Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Mean People Suck

They are like some Dickensian nightmare that seems to crawl from under the modern Christmas Present’s robes during and after times of great tragedy. Actually they are always there. You see them rearing their petty noggins from time to time, but they like to snatch them back inside their shell once they realize how hideously ugly they are.

It would be so much easier if they were accompanied by clanking chains and the moans of the damned. I have a feeling that comes later for them.

I know we all are capable of being one of them. When I was in eighth grade, I remember the moment that made me their kin.

She was incredibly popular and pretty in a Mormon way. Big pretty teeth in a constant beauty pageant smile. She was just smart enough for people to like her but not freakishly smart. That was me. Freakishly smart and trying so hard to hide it.

I hated her. I think her name was Tammy. She grated on my nerves to the point that I could barely stand to be around her.

“Haaaa-ay!” She could turn ‘hey’ into two syllables. Chirpy, Chirpety, Chirp, Chirp.

My dislike for Tammy went beyond mere envy. It was a fury at the world that valued people like her and despised people like me. It was a rage at her on a cellular level, yet not at her, but at what she was. It was an archetypal racism. It’s the hate they talk about when they talk about “hate crimes”. It’s unspeakably ugly. Ugly as sin.

We were both attending a beach party on the Island. She came up to me with a sad look on her face and asked, “Why do you hate me so much?”

I was shocked because she noticed.

I broke down in tears and could not answer. My silence witnessed my epiphany. She walked away without realizing the change she had wrought in me by showing me my hatred.

I’ve come to understand that my epiphany hasn’t arrived for a fair portion of the population of earth. Most people are perfectly happy hating without rhyme or reason. Most people like to wallow in their hate and enjoy aiming it toward curious and inappropriate places.

I reserve my hatred for the government. They are largely deserving and I figure, they can take it. The pompous and hubris-ridden are fun to make fun of.

You’d think that philanthropic endeavors would be free of such vitriol. How can anyone hate you for feeding the hungry or clothing the naked or helping little puppy dogs? But not-for-profits seem to be almost as good a target for hate as pretty cheerleaders and stupid, evil political regimes.

Hurricane Katrina had barely cleared Mississippi before the rumblings began denigrating the Red Cross. The Internet is full of anti-Red Cross sentiment, some of it quite ugly. I heard a nasty Internet tirade the other day that went off on the Red Cross largely because the writer of this piece of idiocy thought the Red Cross charged WWII soldiers for cigarettes.

In humane circles, the big target is the HSUS. I can’t claim to agree with everything that comes out of there, but the sheer range of crazy opposition to the HSUS is pretty impressive. They have apparently pissed off everyone at some point or another. So you get cock fighters and puppy-millers screaming at them for being crazy animal rightists. Then you have all of the crazy animal rightists sneering at them for being toadies of the government. I am being stalked right now for including their url in a list of charities to consider for donations.

Even my little tiny corner of philanthropy is under attack. I honestly can’t find much these days to recommend about the rescue community, even in my little corner of fearless defenders of cocker spaniels. A rival group of cocker spaniel rescuers became insanely jealous of my little group’s fundraising success for Noah’s Wish and began pelting us with sour grapes. It’s actually fairly hilarious if it weren’t so vicious. I think I need to write a book about it.

Even when we were setting up the little fundraiser for Noah’s Wish, some slime mold came out of the woodwork and began defaming the founder of that organization. It very nearly pulled us off track. But it became obvious that this person was trying to appropriate our fundraiser for her own charity.

Part of the problem of moving the responsibility of news gathering to the Internet is that there are no ethics on the Internet. No control for slander or character defamation. And most of the people on the Internet really do believe everything they read there, particularly if it is nasty, gossipy or slanderous. It’s the price we pay for living in a “dumbed down” society.

But in the end, those telling the tales and badmouthing charities end up looking bad. You might as well beat yourself to death with an ugly stick. Picking on people who are just trying to alleviate a bad situation just makes you look petty. And sure, you will have people who will flock to you because of your ranting. They are more than likely to be people who feed off of pettiness.

Tammy, I imagine in my mind, lives in a perfectly ordered Junior League life as the successful wife of some lawyer or doctor. She has a perfect family with a gaggle of beautiful children with perfect teeth. I need to believe in her perfection. I need her to be that happy chirpy adult. I need her to be my reminder that just because there is an anti-me out there, that the world is big enough for both of us. I need to believe that her ability to marry well has served a purpose to the greater good. And I’m sure that it has.

We are a complex species. Each of us equally capable of both transcendental kindness and unspeakable depravity. Perhaps we do know better how charity dollars should be spent. Perhaps we would do a better job. If we honestly believe this, we should go out and use our powers for good. Not beat up on The United Way or The Red Cross or the HSUS.

Unless you are beating up on Reverend Benny Hinn. Now that guy is open season 24-7.


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