The World’s Most Dangerous People

Last weekend, while dining out with my family, one of the world’s most dangerous people sat in the booth next to us. She was right. She was sure. She knew that Muslims had demons in them, that Obama would steal the election and that Christians were being killed all over the world. She referred to Democrats as “them” and “those people”. She made sure everyone at the table prayed to a Christian god. She spoke confidently, stridently and in a loud tone that would brook no disagreement. She was absolutely, unquestionably right.

I hesitate to bring up politics and religion in one blog post. If I bragged about money or gave out unsolicited advice about how to raise your children, I will have violated every rule of civility and polite discourse. Worst of all, I don’t know that I’d be right about anything. People who vociferously spout their opinions at every opportunity will say that I lack commitment to my values and beliefs. I have been right at certain points in my life, usually at times when I was young and/or drunk. Since I’m sober and more mature, there is no end to my lack of knowledge, hence no opinion I’d be willing to defend as absolute.

Admittedly, I’m a social liberal, fiscal conservative and a registered Independent. Which means that I believe compromise is the only way to move things forward. Unfortunately, I rarely have all the facts to know what that compromise should be. Most of us don’t, which means a lot of us are being led by our noses, don’t care or have committed to whatever side seems least likely to send our country into the abyss. We’re picking the lesser of two or three evils and then standing behind the candidate as if they shot out our very own birth canals, which would resolve all this chatter about birth certificates (you’ve got one, right?).

As a relatively new blogger, I spend a lot of time perusing other blogs, just in case I don’t feel inferior enough. There are some awesome, informative and well written blogs out there. I can easily spend more time reading them than on my Wikipedia link-clicking ADD trips. Then I run across a few that are spewing venom right out of my monitor. I can only handle a few minutes, before I start wringing my hands on behalf of humanity. The hate. I just don’t get the hate – against entire genders (both sides and in-between the aisles), against cultures, religions, political parties or cats (oh, wait, that was me).

The world’s most dangerous people are those that know they are right and that everyone else “just doesn’t get it”. I admire people who can effectively argue what they believe to be right, but effectiveness turns on a couple of things:

1) Is the argument logical and well-supported or is it repetitious hammering explained in the most lengthy way possible?

2) Have they resorted to name calling when it doesn’t make sense? The weakest blogs usually include a lot of #2 (yes, yes, I have resorted to potty humor). Some misanthropic sycophants may stick around to hang out with the bully, but the depressing nature of hate sends me away. Tongue in cheek is funny, but that’s with the understanding that you’re actually in on the joke.

I’ve made the mistake of reading one post by an author and commenting positively on it. Tip: Always, always read the About page and other posts before engaging a blogger. Now, in perpetuity, I will have commented positively on a blog that perpetuates hostility and division. I believe that it’s good to know all sides of an argument, but there is the huge, dark irrelevant side that insinuates itself into a debate.

Separating the wheat from the chaff, the informative from the bullying, is a challenge. Thinking critically, in a time when we’re being overloaded with so many emphatic messages, means all those advertising and campaign dollars are wasted on me. Maybe that makes me just a little more dangerous than someone who is right.

27 Comments on “The World’s Most Dangerous People

  1. Well said.
    I’m married to a man who knows everything and loves being the centre of attention while he “educates” others. He tires me out and I say nothing.
    I just want to say how much I value your blog. It is very thoughtful and some days – painfully moving.

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    • Thanks for the kind words. Both my mother and grandmother retained their British citizenship until the early 90’s, but they were very strident in their opinions about American politics. Finally, after hours of debate, my normally patient grandfather would get frustrated and say “well, you can’t even vote, so who cares?” The room always got very, very quiet after that. Sometimes it’s easier not to engage, but I understand how exhausting it can be!

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  2. Excellent post. AND Excellent tip: “Always, always read the About page and other posts before engaging a blogger.” That is for sure my #1 rule. 🙂

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    • Thanks! I desperately tried to figure out a way to retract my comment from a nicely written post about 9/11, talking about how we’d forgotten so many of the lessons learned. Then I looked at the rest of the blog and it was loaded with intolerance and conspiracy theory. The retraction option would certainly be a nice idiot-proof feature, but lesson learned!

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  3. I don’t think you are one of the dangerous ones. Oh Wait I haven’t read your “ABOUT” …. you are right on with this post. Tolerance and compromise would lead us all to a better place. I wish it were so.

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    • Very funny! I guess I was thinking about being dangerous to the status quo – this business of dividing everyone into opposing camps and digging our heels in, as if that will help anything.

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  4. This is both a hilarious and profound post! I was already laughing when I read the first paragraph and when I got to the 2nd and next paragraphs, I was thinking, thinking, smiling, thinking…hmmm, got my mind workin right there, and I like that.

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  5. So true. I grew up in Canada where two languages are official. It’s been said (true?) that we tend to see both sides of many issues more readily because our daily life is divided between two cultures that are very different in many ways. I am appalled by people’s ignorant, rude certainty that they are RIGHT because….they just are. Hm. That sort of “logic” is usually a little tired past the age of five or so.

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    • Broadside, YES. “Just because they are.” One of the most frightening things I can recall seeing was a TV expose of the KKK back in the 1970s or 1980s. They interviewed little kids, asking “Why are black people inferior?” “Well, they just ARE,” the kids would say.

      “It just is,” is not only a sign of early indoctrination; it’s also a sign of complete lack of thought or reflection.

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  6. This brings to mind the quote about minds being like parachutes, they only work when open. I have worked with people like you describe and used to take great delight in deflating them, usually with a pithy comment that went way over their heads until they finally figured out what I said. I guess I’m dangerous, too! LOL

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    • Okay – I’m pretty sure I’ll be using the parachute quote in the future. Thanks! I would attempt to deflate people as well, but I found that if my ultimate objective were to pry open a crack in their mind to let a little air in, I’d have to do it the old-fashioned way. Killing them with kindness as it were. I’m not very good at it, though. I am too impatient and irritable to stick with that plan!

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        • Thanks! Is it wrong of me to imagine people plummeting to the ground on all sides? It must be my bedtime. I’m getting a little squirrely!

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  7. Nothing is as dangerous as the sharpened seeking mind! Ideas move mountains, explore the ocean depths and send spacecraft out into space. Of course, they’re swords with two edges.

    The blunt bludgeoning minds seem dangerous in the short term, but you can’t build much if all you can do is hammer.

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      • Not sure I agree that intelligence is dangerous; I think the ignorant or unenlightened mind especially in some segments of the population are dangerous. Take Romney and Ryan for example; they jumped the gun today. The conflict was still happening and he had to open his big mouth. These men lack any common sensibilities let alone intelligence to wait before inserting their feet into their mouths!

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        • As I had mentioned to an earlier commenter, I think intelligence, but more critical thinking (it’s possible to have the 1st attribute without the 2nd), is dangerous to the status quo – this divisive trend of people taking “sides” without questioning absolutely everything.

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        • I’m not sure I agree Romney and Ryan are not intelligent. I think it takes intelligence to accomplish what both have done. But they are also greedy and evil (or at best, misguided). I question their values; I’m not sure I question their smarts.

          Intelligence brought us medicine, but also the atom bomb. Good/Evil and Smart/Dumb are different vectors. Smart-Evil is what scares me most. They tend to be leaders of Dumb-Evil people. Or sometimes just dumb people who are easily lead.

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  8. Jesus thought was absolutely right (I am the way, the truth, the light). Look what they did to him!

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    • From the comments, I suspect that my writing was not direct enough in this piece. It’s a great jumping off point for dialogue, I suppose. I’d like to believe that Jesus was probably much kinder and forgiving in his “truths” than some of the talking heads we hear today. I wonder, too, how he’d survive in today’s political and cultural climate – instead of a cross, would it be Guantanamo or a reality show?

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