Meandering Monday about How Killing the Messenger Doesn’t Kill the Message

You’ll soon be having Thanksgiving dinner. This is the one meal where we’re prone to having ALL our relatives together – including the ones you can’t stand (remember – relatives are people you don’t get to choose.)

Uncle Loudmouth goes into his usual tirade about something or other – a very unpleasant and controversial griping that insults many of the people there, and probably half the world outside. Traditionally, everyone does their best to ignore what he said, hoping to turn the conversation in less acrimonious, more peaceful direction.

But you decide that someone needs to tell Uncle Loudmouth to can it, and elect yourself to be the one. Even though EVERYONE hated listening to Uncle Loudmouth, they have already built in defenses against him ruining dinner (the devil they know), but you’ve introduced a new unpleasantness (the devil they don’t.) The family decides that YOU are a problem, and you’re mysteriously not invited next Thanksgiving.

Peace is not the absence of war. War has ended in Afghanistan – I don’t know who thinks it’s peaceful other than the Taliban and the Biden Administration.

People don’t like change. They are bothered when you disturb the way things are – even unpleasant things that they’ve put mini blinders on to keep from seeing anymore than they have to.

But they’ve lost the ability to mimic Gollum’s “Not listening! Not listening!”

We have generations of people now who can’t handle hearing an opposing viewpoint, or anything that challenges their worldview that the Earth is flat, or there’s anthropogenic climate change, or America is the most racist country in existence, or an unborn child isn’t human, or the 2020 election was the most fair and secure in history. Instead of reasoning with their opponents, they find it more desirable to shut people down so their worldview is protected from that challenge.

And once they’ve banned their opponents from the social conversation, duck-taped their mouths, and erased their views, they declare that there are no longer contradictory opinions, and their own consensus reigns.

If you cease to acknowledge a problem, it doesn’t mean it’s not there; you wear those blinders at your own peril. The solution to something unpleasant is to address it – not gag and kill the messenger.

Just saying…

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Reaching Out

William Mangieri’s writing has been published on Daily Science Fiction and The Arcanist. His ninety or so short stories and related collections can be found at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:

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