an Indianapolis Colts game. I commented on Facebook, to people I don’t know, that Mr. Pence’s criticism of taking a knee, or failing to rise for the national anthem, proved he didn’t know the difference between protest and disrespect. A stranger replied almost instantly to me that, no, it was Lynn Mandaville who didn’t know the difference.

Because his comment was simple, straightforward and without malice, I didn’t disregard it out of hand, as I usually would. I found myself mulling it over throughout the rest of the day, as well as during sleepless moments overnight. In the morning I consulted the dictionary. By contemplating definitions I came to the conclusion that protest can, and often does, indeed, show disrespect. The two terms are not mutually exclusive.

Therefore, in the minds and hearts of many Americans, what NFL players are doing is a form of disrespect. It is still an expression of First Amendment rights, but it does offend the sensibilities of many people. The stranger was correct. I didn’t know the difference. I do now.

I can only describe the feeling of what has been happening in my brain as similar to lancing a boil.  Emotional pressure has been being relieved for me. The mental poisons have been draining out and a healing has begun. I still have strong feelings about what is happening in our country, but the intense anger and overwhelming frustration has lessened. I can think more clearly without the fire of emotion clouding my vision and my reactions.  I hope that will translate into more civil discourse coming from me.

There are other “hot spots” in me that are sure to want to come to a head. My hope is that whatever has caused my brain to listen more carefully will not leave me. I prefer the quietude of a mind that doesn’t try to function through the fog of unchecked emotion.

2 Comments

  • Another thought provoking article. I have had similar thoughts myself. I have posted on Facebook that I will no longer post anything political. This includes replies to other people’s post. I said I was just tired of the mess. I haven’t changed my stance on most of the issues. I try to see both sides.
    What I am really worried about now is why I feel this way. Hopefully, I (and the American people) are not just being worn down by the constant barrage of crap coming from our politicians.
    It bothers me that all the petty things are taking up so much space. Vice President Pence is sent to a football game at taxpayers expense knowing full well he is going to walk out of the game. When you consider all the other calamities going on in our nation (i.e. fires, hurricanes, flooding, Puerto Rico, gun violence, homelessness and others) it seems very childlike and spiteful with no benefit to the Americans as a country.

  • “The trouble with the world is that stupid are cocksure
    And the intelligent are full of doubt.” Bertrand Russell
    I think perhaps you’re being a little overly self-critical in this excellent piece. As you report, protests can be disrespectful, but are not necessarily so. When Rosa Parks wouldn’t go to the back of the bus, was she being disrespectful in her protest? I don’t think she was, although it could be argued, I suppose, that she was being disrespectful to the segregation laws in place at the time. I don’t think anyone would say that she didn’t conduct her protest in a quiet, dignified, civil manner. You are correct in saying the two terms – protest and disrespect – are not mutually exclusive.

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