CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?
Pandora continued, explaining her most important point.
"Whatever happened to the old-fashioned ideas of free speech and open-mindedness in order to understand one another's way of thinking?
"For example: First, I respectfully explain my point of view to you, and you respectfully listen. Then, you respectfully explain your point of view to me, and I respectfully listen. I don't mean just pretend to listen; I mean really try to hear, process, and absorb what it is the other person is actually saying. Then and only then can we be in a position to agree or disagree.
"What we seem to do nowadays is to lump people into categories, assuming we know their thoughts, ideas, and viewpoints. Well, we don't. Individuals, thankfully, are a whole lot more interesting than that.
"My true confession a minute ago is a prime example of what I'm talking about. Three women made it known that they had formed a negative opinion about me based on my 'I am prejudiced' declaration. They obviously did not listen, not one single bit, to what came next, so intent were they on planning how to call me out.
"Right now, at this very moment, others are probably agreeing with them. They've heard the angry slurs and are probably characterizing me and my message as outrageous, bombastic, provocative - a female Donald Trump.
"They think they know all they need to know. Except they don't know diddly squat.
"Words. Powerful little buggers. Words can inform, enlighten, and educate. They can also manipulate, heckle, and spin.
"Words can be put in one's mouth or taken out of context. They can empathize, emphasize, criticize, idolize. Some words, out of the wrong mouths, can even go so far as to radicalize.
"Words. Wordplay. The love of language. The fun of the pun. But now, our words have developed more meanings than were ever intended or imagined. Political correctness has high-jacked our vocabulary. We can barely open our mouths for fear of offending something or someone.
"Politicians, the news media, the entertainment industry, advertisers, social media, our educational system, the internet - we are being so influenced by these entities, so played, that we can no longer think for ourselves.
"So what's a girl to do when confronted by ugly name-calling?
"Do I turn the other cheek and risk being blindsided by a flying hairbrush hurled in my direction? Do I launch into a sing-songy Pee-wee Herman-style rendition of 'Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me'?
"Or - (and I think this is what I really need to do from now on) - do I preface every comment with: 'Attention, please!' 'Do not pre-judge!' 'Open your mind!' 'Open your ears!' 'Think for yourself!'?"
* * *
Pandora was done.
She got off her shampoo box.
To dead silence.
"Yikes," I whispered to Indigo. In stressful moments, I can be brilliantly inarticulate.
And I guess, in stressful moments, Indigo can be incredibly brave.
She began to clap - slowly at first. Loyal lemming that I am, I joined her. Solidarity all the way.
You know how it happens in those sappy feel good movies, in the last scene, when something poignant occurs and the entire cast breaks into applause? Well, that just doesn't happen in real life. Except it did. I'm not kidding. A beauty shop full of non-lemming independent thinkers was clapping and cheering for open minds, the First Amendment, and the American way!
So caught up was I in this display of positivity that, for one stupid second, I proudly credited myself for having discovered this free-speaking marvel. But then I realized I was an idiot and returned to the spirit of the moment.
To the crowd's "You go, girl" I added my own heartfelt "You da man, Pan." I was pretty impressed with that one.
Oh, and those three mudslinging negative Nancys? They had either lemminged their way into the camaraderie, or they had slinked/slank/slunk out the back door.
* * *
OLD SCHOOL: THE BLERIAL
Old School takes the blogging idea to the next level. It's not only a "web log" of occasional happenings and/or opinions, Old School is an internet diary written in continuing story form - it's a series.
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