What does “X” have to do with CrossFit? That old chestnut. It happened when CrossFit partnered with Reebok. It happened when CrossFit promoted infant swimming resource. It happened when CrossFit went after sugar and Big Soda. It happens every time CrossFit publishes something that [insert person here] doesn’t agree with. It’s the result of a collision of emotion and attachment; a closely held part of a person’s life (CrossFit) and a part of their ideology interacting. Feeling these things is normal. Allowing them to rule you and color all of your responses, lead you to shout down anyone not agreeing with you, and demanding that someone do what you say in the sweep of a moral outrage is most certainly not OK.
We saw this just a few weeks ago in the bitch-fest over Glock® providing Glock 17 pistols to the winners of the CrossFit Games®. This is about more than just guns, but it is most certainly about that, too. A lot of people started yelling. GASP! GUNS! Emotional, knee-jerk reactions proliferated. Self-righteous, uninformed, sermons about what CrossFit should or should not do/say/be popped up everywhere.
We often falsely assume things or people we’re close to operate in lock-step with our own ideals, values, and politics. That simply isn’t true (spoiler: that’s OK).
In the wider world, the shouting and rhetoric has reached a frequency not seen in this generation. I don’t think it’s worse than it’s ever been, necessarily. But, with our modern connected communications capabilities the volume is cranked up in a way not possible before.
People like the Twitter user above don’t want to share ideas, they want to shout at people. On the surface it seems they just want attention; they want people to listen to them. But where there should be reasoned, intelligent, informed–even impassioned–discussion there is emotive, often angry, hateful, self-righteous screaming and indignation. There’s a wide gulf between being ruled by emotion and expressing that emotion in a cogent way.
The world of ideas is not a fucking zero-sum scream battle between you and “them” where you have a louder voice and all you have to do is scream loudest to win.
If the object in question was a car, would anyone object to Mercedes Benz giving athletes a car on the same grounds? Because of “what’s happening in Paris?” Of course not. Thousands of people die in car-related incidents around the world every single day. That doesn’t mean that every thing that has a car in it from that point forward is some sort of calculated, politicized campaign by the fucking illuminati. The visceral, albeit predictable reaction from some people is pretty heinous. The “it’s in poor taste” comments, and people saying things such as, “Given what’s going on in the world …” or “With what’s happening right now … How could you!” Well, that’s a well and good sentiment, but it’s born out of convenience and selective reasoning. These things are always happening in the world. We just choose to pay more attention to them sometimes. Remember Cecil the lion?
It’s inconvenient to worry about things like cars and sugar, let alone froth at the mouth each time they’re mentioned. A much, much larger number of people are killed by these things (closer to half a million annually). Of course some people are appalled by this, as they should be. But, the outrage doesn’t have the same ascendency. It’s politically popular to be outraged about guns right now. Being outraged over sugar or cars doesn’t afford any social capital.
The presumption that the person who disagrees with you is a fucking idiot has to stop. If assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups, presumption is most certainly the baby-daddy.
Guns are a proxy for the evil people who do violent, unjust things with them. Sugar is a proxy for malevolent profit-driven forces in society that have abused it for their gain and caused the epidemic of metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Sugar and guns are easily identified singular elements of the problem, and they are convenient and easy to anthropomorphize into the enemy–something we can actually fight. We can’t directly fight or destroy abstract things like evil people or love of sugar–we will never do that. So we rail against proxies of the things that seem to represent the whole of the issue.
At the root of it all, people are the problem; likely not the people we’re yelling at, either. This is why CrossFit focuses on changing behavior, when it comes to sugar and metabolic syndrome. We talk about “sugar” a lot, but it’s a place holder for the forces behind it like big soda and our addiction to scarfing it down and not getting off the couch.
Everyone has an opinion–to which they’re entitled (they are not entitled to be taken seriously or listened to, though). Having an opinion isn’t the issue. The issue is the opinion being of effusive emotion, not rational thought, and in the hubris that someone–or anyone–has to give a shit about it. Or, about your feelings simply because you’re shouting into the ether. On guns, fruitbats or the economic policy of Greece.
We often falsely assume things or people we’re close to operate in lock-step with our own ideals, values and politics. That simply isn’t true (spoiler: that’s OK). I get it. People are emotionally involved with CrossFit in ways they often aren’t with other things. That closeness can sometimes rub a raw nerve.
The CrossFit community is made up of people from around the globe, from all walks of life, and every varied political, philosophical, and ethical mix of personal ideologies. I don’t agree with all of them. Just as I don’t agree with everything my parents think. Or my friends. That doesn’t make me want to change them, though. It doesn’t reduce my respect for them, or for my part in our family or my circle of friends. It also doesn’t give me the right to demand they do something differently to appease me, and eliminate conflict with my ideology. Only assholes do that.
The burden is on you to convince others of your position, not shame them or ram it down their throat. My reaction to that behavior will be, “Fuck you.” Twelve times out of 10.
People seem to think their angry shouting should force someone else to do something. Believing so takes an ego-centric worldview in which one is a unique, special snowflake with sole ownership of the right to compel others to their position. It’s a self-righteous position devoid of respect for other people. If you discuss how you feel with someone and reach some sort of an understanding, even if it’s not agreement, then you’ve really done something. But that requires respect for other people and their ideas. The world of ideas is not a fucking zero-sum scream-battle between you and “them” where you have a louder voice and all you have to do is scream loudest to win.
This isn’t catholic boarding school, and you are not a fucking nun. You don’t get to dictate to people. “Because I said so,” doesn’t cut it, chief. If you want someone or something to change, you need to look first at yourself. Second, the burden is on you to convince others of your position, not shame them or ram it down their throat. My reaction to that behavior will be, “Fuck you.” Twelve times out of 10.
You select the group of people you love and care about, and who you share your most closely held ideas and feelings with. When people care about each other, they care how each other feel about things. They aren’t obligated to feel a certain way because you will it, but because they empathize. Outside that select group’s social contract no one is required to give a shit about anything you feel. If your message is sound, the world will take heed and might consider your feelings as well. If it is not–if it’s just shouting–the world will pull away. Except maybe for those shouting the same things you are, in an echo chamber. Even people who agree, if they’re rational, won’t support that behavior. There are lots of people who “believe in 2A rights” who I do not support, and will not condone their shouting, rhetoric, or ignorance.
We are utterly obsessed with the very small ways in which we differ, instead of the enormous, abundant ways in which we are the same. This isn’t how CrossFit began, and except for a loud-mouthed few it’s not how it is now.
There exists an arrogant attitude that not only should large communities be required to listen to, forced to care about, and mandated to act on the emotional whim of an individual who is a small part (but a part nonetheless) of that community. People and groups far, far outside of the aforementioned inner circle are often ludicrously presumed beholden to the same standard.
This follows the sentiment that these required ideals are more right and more important than those of others–or at least those who don’t agree–and everyone else should capitulate and kowtow to the wants of the loudest, angriest shouter.
So where do we go from here? How do we have a constructive conversation about anything? Affect change about something we care about? Start by respecting the person you disagree with. Guns, social policy, or otherwise. The presumption that a person who disagrees with you is a fucking idiot has to stop. If assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups, presumption is most certainly the baby-daddy. Not only is that presumption almost always wrong–on both sides–but it’s the highest barrier to meaningful discussion and understanding of others.
Of course, some people don’t want to understand others. They just want to yell. Their righteous indignation is so strong, their self control so weak, they believe anyone who disagrees or even questions what they have to say is pure evil and deserves no respect. They’re then free to act irrationally, maliciously, and say/do whatever they wish to that person/entity in the name of their righteousness. This is a tactic long wielded by the religious right; now newly discovered and gleefully flung about by the nut-job, far-left shame culture. Fuck all of those people, on both sides. They are what’s wrong with the earth.
It’s easier to say what not to do to be effective and to be a decent human than it is to say what to do.
We are utterly obsessed with the very small ways in which we differ, instead of the enormous, abundant ways in which we are the same.
Listen to people. Empathize. Try to understand them–if they’re seeking to be understood. If they’re just shouting, don’t even bother. It’s not worth your time. There are people who are. Stick with them.
Pay mind to those who see the many ways in which you’re the same, not the tiny ways in which you’re different. Someone who thinks no one should be able to own a gun and someone who is a competitive practical shooter can both do the Filthy Fifty side by side, high-five each other, discuss their weekend plans, talk about their kids and experience the unspoken sameness and belongingness we’ve always known and loved. It’s why we’re here now. Discuss these things with each other, if you like. But stop with the egotistical, self-righteous need to force them to agree or submit to your way of thinking. If you stop trying to do that, you’ll find that you just might change someone’s mind.