Actions are never neutral. They’re freighted with unexamined assumptions about how to get things done. This means actions tell more about our beliefs, convictions and motivations than written confessions and stated beliefs. We will misidentify the appropriate pathway to the extent that we can’t tell these truths about what we have done and why we’ve done it.” – John Ralston Saul, The Comeback via Alan Roxburgh, Joining God, Remaking Church, Changing the World. 13.
Earlier today, I was accused by a friend of valuing the input of men over that of women on Facebook. It was simple thing, really. I posted something. A female friend posted an insight. I brushed it off and explained myself further. Then a male friend posted an insight. I thanked him for his insight. From her perspective, she said – basically – the same thing he did. How can you explain the difference in my response to her vs. him? Her suggestion was that I valued the insights of men over that of women.
My initial impulse was to defend myself. That’s ridiculous ! My response had nothing to do with gender! He made a completely different point! And so on and so on. Yet, I couldn’t shake the question – Did I respond to her comment differently because of gender? I had to admit that it was at least possible. That she was seeing something that I couldn’t see. That upon seeing it, I wanted to argue it out of sight.
I apologized, thanked her for the challenge (lofted in love) and committed to further introspection. I certainly don’t want to be the kind of man that values the insights of men over women simply because of gender. I don’t want to be the kind of man that is blind to my own sexism (and any other isms I may engage in) and the ways it shows itself in everyday life. I want to examine the unexamined assumptions out of which I act.
If John Ralston Saul is right the only way to find a pathway forward is to try to tell the truth about what I had done and why I did it. The degree to which I can’t be honest is the degree to which any pathway forward will be inappropriate – his language – or, perhaps, unhelpful – my language.
In the end my friend was provoking me – not to make me angry (that’s what trolls do) – but to help me ask and answer important questions truthfully. She was provoking me to love others better. I’m grateful. I’ll let you know how it turns out…