People are funny. Anyone that has hung around me for more than fifteen minutes knows I like to laugh and that my sense of humor is awesomely broad, finding entertainment in so many things. But that’s not the kind of funny I’m talking about tonight.
I’m talking about how you use your voice. And not in a technical, vocal theory, Seth Rudetsky kind of way, but in the speak up for yourself and voice your opinion, first Amendment use your voice kind of way.
If you’re on social media sites a lot (which is probably applicable if you’re reading this, by nature of the beast), then you have probably noticed a swarming of posts regarding Phil Robertson, aka the Duck Commander of A&E’s Duck Dynasty. If you haven’t, or haven’t read any of the articles, here are a couple to get you going
The GQ article by Drew Magary that launched this online hornet’s off
So here’s the quick version.
Drew asked Phil a question. Phil answered and shared his opinion about homosexuality and some chatter about growing up in Louisiana. This opinion was taken as a huge kick in the pants and spit in your eye to those in support of marriage equality and pro-LGBT communities. After this article was released, A&E places Phil on “hiatus” and suspends him from the show.
There are two general posts I’ve noticed about this situation:
1. Down with Phil and the whole Duck Dynasty crew for believing in something different from what I do.
2. Hooray Phil for speaking what I believe in.
How about this, folks, when it comes to your opinion…
We’re all right in our opinions, and surprise, there will always be someone with a different view.
Yes, I agree with the principle that a man was asked his opinion and that he shared it. There’s nothing illegal about that. There isn’t anything illegal about publishing it either.
And I don’t work for A&E nor do I know what the conversation was that led to his suspension from the highly-favored show he is affiliated with. For all I know, the suits behind the show may have wanted this backlash to occur and arranged this as a stunt to really bolster viewers in support of Duck Dynasty, filtering out those that don’t share in Phil’s views. But I don’t, so I kick back and watch so many people flail about the online pool of bullshit.
Here’s where the crowds wake up, which leads me to my view of how people are funny.
Social media posts are a great substitute for current event news shows. Whenever someone dies, a major event happens, someone farts in church, anything. I can gauge how grand something is by the variety of people that post about it. When Nelson Mandela died? A few posts here and there. But Obama’s Selfie-gate? That turned into as big a deal as him getting re-elected. Paul Walker’s death. Everywhere. Billie Jean King going to Sochi. (High five if you didn’t have to Google that, or Billie Jean King.) Barely anything.
People like to sound off when it’s something people are talking about, and it’s usually something that doesn’t affect them directly, but they have an opinion about.
Shocker. You can have an opinion about something. Tell me what you had for lunch, I’ll have an opinion about it and tell you a story about why that pisses me off.
And I get it. I really do. It’s easy to share an opinion when it’s about something that doesn’t directly affect you, reflect on you, or make an actual difference in your own life. Because if you do share something about how feel and you offend someone or ruffle their feathers, then, oh snap, you’re getting ignored, blocked, defriended, or worse, not paid attention to.
What about the last time you ordered food at a restaurant and your order was wrong and you didn’t say anything because you “didn’t want to be that customer” or “cause any trouble.” Or the time that awkward co-worker keeps ogling you or making obscene comments about your sister, wife, or daughter. Or what about any other situation like bullying, harassment, or using words like “gay” or “retarded” in a derogatory manner. Did you speak up then?
Probably not. And I’ll be the first to tell you that I’ve been guilty of this too. But I’ll tell you what…in the last two years, I’ve made a conscious effort to say something when someone says something is “gay” or refers to something as “retarded.”
Because that can actually help. That’s using my voice to make me world around me a little better.
Complaining about what someone else did, or defending them when they don’t know you from Adam just feels like waste of time. And maybe I’m wasting my own time, telling you that it’s a waste of time. And so what if it’s ironic that I’m sharing my own opinion?
I guess what I’m really trying to say is, relax. Take some of that energy you have, some of that pomp in your step, and some of that fire in your pocket and refocus it. Try thanking people for things that you make take for granted. Try helping someone out. Try asking someone how they’re doing and actually hang around long enough for them to tell you.
I don’t agree with Phil’s point of view, but I’m not mad at him for sharing it. He was asked. But I look at him like any other celebrity. Yeah, he’s a public figure and people enjoy him and his family for entertainment, and yeah he’s supposed to be aware of what he says, and I’m sure he is. But is what he says or does paying your bills or raising your kids? (well maybe it is the latter if your tv is raising your kids, but that’s a different story.) Is the private life of an athlete really going to make you stop rooting for your team? Or is the social life of an actor or actress really going to make you enjoy their beautiful performance any less?
Because if it is, then you should probably take a vacation. By yourself. For a while.
I believe in marriage equality, human rights, civil rights, and the pursuit of happYness.
I acknowledge that there are still racial inequalities and that makes me sad.
I hope to see the day where there is no more salary disparity between women and men.
Guns don’t kill people, people kill people, and no amount of regulations, background checks, waiting periods, or anything will keep a criminal from committing a crime.
Regulations don’t keep people from taking drugs. Education and experience does.
Music doesn’t make people commit suicide, shoot up schools, movie theatres, or cause riots. Whether it’s rap, rock, opera, or classical, it doesn’t matter. Music tells stories, invokes action, and amplifies your soul.
The act of going to a church doesn’t make you a better person. And neither does not going. You make yourself a better person.
Will there always be people I disagree with? Yes. And some of those people are some of the coolest I may ever meet, but I’ll tell you this, at least they know what they stand for, whether it’s what I stand for or not. And as long as they listen more than they preach, I’ll sit and chew the fat with you.
So preach on, Phil Robertson. Speak your mind. I do, but I don’t have the millions to be famous enough for anyone else to care. This may not be read by even twenty people. But I said it. And I’ll say it again.
I’m sorry you feel that way, because the world is changing for the better whether you like it or not.
But who am I to you? No one. I’m just some Asian kid from the bay area livin in the heartland of America, and guess what? That’s totally cool, because you have your opinion and I have mine, and I can respect that.
I just wish people would use their voices more powerfully. To do something that’ll actually make a difference, and not just spend it on topics that won’t change anyone’s life.
Love yourself. Speak with honesty and conviction. Worry about the safety of your family and don’t think you’re above anyone. Your marriage won’t hurt mine. My owning a gun won’t have anything to do with your grandchildren. My vote in the booth is for my children. And don’t think my appreciation for country music is an attempt to blend in with the crowd. I’ll bump some Tupac too, but don’t be afraid, I won’t cut you.