On Issues of Form, Content and Feedback
Fernando Londono was addressing Colombia’s congress when a Senator stood up, upset by the legislation proposed, walked towards the podium, and spat a loogie that landed squarely on the then Secretary of Interior of Colombia’s face.
In Colombia, you can get killed for less.
You don’t even have to hold such a high office.
We always said there were so many hungry people you could coordinate a hit with $5,000 pesos. Now, $5,000 sounds like a lot because $5,000 could be enough to kill some people in other countries. But it wasn’t.
Once converted, it was only about $2 USD. $2 doesn’t get you anything at Starbucks; in fact, you might get yourself thrown out of Starbucks if you walk in with only two dollars to your name.
But it could get someone killed in Colombia.
As a matter of fact, we also said you could get someone killed in exchange for a bottle of boxer. Boxer was an industrial glue widely used in construction. The mustard-looking glue came in a yellow tin can that had a picture on the front of two Boxers fighting over a shoe. I imagine the slogan was, “stickier than a boxer trying to chew on a shoe.” Or something along those lines.
In Spanish, it often happens that the most popular brands name the categories. So we had a Coke that was a Pepsi, and blue jeans that were black, and boxer was the name for industrial glue. And the homeless of the country were addicted to that glue.
But that’s Colombia. You are more civilized than that. What would you do if someone spat on your face? Not even Jesus addressed this question. He only talked about being spanked on one cheek and how you should pull your pants down and show the other cheek. But he didn’t cover the commandments for when you get spit on your face.
So what if you get spit on?
Chances are that if you are a man, you have been involved in spit fights with your friends and/or foes.
I have been spat on.
I have to tell you; it’s not great. The loogies land on you, and it’s wet and sticky, and full of germs and cooties and the scent of leftover food people were eating before they expectorated their fluids onto you.
But I’ve never been spit on as an adult.
I can’t say I’d be into it.
I don’t know how I’d respond. I can’t imagine it would be the way Londono responded to it. His response is completely baffling to me, especially in a country known for its violence and machismo.
Londono simply pulled his handkerchief and stated on the microphone that violence is what animals resort to when they don’t know how to use their words to express their dissatisfaction.
And kept going.
Let me repeat that, HE KEPT GOING!!! After being spat on the face.
In our current environment, your lip twitches at the wrong moment, and it is considered a microaggression, and then you are canceled because no one likes involuntary twitches because of what it represents; your true dislike for true progress.
Compare the Minister’s response to the world we live in. We can’t express an opinion without a flood of messages about how ridiculous an excuse we are for humans. And the proper response to those is to light up everyone who disagrees with us on fire. We fight fire with fire, or instead, we block people.
Everyone has to do what they feel they need to do to protect their mental health, but I’d say that we should be able to engage in conversation without investing our entire egos into it. It has happened to me, too. I have opened the comments to find a big “fuck you, you moronic idiot!” Or at least that’s how I read at the moment.
You’ve probably received a similar message. At first, it seems like an angry tirade coming from a giant with a beard that could milk a coconut just with his scowling look.
When I’m not overtaken by the emotion and the desire to tell this person to fuck off, I step away, and when I’m ready, I come back to it. Because I want to see if my ego and the nice package in which this awful message is wrapped are hiding something.
Maybe I’m the one missing something. This is not only important for writers. This is important for all human beings. Sometimes messages of disapproval can contain kernels of truth. Maybe you are not seeing the entire picture. Maybe you are missing some of the ideas. Maybe your wording or your joke is insensitive (as mine often are).
You might come to the conclusion that it is not, but I have often found that even in times when I didn’t agree with those takes, it still helped me articulate my position better or at least justify in my head why I believe what I believe or at the very least how to better use grammatical modifiers.
We don’t know how to disagree. We can’t stand the thoughts of others thinking differently than us, even though we are the only ones holding all the same beliefs we do.
It seems clear why that happens.
Your brain is more like a grocery cart when you go shopping than a printing press.
In one of his sets, comedian Dane Cook talks about how you never walk up to someone’s grocery cart and think, “wow, that’s exactly everything I was here to get.”
Think about it, not once have you walked up to a cart and mistaken it for yours if it wasn’t yours. There is probably that one time that it happened, but it is so rare that you still remember that it was that one evening in the summer of 2007 until you realized, “hey, wait a minute, I hate cottage cheese, and I still have plenty of preparation h back at home.”
Our brains are similar to our shopping carts; no two are the same.
Nobody has had all the experiences you had, your thought patterns, your genes, the way you were raised, your trauma, the accidents that happened to you, or being at the right place at the right time, or at the wrong place at the wrong time, or at the wrong place at the right time, or at the right place at the wrong time.
While your experiences could be similar to some people’s, they are never the same because the collection of you, your thoughts, your past, and your experience; is unique.
So why would people agree with everything you have to say?
But we still expect them to, and when they don’t, we block them from our lives without a second thought.
Maybe my view is uniquely shaped by my Hispanic culture, where people would tell you all sorts of crazy shit that drives you mad and you disagree with, and then you finish the call with a warm, “okay, mom, I love you. Same time tomorrow?”
The ease with which we block people from our social media feeds we use to block people from our real lives. This attitude, paired with the misinformation fed to us by both political parties and their pandering news channels, it’s driving a separation that can only lead to a dystopian future only imagined by Kurt Vonnegut or a news pundit.
I’m not saying you have to take a loogie on the face with aplomb but if it’s not a loogie and it is just a comment, maybe take a second to read a message that doesn’t align with yours before you discard it like a cherry pit.