I have written about the subject of discernment before we speak; some say it is a Socrates’ quote, some a Sufi adage, and others from an Indian guru: “Is it true; is it kind, is it necessary?” Too many do not follow this saying, especially on Facebook. One post the other day upset me tremendously because it involved a child, but luckily, not to their face.
I have mostly held my tongue these last several years, but the level of viciousness and hate on Facebook can be appalling, in particular, political posts. Unfortunately, I see as much, if not more, from my fellow Democrats; most troubling are those from my classmates in Spiritual Psychology!
I have never met this person, just taught yoga at the same shala, and she is the one that requested to be friends on Facebook. I enjoy most of her posts, especially her own and her children’s musical accomplishments. The one that disturbed me in particular read: “I learned today of a child who told their doctor that they are ‘missing school because of the Chinese disease.’ Racists raise racists, you guys.”
And then, of course, followed by the seemingly obligatory and equally judgmental and profanity-laced comments. So, first of all, her post is about second-hand information; nevertheless, there can be several reasons why this person would believe this, but it does cause the information to be suspect. How can she know what really was said?
It is gossip to discuss someone that is not present and, as this Facebook post does, when an evaluation or a judgment is stated, particularly a negative one. I am making an assumption here that this person is talking about a tween or younger, but begs the question, does she even know how old this child is? Very young children say things all the time that have nothing to do with their surroundings or the way they are raised.
I would offer that any child younger than tweens would probably not know most social norms, including very young children not being able to identify a noun or adjective as even racist. So let’s digress a bit here. For centuries, a plague or, now, a virus was named from the local in which it originated or first discovered. Who are these people to decide that this convention used by scientists and medical practitioners is now racist? They seem to be as small-minded as someone that would blame their Chinese neighbor for the Coronavirus!
Getting back to the Facebook post, the child could have picked up the phrase “Chinese disease” anywhere and repeated it. But this person still thought the child racist? Really, a child? Is this statement true?
Did I miss some context? I will agree that if the child did know what they were saying and meant it to be racist, he would have learned it from his parents or caregivers. But not only does this person have no shame in labeling a child racist, but she also doubles down and names the parents as racists with absolutely no corroborating evidence.
And then there was the juxtaposition with another recent post she made, talking about working at a church. I know there are some despicable churches out there, like the Westboro Baptist church. Still, most churches I know of, whatever the religion or denomination, do not condone judgments of anyone, least of all children. Churches, synagogs, and mosques tend to teach being kind to our neighbors; was this statement kind?
As a therapist, I always look at what a person says for the meta-message. While a possibility, I doubt she is a closet racist herself. Bitter, prone to judgments, hateful, I doubt it based on most of her Facebook submissions. I believe from her posts that she loves children and is a fantastic advocate for her own.
Most yoga instructors are not as traditional as I am, but I know she would not have been hired at that shala without adherence to basic yogic concepts. So I am perplexed at her meta-message or how she discerned what she heard to be explicitly racist; maybe she was just having an off day in these strange times.
I thought about writing her a message but then thought it best to blog on this topic. Unfortunately, as I stated in the beginning, there are too many hate-filled posts on Facebook, Twitter, etc. I think all need to be called out, and some even condemned, but, I think, especially when directed at a child.
I will admit to seeing red over this post and that this my issue! I can seemingly justify my upset because I am a child therapist, but I know that I am, in some ways, unloading on this person. So while I believe what I have written is the truth and it is necessary to discuss wrongs I see, have I been kind? I hope so.