Friday, May 14, 2021

Talking with the Other: Part 2

When talking with a friend once about what we would have been if we hadn’t been called my music teaching, I came up with “lawyer.” Because the way my mind works, I am constantly collecting evidence to win a case and considering how to present it. This drives some people crazy— and sometimes drives me crazy—but has been a necessary element in clarifying my thinking. And when that thinking is married to caring about the betterment of the world and speaking on behalf of the voiceless (included the unvoiced parts of ourselves), it is a positive attribute. 


I confessed last time about my impulse to try to win an argument with the guy who denies white privilege and how I finally had the good sense to drop off that merry-go-round. And then he wrote this on my Facebook page.


White privilege is not a thing. It has been disproved by greater minds than both you and I. Perhaps do some research. In closing, it has always annoyed me that you use your platform, whether it be during a class or a workshop or on social media, to force your uninformed political opinion onto your various subjects. What really annoys me is that is has no place there and the fact that you use it to place yourself on some moral high ground and anyone who dares to disagree must do some soul searching is really unbecoming.


Well, that ruined my day. I immediately crafted twenty different responses, from sarcastic (“Oh, now I see! All that pesky slavery, apartheid, lynchings, police killings, mass incarceration, was not really “a thing.” I’m so pleased to know that it has been scientifically disproved and thank those greater minds for setting me straight. By the way, were those white minds? Just curious.) to serious (the list of all the reading I’ve done, documentaries I’ve watched, people I’ve talked to), but in the end, the most sound advice came from another Orff colleague: “Don’t waste your time talking to idiots.”


But I have one more thought and that is to ask the guy to tell me his life story. Try to find out what happened to someone that he would believe the things he does. It reminded me of a powerful story that I once read. The details elude me, but it went something like this: 


A kid murdered another kid and got a light sentence and before he was sent off to prison, the mother of the victim wrote to him and said, “I’m going to kill you.” When the murderer got out, he had nowhere to go and a woman took him in and cared for him and got him back on his feet. There grew a great love between them, so when some time later, he discovered that the woman was the mother who of the kid he had killed, he was both shocked and confused. When he asked her why she did it, she said, “Remember I said I was going to kill you? Well, I did. I killed the part of you that was vicious and scared and confused and brought to life your more loving self. That was the only thing I could do to help heal my own grief and sorrow. To kill you with kindness.”


So it would be interesting to find out what happened to this music teacher that made him so vulnerable to being manipulated, so indifferent, so callous. To sincerely listen to his life story and help him pick through the parts that made him shut down his intelligence and caring. (And no, I won’t apologize for being on moral high ground here or arrogant. Anyone who can say what he has said is just simply deluded, no ifs, ands, or buts.) That would be a big commitment and would probably take a love and caring for this particular person that frankly I don’t have. But could grow to have with enough effort. 


In the end, I’m sure I’ll take my other Orff friend’s advice and direct all my energy toward planning the surprise live singing time I’m about to do with my granddaughter’s 3rdgrade. Of course, gleefully forcing my uninformed political opinions on them with every joyful note. 



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