We control ourselves in ways that are sometimes not visible to us. Sometimes the habits are good ones -- social niceties that oil creaky human interactions. Other times, the habits keep us from connection. Challenge presents because we value freedom and yet we are bound to particular types of regulation. The Wild West is fun to watch on television, and the truth of today's society is that we aren't allowed to shoot others when they harm us. Yes, some people get away with murder. Others learn how to address conflict. I find that confidence via a dominance or submission technique manifests in moral stances and entertainment.
B.B. King's recent death prompted many of my area's radio stations to play B.B. King songs. When I listened closely to his lyrics, I noticed how some of them display male chauvinism. Billie Holiday and Patsy Cline voiced lyrics that perpetuated the other side of this power dynamic, an idea of romantic love as a cure for misery. They sang about romance and love in the language of their eras. King, Holiday, and Cline came of age in generations with social mores that varied from today's guidelines. They sang before the 1994 Violence Against Women Act and the 1964 Civil Rights Act. They sang when it was legally acceptable to beat up your wife or children when you felt angry. Their audiences lived in times when it was legal to deny someone entrance to a store based on personal whim. Some of modern music reflects imbalances similar to those illustrated by King, Holiday, and Cline. Vocalists sing about power through money and sex.
The idea of pity for another person is another power technique that leads to false confidence. When one declares pity for another person, one indicates moral superiority. Pity conveys "my ideas are better and you would be better off if you saw or did things my way." It says, "the person for whom I feel pity is wrong and I'm right, and I can go on my merry way and act exactly as I do because the person for whom I feel pity should be the one to change."
It reminds me of a conversation in which I recently participated. My conversation partner occasionally says words that I perceive as vicious. He says them in reference to one of his female relatives. I know some of the backstory, and the female relative took advantage of him early in their lives. When I ask him about his past with her, he insists that he's "over it." When he first said a vicious statement about her, I ignored it. I told myself that he had his reasons, and I should allow him to be who he needs to be. The second time he said a vicious statement, I felt conflicted. I knew that he had his reasons, and I also didn't like how I felt when he said those words: uncomfortable. I didn't say anything to him about it. Recently, he said a third vicious statement. I felt too offended and annoyed by his callous denial to ignore it. When I brought it up to him, he turned my words about him into words about me. In years past, I would have acquiesced at that point. It would have gone something like this.
Him: Says statement(s) that I perceive as vicious.
PreviousMe: "Ouch! That was vicious!"
Him: "No it wasn't."
PreviousMe: "Ok. You have your view and I have mine."
This time I said, "I perceive it as vicious" instead of "Ok..." Then he said something along the lines of, "I've already forgotten about it," or "I'd like to be done talking about it now." PreviousMe may have stopped here if PreviousMe hadn't stopped at his first deflection. Instead, I felt angry for almost the rest of his and my interaction. I kept silent and felt the anger. Then I asked myself why I felt angry. I've learned that I feel angry for a reason, and it helps to ask myself why I'm feeling that way. I held an internal dialogue with myself, and then when he and I had a one-on-one in-person moment, I spoke about my internal dialogue with him.
He deflected almost all of my statements back onto me. I maintained my focus: the inconsistency between his words about her and his insistence that he's "over" what happened between them.
I think I may have to decline to hear statements about her in the future. His words about her feel hurtful to me. Or maybe when he says the statements above, I can offer words like the ones in brackets. Hm.
Music in general is a tool, just like words, poetry, and voice. These tools can be used toward various ends. When we talk about another person, we are saying words about ourselves. Major spiritual systems and religious perspectives say this concept in various forms. My take on it is that each of us contains the possibility to act in every way possible to imagine in a human. The abused among us likely abused in one fashion or another. This doesn't mean sit back and take abuse. It means find and practice methods that inspire instead of perpetuating your own misery through verbal attacks.
I mean, sure, you can do it. You can feel the power that comes from speaking ill of another person. Then you can feel that you're better because of your beliefs or your knowledge set or what have you. At the end of the day, we're all human and not one of us is better than the other. Feeling angry with another person may be an indication of a boundary violation. It's not a free pass to spew vengeance upon anyone.
Conversations and lyrics express word choice and behavior. Understanding word choice as the personal responsibility of the speaker means the speaker contains emotions. The listener's personal emotion after a speaker says words are not the responsibility of the speaker. However, a relationship dynamic that values respect, justice, and balance will treat each party's emotions as relevant and important.
Well hello there.