I had these grand plans to furiously bang out thousands of words in January. But an event happened just before Christmas that slowed me down. I needed to think through what happened.
Strike that. I felt compelled to think through what happened.
This is where I need to be as intentionally vague as possible. Here are the sparse details.
I learned that someone I tangentially know was fired from their job right before the holidays. The individual in question was fired after posting conspiracy-laden, anti-Semitic posts on a social media platform. I know this person… but I don’t know this person. I was always aware their politics didn’t align with my beliefs and principles. But I wasn’t aware of the extent of their radicalization.
Newsflash: Neither the left nor the right in their present state align with my beliefs and principles. I am that alleged rarity these days… a moderate… a centrist who evaluates each issue and policy on an individual basis. It means that I feel I inhabit this strange and lonely land. That, of course, is not reality. There are plenty who inhabit this realm… we just don’t talk to each other enough to recognize our similarities… which is a large part of the problem.
The aforementioned individual should have been fired. It was the right decision. I don’t know how this person arrived at this particular place in their life. I don’t care. There is no place in my world for hatred on the basis of race, creed, religion, sexual orientation, gender or any other similar characteristic.
No one wants to hire this person… much less even return their phone call. The word is out and everyone on the proverbial street has heard it. This person has torched every single professional connection in the industry in which they have worked for two decades.
Yeah yeah yeah… free speech. I know. According to the First Amendment, individuals have the right to say what they want. But that constitutional provision… as we all know… doesn’t exempt a person from the consequences.
This person is radioactive.
I have no concern for this person. None. Zero. They are a grown, adult human being who should comprehend that when one chooses their behavior, one chooses their consequences. If this person is ostracized, shunned and ridiculed, so be it. Seriously folks… c’mon… didn’t the world fight a major war over this precise evil eighty years ago?
Here’s what saddens and concerns me. This person has a spouse and children. One of those children has special needs. We can rail all we want about healthcare in the United States… but it doesn’t change the reality we face today. This person needs an income. This person needs excellent health insurance for their family.
I’m concerned for the short-term and long-term well-being of the children. If this person faces long-term unemployment, will the children have enough to eat? Clothing? Shelter? Will they have access to the healthcare they need?
I’m even more concerned for their psychological health. As a parent, I already see my two-year old daughter mimicking me. I see her studying me. Watching me. She’s keenly observant to the point that she’s repeating my words in the appropriate context. (Uh oh!)
What is happening to these children? Are they being radicalized? Are we going to end up with a generation of conspiracy theorist, ultra-right wing, white supremacists frothing at the mouth and glazed eyes fixed upon a certain “news channel?”
These are children. They should be fixated upon Sesame Street, not Sean Hannity.
There’s a part of me that desperately wants to grab this “adult” by the collar and violently shake them while screaming, “What… the… fuck… is… wrong… with… you?”
And this incident leads to so many larger questions. At some point, the pendulum will swing back. It has done so throughout the history of this nation. Hopefully, it rests somewhere near the center. Let us remember that George Orwell was equally suspicious of both the left and the right.
So… what exactly do we do with those who have made themselves radioactive? And what do we do about the innocent who have been or will be harmed by their parent’s thoughts, words and deeds? Do we look these children in the eye and say to them, “Your parent is wrong. What they believe is hate. And it is immoral and unethical.”? Do we advise them to do everything in their power to escape? Do we request intervention from Child Protective Services? And considering how dysfunctional that system is… does that do more harm than good?
I have no answers. None. All I have is a profound and persistent worry… for these children… for all children in these environments. Because this individual’s radioactivity hasn’t just poisoned their career… it is poisoning the very ones they claim to love.
Let us pray we find some way to protect these children lest we find them glowing in the dark.