1. Preston Beach

    Marc, I am offended that you refer to yourself as an “old man.” I am older than you, and I AM NOT AN OLD MAN!!! See how easy it is to be insensitive, EVEN WITH SELF-DEPRECATION? You, my man (and I write that as sensitively as what is within me, which is mostly “bollocks!”), are suffering from a combination of caring and political correctness, which I find far more confusing than gender obfuscation (the PC part, not your caring)! PC just seems to keep morphing and growing, and the motivations behind it are less than innocent or well-meaning.

    Personally, I don’t want to be so sensitive about a person or population’s feelings that I stand by passively as they destroy themselves. Damnit, that requires a judgment call, and we’re not supposed to judge! So sit we on our hands…

    I share your frustrations, though I am more of a blunt instrument than you are, being not nearly so sensitive as I am a bull in a china shop (can I safely say “china shop?”).

    One thing I’ve learned that may be of help, though your wisdom on life in general is more seasoned and broad than mine, as your experiences afford you, is this:

    The ultimate value of humanity lies within the individual, regardless of whatever subtext any of us is conveniently tucked in to, and the so-called “rights” of any group, whether Presbyterian, Atheist, transgender, United/Undecided, Skinhead or Muslim or undocumented lesbian, should NEVER trample upon the inalienable rights of the individual. When a special interest group takes upon itself to be the voiced conscience of a child, I find myself somewhere between nervous and enraged. The child will, surprisingly, almost certainly speak for him/her/itself, eventually.

    You as an individual and as a marriage partner have opened up your heart and home to precious life as it is expressed in the individual giftings, idiosyncrasies, and delightful uniqueness of each or the children you are loving into adulthood. Nowhere is the power of your influence greater than right where you are! Be confident of your judgment there if nowhere else!

    I would hope that my personal preferences for the unfolding identities of my own children never be published as either entertainment or riding crop to strike and chide the conscience of the masses…and I am joyfully approaching that time when I will no longer deal with the daily pains of experiencing the great harm and tragedies wrought upon too many of the young people I have had the unreasonably weighty responsibility of tending to for the last 32 years. It’s just getting too painful. And that is not an admission of my being TOO OLD!!!

    Parent on, my friend.

    • MarcBenz

      Hi Preston!

      A couple of things to get out of the way:

      1. I never said I was an old man. I said “soon to be old man.” We all learned at a very young age that the word “soon” is a totally relative term.
      2. Bull in a china shop is still acceptable. It is, after all, “little c” china. “Big C” China may be a different story. 😉

      I think the issue goes beyond the general “PC” label that we like to put on things. To call something politically correct is to oversimplify the issue itself. PC sort of goes toward what we might call a group (African American instead of “colored”) and that sort of thing. This is pretty easy for me to figure out. I simply look at it this way: If I am not a member of said group then said group gets to decide what they want to be called and I will respect that. For me to impose upon them what *I* think they should be called is nothing but a bullying tactic. Plain and simple. And if I make a mistake here, generally, I’m gently corrected, I make a mental note of it and I move on.

      The issue I struggle with really has more to do with the fact that because of the amount of information at our fingertips and because it’s so easy for everyone to have a voice (which is a good thing), it’s hard for me to have an understanding of the mentality of every group’s individuality. And while I like to laugh at pretty much anything and can manage to separate that from how I might truly feel about something, for me to impose that philosophy on others is, once again, bullying. The best I can do is sit back, observe, and try to understand that culture or the mentality of the group. And yes, I do fear that sometimes we become too sensitive to the point where nothing is funny anymore. It’s finding that balance that’s the tough part. It’s very gray to me. That’s why I am so glad to have friends who are happy to explain these things to me rather than respond with vitriol. I always feel like I’ve grown so much every time I’ve gained a bit more understanding.

      I agree that no right should ever trample upon the inalienable rights of an individual, but even that brings up gray area. It seems that people have a different definition of what that human right is? Of course, gay marriage is a perfect example, after all, everyone has the right to marry whomever they want as long as it’s one man and one woman. But some argue that everyone has the right to fall in love with and marry whomever they want; gender doesn’t matter. Of course, you know where I stand on this. Healthy love between two people is ALWAYS going to get my vote. It’s not a religious issue. It’s a civil issue; pretty much plain and simple.

      I know that you and I have different political ideologies, and that’s fine, because I also know your ideology comes from the same place that mine does: love and hope for the human race. I know you genuinely want the best for everyone and that’s a really big deal (and why I have so much respect for you).

      You’ve been an amazing teacher to so many for the 32 years (really? 32 years?). The lives you’ve impacted in immeasurable ways is nothing to marginalize. I don’t know how you did it for so long. I don’t think it’s a matter of being too old. It’s simply a matter of saturation.

      • Preston Beach

        And saturation comes with-well, age-haha! I do hope you appreciate my tongue-in-cheek…I am a cynical man, wondering at not only what a group might be thinking, but whom also might be pulling the chain that makes the heads wag. It is an inherited trait, though not an excuse. Perhaps my besetting sin, that I always see a shadow, wherever there is light…

        By the way, I have my own definition for PC: it is when I trade my confirmed conscience for the praise of men. It is almost always more immediately convenient to do so. What small amount of true respect I have from those who know me comes from my lack of desire to fit in just for the sake of the general peace and quiet…I came out of the womb that way.

        As for gay marriage, may their children prosper (adopted ones included)! I agree, it’s a civic issue. I will most assuredly one day go to prison, but it won’t ever be for a hate crime. I find myself in a puzzling situation in my old age…?…I am simultaneously ideologically at increasingly greater distance from my country and my world, but at the same time more and more determinedly in love with the individual behind the numerous labels.

        With my wife’s initial diagnosis, and what we’ve been through the last nine months, much of what constitutes fear or strong opinion has left my being.
        I have a much stronger focus on what really matters in life; I may only hope that the sum of all my fears is conquered before my death!

        Every human has an origin, a purpose, and a destiny. I also believe that for every dream, every aspiration, every noble desire, there is an agency of evil designated to destroy each, by any means necessary. The best any man can do in this world is to make a judgment to love the value of every life including his own, and to be so filled with God’s in-dwelling presence that that source of love never runs thin or low. That doesn’t mean that some people don’t piss me off! We’ll all be home, soon enough…

        • Lorelei

          Beautifully said, Preston. Your honesty and vulnerability do you credit as well. And if I’m one of those people who pissed you off, I’m sincerely sorry. I was utterly delighted to read that Lori’s recent scans have been cancer free – I couldn’t be happier for you all.

          • Preston Beach

            Here’s God’s justice: I’ve cheated death so many times, lived a scoundrel’s life, married a beautiful innocent, and it is she, not I, who faced a death sentence. God has no problem sacrificing His best for the worst of us; my wife’s courage in the face of death, and God’s mercy in sparing her, remind me of His ultimate goals…I can rest in that! Don’t take me too personally, Lorelei…almost everybody pisses me off at some point in time!

  2. Lorelei

    I love you, Marc. The struggles you describe are what we are all trying to navigate – and your honesty and vulnerability are a breath of fresh air. Thank you for sharing your mind and heart that way.

    I’m torn about stuff like this, too – I want to be supportive of parents who want to allow their kids to grow up to be themselves without being pressured to conform to an unrealistic or unfair societal standard or norm, but I also identify with your reaction against this particular mother’s beef. My initial response was: “Why does she feel the need to make a big hairy deal about an innocent and probably affectionate greeting that is not meant to pressure her kid in any way?” I read the piece and saw that she acknowledged that “it comes from a place of love and joy and just generally being blown away by such a cute kid” – so I can’t help but wonder why she can’t accept it as it was intended instead of turning it into a statement that her child must try to be a man now (which no one actually means by that, and I’d be very surprised if any kid actually thought it meant that). And then I imagine the pressure that she must have endured to conform to societal norms and I get it. She may be overreacting, but it’s definitely a well-intentioned overreaction. I just wish we didn’t allow our own negative experiences to inform our assumptions about other people’s motives quite as often as we do, and unintentionally pass our own baggage down to our kids. I think we would all be a lot happier if we knew how to do that.

    • MarcBenz

      I couldn’t have said it better, Lorelei! I love me, too! 😉

      Seriously, I think the best we can hope for is that all sides on these issues learn to be patient and understanding. No matter who we are, we’ve never walked a mile in the shoes of others and trying to see things through their eyes is, in my opinion, the only way we’ll ever evolve psychologically and become a better society. Unfortunately, it seems like the push-back sometimes might be too much to overcome. But evolution is a slow process and hopefully we are paving the road for future generations to eventually get it right. 🙂

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