It is one of the non-negotiable facts of life that no matter how much you wish it was different, you will never — ever — look good whilst trying to make someone else look bad. Cause and effect, that’s just the way it works. I suspect the simple central connection is that hatred on parade is always as ugly as home-made sin — especially the unreasoned kind.

By way of example I’d like to relate to you the jist of a conversation I recently had with a fellow who shall remain nameless. Well, maybe not completely nameless, but certainly his name will be herein changed. I’m not intending to hard-ding the man here, just illustrate a surprisingly common occurrence these days. The where isn’t important, and the when of it will become clear via context.

“Morning, Snudge.”

“Morning, Bozo. So, what do you think of that #$%! show in the Senate yesterday?”

“Uhm ... well ... that kind of depends on what you’re talking about.”

“I’m talkin’ about those *&%$@# racist Republicans! Those goose-stepping, Nazi %$@#ers let that miserable &^%@$!er go!”

I probably should have just let it go like usual, but to be honest, It’s getting really, really old. So I made the mistake of having (and expressing), a differing opinion.

“Wow! That’s kinda ugly.”

“Not half a ugly as that racist, sexist, perverted sunuvabish in the White House!”

“Yeah. About that. Hold the phone, Flastergab! I’ve heard a lot of that stuff coming from a lot of people who clearly lack the resources — and the motive — to attach any sort of veracity or substantiation to either the comments or the sentiments behind them. Those are some pretty nasty accusations, and I notice a lot of folks lettin’ ’em loose are plenty long on insult but mighty short on proof.”

“You gotta be kidding! Didn’t you hear what he said about women?!”

“Which time?”

“That time in the locker room! You can’t deny that. He got his *(biblical beast of burden)* recorded!”

“Yes. He did. But I wonder if your younger locker room comments, much less the last five minutes would stand as much scrutiny.”

“Yeah, but that don’t matter. I’m not the president.”

I blew out a heartfelt sigh of relief. “Amen to that, but at the time ... he wasn’t either.”

“Why are you covering for this guy? He’s a g**dam racist!”

“Got any evidence of that?”

“Aw, h*ll! I don’t need any evidence! Everybody with half a brain knows it.”

“I suspect there’s more truth than fiction to that.”

He returned with a puzzled and angry frown. “What does that mean?”

“Nuthin’. Never mind. Look, I’ll be totally happy to help you dislike the man — provided it’s on real terms and solid grounds. Show me the provable reality of any of it, and I’ll entertain the idea of changing my mind. Otherwise, and in the meantime, count me out.”

Then the predictable ad-hominem attack began.

“I’ll bet you voted for that orange-headed turd, didn’t you?!”

“Well, no. As a matter of fact, I didn’t.”

“What? You voted for Hillary?! I don’t believe you!”

“Wrong again! At the time, it looked a whole lot like a contest between the Red Queen and The Mad Hatter, so I took a different option.”

“What different option? There weren’t any other options!”

“Then I guess it wouldn’t do any good to explain. Suffice it to say I had a personal friend in the race ... and Trump was likely going to win anyway.”

I think the man visibly winced. The conversation stalled right there, and without fanfare we went our separate ways. I hoped no permanent harm was done, but it was plain enough I’d dropped an unwelcome worm into his oatmeal. He probably thought it was a safe subject and assumed a like-minded and shared opinion. In some circles, he was probably right. But not this time. From my view, the whole exchange had all the appeal of a scabbed-over plantar wart. The primary take-away was, hatred just ain’t pretty. When you let that demon come out to play, it doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and you are in no wise immune from both it’s voracious penchant for destruction, nor the backlash inevitably wrought therefrom. And that’s not a conversation nor process I want to be a part of.

And I guess that’s a lesson a lot of folks like me need to be willing to both learn, teach and enforce. A good place to start is with a cliche but effective practice I learned from my mother back before I was tall enough to raid the kitchen cabinets for the cookies hidden up there. If you haven’t got anything good to say about someone ... try, “Ayup. Sure looks like we’re gonna get some more rain.”

From the top rail of the leanin’ fence here at The Paper Radio, the truth of the matter is, God provides the morning, the texture and the opportunities — ’tis then up to us to provide an honorable response.

Dan Beard is an 12-year Paris import who dabbles in Linux and photography. He has a 30-year history of writing content and columns for newspapers and magazines. 

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