There are so many issues I am passionate about that it's difficult to know where to channel my energies. Right now, I'm taking action on Eating Disorder education with my work as a parent mentor for the UCSD Eating Disorder Clinic--a time commitment of one Saturday a month--and keeping abreast of research in the field.
One thing I've always done (though I'm aware it's basically tilting at windmills) is writing letters to the editor of our local right-wing rag newspaper. (This is actually a whole 'nother story as I hate subscribing because I can't stand that I'm putting money in the publisher's pocket, but I need my local news and I use the business section to teach about our local bio-tech industry.)
I was struck the other day about how many of the letters are from people who consider their experiences to be the be-all and end-all of how something can go. They erroneously extrapolate what they have learned/lived/seen as being how things must always be. This shocking lack of empathy and refusal to be conscious of the many different paths there are to walk in life is really bumming me out.
One letter discussing Bob Filner and the victims of his sexual harassment (I'm not saying alleged. I actually spent half an hour in a room with him after the scandal broke and I have no doubt he did what he's accused of) advised women that "a swift knee to the groin, a blood curdling scream, fingers/nails to the eyes and/or face or a stomp on an instep" should be the first reaction of a woman being harassed. Those that don't do that are simply playing, "poor me."
Putting aside the shock most of us feel when another person treats us inappropriately--possibly rendering us unable to act--this is about the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Yes, I'm sure HR will take you super seriously if you react like that. And who cares if the rest of the office will considers you to be loony tunes? You need your job to feed your kids, pay your mortgage, etc. and are worried your boss will fire you? I get it, you're just a "poor me" card player.
In the same paper was a letter from someone who said San Diego Unified School District is doing just great. No improvements needed. The basis for that opinion? His daughter got into an Ivy League school. Well then, if it happened to you, it must be the way it is for everyone.
My dear sister-in-law is skeptical of any claims of racism becase when she was working as a deputy in a jail she treated all prisoners the way the way they treated her--regardless of the color of their skin. I think she is probably correct. Still, are we now supposed to disregard all stories of racism by law enforcement because that was the way she operated?
I think not.
I'm not sure if people always did this and I never noticed it or it's just on my radar more of late.
Either way, we're not going to make any progress on any issues at all if we're going to approach life as though our personal experiences are the only ones that are valid.
Below is the last letter I had published in the paper--as I said, tilting at windills, but sometimes you just have to say something.
Mr. Lemon (“Zimmerman case was not about racism,” Letters July 26) can be as emphatic as he likes in proclaiming that the Zimmerman case was not about racism, but my viewpoint, as an honest American, is the polar opposite of his.
Americans are conditioned to be fearful of black men by a variety of media, systemic racism in the educational system is part of the reason no black professionals were involved in the prosecution of the case, and our justice system applies different standards to the arrest and prosecution of whites vs. people of color.
Ample evidence exists to support the above statements. No matter your viewpoint on racism, I am sure we can all agree that the bottom line is that if George Zimmerman had not followed Trayvon Martin, per the police dispatcher’s instructions to desist, we would not be having this conversation, and a teenage boy would still be alive.