It can be easy to put everyone outside of ourselves into boxes to judge and deal with accordingly. For me, before racial and religious divides, before political lines are drawn, before social status sets us apart, the biggest two boxes that I place people in to understand them before all others, are those who complain about their food and those that don’t. I’m a cook, so that’s how I see the world. If someone is willing to complain about their food, that creates an instant judgment call in my mind that they are rarely able to recover from.
It’s an entitlement thing. Some people feel like you are working for them and so have the right to complain to you about the food not creating the exact sensation that will bring pleasure to their tongue. Others are happy to have someone cooking for them and would never imagine complaining simply because it was somehow not perfect enough.
The Brett Kavanaugh hearings lay bare before us two major boxes, that of the “entitled” and of the “making do.” If you weren’t sure what white male privilege looked like before, you do now. The woman, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, recognized where her story didn’t add up, and took her punches gracefully. Those that are used to taking punches in life know how to handle it instinctually. He, on the other hand, having spent his lifetime in the halls of power, was fighting for the perfect image of the life he would have you believe was his birthright. This was his moment and we were ripping it from him. It is when we are under fire that our true colors shine. When Judge Kavanaugh was raging on the Democrats and the “left conspiracy” that was out to get him, it made me wonder how he could ever be an impartial, unbiased judge. I don’t blame him for fighting for his life. The woman’s innocence was stripped from her long ago, when she was still just a child. It looked as if this man’s innocence was only now being taken.
The woman came as a matter of civic responsibility. She was sharing her truth because she felt it was the right thing to do. The man was fighting for his and his family’s future. When you see the power that you’ve worked your whole life to attain start to slip away, just because you didn’t realize how much of a dick you actually were, then you fight back; we are survival creatures. The integrity of the court is suddenly not as important when the telling of a lie is to save yourself and your loved ones. Does lying under oath disqualify him for the Supreme Court? Of course, it does. He sold his integrity for his pride. The Republican senators, on the other hand, were selling their own integrity quite cheaply.
In most cases the lines between right and wrong are fairly clear to us all. We all want to appear to do the right thing, but only so far as it doesn’t get in the way of our own self-interest. As soon as sexual assault was brought up, everyone involved in the Kavanaugh hearing was quick to say, “Let’s hear her out.” But most of Kavanaugh’s supporters only wanted to hear her out so far as hearing her didn’t get in the way of an eventual confirmation. Jeff Flake knew that at a minimum, they couldn’t just wave him through, and ended up calling for an FBI investigation. But it took a coming-to-God moment for him to actually call for it. If he thinks simply calling for it is enough, he is mistaken. Sometimes we just do the minimum amount of right thing so that we can pretend we are going beyond our self-interest, not caring that it is clear to everyone when we are falling back into politics. Real heroes go all the way. The White House knew they had to support the investigation, but it took being called out publicly for trying to obstruct the integrity of that investigation to ease up on the reins of it. Knowing what the right thing to do is not hard. Actually doing the right thing when it gets in the way of what we want is harder.
The funny thing about American politics becoming so extreme and polarized, where the sides are not able to compromise or even talk, is that the Democratic Party is finally starting to represent my own values. Both parties, for my lifetime, have been simply business parties, representing corporate interests. The main difference had been that at least the Democrats were willing to say they were for some liberal ideals. Now we are getting real liberals to fight the good fight. Now women and minorities are moving at greater numbers to the ballot. Yes, I am saddened by the lack of civility among “public servants” (quotation marks meant to represent extreme sarcasm) but I am more saddened by heroes such as Thurgood Marshall being replaced by an affirmative action denouncing Clarence Thomas, who got his seat because of affirmative action or because it had become the “black seat” on the court. I am more saddened by the fact that we were railroaded out of getting another seat on the court because politicians decided to deny Obama his constitutional right to appoint one. At least they should have voted on his candidate rather than belligerently showing that they cared nothing about the laws that we are governed by. That flouting of convention is just another brick in the road of valueless politics we now find ourselves riding on. It is funny how the Republicans are saying that this is the most disgraceful process that they’ve ever seen a nominee go through as if somehow by repeating the talking point will make you forget the name of Merrick Garland.
No one is entitled to anything in this world. The winds of fate are turbulent and we all have to be ready for our own moment of being slammed to the ground. Some of us are used to getting back up, because that is what the world has blessed us with. Others have had an easier path. But we all have to be ready. When the storm comes our way, will we fight with integrity or will we pretend to be dignified while doing what we know is wrong? Before racial and religious divides, before political lines are drawn, before social status sets us apart, there is courage and cowardice in deciding to do what is right. Let us at least consider for a moment if what we are doing is merely for our own personal betterment or if we care anything about the world at large and go forward in honesty, whichever direction that may lead.