Short Notes: Shut Up Or Else!

Jose Vilson Short Notes

My Year in Review, (Information Design Remix):

Jose’s Annual Report (Medium)

Click for the huge version of this image. I personally like how I condensed my year into a picture. I wish I could have put more into it, but it’ll be OK.

This was inspired by dy/dan, who asked his readers to participate in an information design contest, and I was more than willing to do just that. It was also inspired by A Tribe Called Quest’s “Scenario”.

– From an e-mail I sent out to some fellow bloggers:

“… we need to remember how, as helpful as technological advances have brought us the ability to effectively and efficiently communicate, it’s also been a means of deterring and tainting the votes (think Diebold and Co. in Florida and Ohio). If a person in our collective doesn’t believe any candidate truly represents their personal views, then they have every right to register to vote but not put in their ballot. If we see for instance that, despite how different everyone makes 2 candidates in a party, they’ve voted the same way about a foreign war over the last 2-3 years, then how much of a difference can there be? I personally have no objections to a particular blogger in the collective supporting a certain candidate, but I would also prefer to make an informed decision based on their positions on the topics close to me and not be associated with the same candidate simply because someone else in the collective supports them …”

More on this in the days to come.

– Speaking of which, I recently visited Shelly’s blog, and in one of her entries, she philosophizes about the importance of not complaining, and whether that’s a viable option in today’s world. Of course, I said that there has to be a distinction between complaining and speaking up. Complaining tends to be more self-centered and self-indicting than speaking up. For instance, in our school, we have complainers and people who speak up. The complainers complain about how cold it is in a room when they hardly have clothing on, or that they lost their e-mail even though they pressed the wrong button and everyone else’s e-mail works just fine on the same computer on the same server. Some staff members might even refer to them as crazy, though the complainers won’t refer to themselves as such.

On the other hand, we have people in our system who do an awful lot of speaking up, about the conditions that we set for our children, about the subpar teaching salaries, and the lack of connection between the “higher-ups” and the people who care. Their concerns don’t get addressed, and whenever they bring these issues up, they’re mistaken for complainers, and thus, while fellow staff members won’t call them crazy, they self-diagnose as crazy (they must be crazy for making common sense). That’s the difference. This isn’t strictly isolated to teachers but to all professions; much of this makes me wonder if we can differentiate between these two.

Really, as I’ve said before, we have too many people who are complicit and conformists with what happens around them. When we don’t speak up against an injustice or a policy that affects not just us but an entire community of people (it’s really about percentages, which I’ll get to at some point this week), we have a degree of culpability. I’m not saying we need to run out there and burn buildings to the ground (word to Immortal Technique and a previous version of myself). Rather than tell the dissenter to shut up (especially when you wholeheartedly agree with their assertions and even rant and rave in your own spaces about these issues), gain courage from that person and support them how you see fit.

Speaking up takes good judgment; complaining is a cowardly undertaking. Unlike what I wrote on Shelly’s blog, I’m making a distinction between these two animals. And really, when it comes down to it, it only takes a few people to make that positive change. Until we make that distinction and effectively address that to naysayers, then the protests, blogs, letters to the editors, and the plethora of weapons of civil disobedience are really for naught.

jose, who saw the rubber room trailer and simply nodded at its truth …