We Used To Be Mad Love

I am often amused by the politics that I see around me; I am less amused by political aspects of my own life. At work, for example, a couple of the executives who work near me have had some bad blood with the young woman who used to work as our receptionist at the front entrance. Admittedly, I have always gotten along with her, but I have never expected her to deliver me Starbucks in the morning as these executives do. I suppose one of the downsides of office is the expectation that people will do things for you, including picking up drinks in the morning, and the absence of such service has been taken by these people as a snub, a humorous one that likely contains some dark undertones, whereas for one of the hoi polloi like myself, it is a remarkable surprise when food or drinks are provided by the office receptionist staff, as opposed to something that is expected on a regular basis.

Nevertheless, while it can be somewhat drily amusing to watch other people get snubbed, it is not so amusing for us to be snubbed ourselves. I must admit that I tend to be rather irritated and offended by snubs myself, and although I tend to be highly restrained in the way I act, I tend to notice a great deal of snubs, perhaps even some of them that are not even meant as opposed to the many which are. I wonder if others are simply that obtuse in not realizing that I am paying attention, or if in fact they do not care if they are causing deliberate offense by giving praise or opportunities to rivals or competitors that they do not give to me, even if I am standing right beside the people who are being so praised and feted. Nor, being a person who has often suffered abuse on many kinds of levels, am I sure what the best response to such slights is—one does not wish to be too thin-skinned about such matters, which itself becomes a subject of ridicule, but at the same time a lack of concern about such matters tends to encourage people to persist in their ignorance or maliciousness without any sort of check on such impolite behavior.

I have commented before [1] that certain cultures have been full of extremely hair-triggered machismo. Whether we look at the contemporary culture of male (or even female) rappers, or if we look at the history of the 19th century and before, or other places, we see that offenses to honor triggered severe, even disproportionate response. The whole joy of honor is to be respected socially and publicly; it is little joy in this life to be an honorable person and not to be viewed or treated as one. The executives around me in my office, by verbalizing in a joking way the offense to their honor that is resulted by the snubbing of the former receptionist on her coffee runs, are signaling their discontent in a way that preserves their face, but that allows the shrewd observer to recognize the depth of the offense that has been caused. How to properly signal discontent in a way that suggests the offense is recognized and that what is joked about now may have deep and dark repercussions later is a delicate task, one that depends both on one’s perceived power as well as the credibility that one has when it comes to such matters. An antebellum Southern gentleman often behaved in such a manner as to leave no doubt that slights would be punished with the utmost severity.

The end result, though, was not what such gentleman wanted. People may have not relished the thought of facing their imminent demise in a duel at the hands of a bloodthirsty and thin-skinned Southerner, but such people could not help but making fun of such prickliness behind their back, out of earshot, where they did not fear the repercussions of their slander. Abraham Lincoln, as a young man, wrote anonymous libels about his political rivals, until he found the cloak of anonymity pierced. In our own age the problem is the same; the more angrily we result to apparent snubs, the worse the reputation we get ourselves for being thin-skinned, without having righted the wrongs that we have suffered from others. We read the Bible as saying that vengeance belongs to God—for truly we cannot adequately avenge ourselves—and yet that vengeance is too slow and too invisible to deter people from acting maliciously. And truly we may be considered by others as worthy of vengeance for snubbing others, even if all we are doing is being somewhat easily distracted or absent-minded. How are we to communicate offense and have the faith that others do not want to offend us, but are merely trying to be nice to others, or are just being their clumsy and awkward selves and are unaware of all of the repercussions that come from that in such a way that does not make the offenses worse?

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2010/12/01/how-abraham-lincoln-learned-to-be-a-gentleman/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/second-mover-advantage-on-provocation-and-restraint-in-hip-hop-battles/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/too-delicate-a-sense-of-honor/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/12/31/lets-settle-this-like-men/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/12/14/a-brittle-manhood/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/02/15/no-direction-home/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/book-review-honor-and-slavery/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/10/17/laughing-stock/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/ghosts-of-the-taira-the-relationship-between-the-wars-of-the-gempei-and-the-warrior-ghost-noh-dramas/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/a-case-of-mistaken-identity/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/03/19/excuse-me-sir-but-there-has-been-an-imputation-in-your-account/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/09/29/on-my-mind/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/09/11/shame-on-the-moon/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/08/10/the-final-straw/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/08/02/the-hunt-for-context/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American History, Christianity, History, Musings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to We Used To Be Mad Love

  1. Pingback: The Unexpected Triumph Of Arcadia | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: More Than A Feeling | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: To Which Office Do I Go To Get My Reputation Back? | Edge Induced Cohesion

  4. Pingback: Mysteries Of The Bible: What Is The Connection Between Love And Respect? | Edge Induced Cohesion

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