Wednesday 1 May 2024

I Feel Fantastic!

See here for essential background:
Since that happy incident I've had another opportunity to confront "Cathy" and this time I really meant business! This was not something I planned; the chance just dropped into my lap yesterday. It made me realize that our previous encounter was not as healing as I hoped it would be. It was only a temporary patch, not a permanent repair. I am a member of an email group containing my family members and two of our closest friends, de facto relatives essentially. I will omit a lot of the details for the sake of anonymity, but it began when Cathy said something I disagreed with. I was about to write out a simple and typical rebuttal, but then stopped. After sleeping on it and thinking about it all day today at work, I decided to send her this response:
Hi Cathy.
(The first paragraph describes the issue we differed on.)
Obviously we may continue to disagree on this. That's fine with me, but there are right and wrong ways to disagree. A good example of the wrong way is when I told you that I had voted Leave in the Brexit referendum. I approached you and my dad in good faith over this matter. (I wish I had kept my mouth shut and will never make that mistake again.) There a dozen ways you could have responded. You could have explained, calmly and politely, exactly why you think I am wrong. We could have had a productive discussion, built a consensus, and you may even have been able to change my mind. I am a rational person and my position is always falsifiable. But instead you just yelled at me: "You've never run a business, Ben! What would you know!?" This is a prime example of an ad hominem fallacy. That is why I pointed out to you: "So, what if somebody who HAD run a business made the same point as me?" You replied: "I doubt if that would happen." Do you not see the absurdity of your position? All I have to do then is produce one Brexiteer ally who runs a business and you've lost the "debate" hands down. Tim Martin, CEO of JD Wetherspoon, is the most famous of these. I put the word "debate" in quotes because the next thing you said was: "Everybody who voted Leave is stupid!" That is not an axiom in a debate; that is an insult and an attack; an insult against me personally and an attack against all the millions of people who dare to disagree with you... And you wonder why people vote for Farage!? I almost walked out at that point and I should have! So could I request that you please do not address me with that kind of disrespect in future disputes? If you acknowledge my good faith and trust I'm sure we could have a far more honest discussion. Thank you.
Regarding your general conduct towards me, it goes beyond just debating one issue. Nobody is a rubber ball that you can just toss against a brick wall again and again in the reassurance that they will not break... although some members of my family pretend to be that. Maybe this has led you into the delusion that we are. A few Christmases ago I bought you a book that I thought you might enjoy as a present. It was called Screwed by the Aliens by Timothy Green Beckley (a good friend of mine who has since passed away.) You looked at it and decided you didn't think you would enjoy it. I have been in this situation myself a few times. On those occasions I try to treat the person giving me the unwanted present with sensitivity and tolerance, in the knowledge that they have thought of me with kindness and a desire to make me happy; and have put consideration, time and money into an effort to make my life better. I might return the gift to them privately afterwards with an: "I appreciate this, but..." conversation. Or I might just say nothing and donate it quietly to a charity library. You could not or would not show me that consideration. You tossed the book contemptuously onto the coffee table with a sneer and the words: "Oh, no thank you!" You did this in front of my entire family and (the name of one of our friends). This made me feel incredibly uncomfortable, humiliated and embarrassed, but I bit my tongue to maintain the sacred "doing Christmas" decorum. (In this HPANWO TV video at about twenty minutes in I talk about the conflict in more detail: I must insist that you do not behave like that towards me again. I think I am entitled to request that little bit of basic human respect from you. Not a lot, just a little. I do not think that is unreasonable. What's more I think the same goes for other members of this family, should they feel they too have been mistreated in a similar way, but are suffering in silence to "avoid the hassle." I, for one, will suffer in silence no longer! I'm not just talking about my own welfare. If I detect any violation of other members of this family, or our circle of friends, from any individual, expect me to take action.
I will not read any more letters posted in this email group. I look forward to joining you in (an upcoming birthday party.)
Best wishes and kind regards.
Well, I've really pulled the pin there! I CC'ed the entire group; since when has she respected my personal sovereignty? I feel fantastic! I feel wonderful! I don't know if you've ever picked up a heavy bag and carried it around for so long that it begins to feel normal, a thorn in your flesh that will be there forever and you just have to put up with it... And then suddenly you drop the bag. That feeling of relief! Freedom! Empowerment! It's overwhelming. I don't know what will happen as a result of my sacrilege and I don't particularly care. I did what needed to be done. There was no other way out of this predicament than to confront my antagonist head on... I have one or two other names on my list. Watch this space!
See here for more background:


Anonymous said...

Nice one Ben. I bet it felt good to get it off your chest (and Feel Fantastic). Sad to say, over the last few years I've been in a few similar situations myself with my own version of your 'Cathy'. What I find most annoying is how some people, especially those following the ever narrowing 'consensus opinion corridor' avoid any critical thinking, research or just plain common sense and dive straight into logical fallacies - especially the old ad hominem and appeal to ridicule attacks!

I've come to the conclusion that some ideas are simply too painful for certain people to even consider let alone accept - a little like someone who has been in a very dark room for ages going outside into the bright sunshine. It's very painful for them and causes them to lash out in pain and fear! So I try and avoid these encounters now as much as I can - and be sensitive to their unlightfriendly little apertures! That said, I sometimes try and plant a few seeds that might just germinate later on!)

Keep'em coming Ben!

Calpestavo68 :-)

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Thanks, CS. will do. As Molyneux says, honesty feels like self-abuse sometimes. I've had a guilt-tripping text off my dad today. He's a hypocrite because when my mum used to feel angry she would be very vocal about it and he would be 100% in sympathy with her. Double standards!