The “joke” was posted on Facebook by a friend I haven’t seen since we were teenagers. In it, a man was kneeling beside a stream and dipping a cupped hand in it to scoop up water. The Amish farmer who owned the land approached the stranger. “Don’t drink at this spot, friend,” he said. “You’re downstream from where my pigs wallow.” The farmer pointed to a spot beyond a cluster of trees. “The water will be much better up there.”
When the stranger stood, the farmer noticed he was wearing a Muslim skull cap and had a prayer rug tucked under his arm. “Praise Allah for your kindness,” the stranger said.
The farmer’s eyes bugged out and his face grew red. “Just kidding,” he said. “What I meant to say was USE TWO HANDS!”
Thus began my dilemma. Should I comment that I found the joke insensitive and hurtful not only to our Islamic brothers and sisters but also to the Amish? Or should I shrug, let it go and keep on scrolling through Facebook?
I chose the former. The backlash was immediate.
“Your [sic] a dumbass,” wrote John, whose last name I’m not including. (I don’t know John. He’s neither a real-life friend nor a Facebook friend.) “Your [sic] what’s wrong with this country. Back in the good old days, you probably didn’t think Pollack jokes were funny.”
Next dilemma. Do I respond to John or ignore him? Again, I chose the former. I wrote–in the nicest possible way, of course—that he doesn’t even know me. I might be many things but a dumbass isn’t one of them. I wrote that this world would be a better place if we treated each other with kindness and respect. We should strive to live the Golden Rule. I struggled mightily over whether to point out to John that he’d erred in using the possessive “your” rather than the contraction “you’re.” I decided against it. So I hit SEND and logged out of Facebook.
I’d wasted almost half an hour arguing with a total stranger. Unfortunately, it’s not the only time I’ve frittered away valuable minutes of my life bickering with someone whose opinion I absolutely, positively can’t change. Most people who post controversial photos or memes or jokes or political statements on Facebook aren’t doing it to stimulate intelligent, two-sided discourse. They’re doing it because it’s easy and because they want to stir the pot
So here’s my resolution for 2019, in addition to straightening out my piles of paper and trying to find Sunny the Champagne Palomino. I vow to not get riled up by anything I see on Facebook, no matter how stupid it is. You can call me a dumbass. A snowflake. A Demo-Rat. But know that I’m not going to take the bait.
Because that’s giving the “Johns” of this world exactly what they want.
(January 20, 2019)