Collateral Damage

Posted in Race, Religion by chamblee54 on June 30, 2012

This post was originally published four years ago. In the intervening forty eight months, many women and children have been killed in crossfire. The United States will send a roboplane to bomb a village, and then send another roboplane to kill the rescuers, and a third roboplane to attack the funeral. Isreal killed hundreds of children in Gaza, most of whom were too young to fire missiles. Closer to home, people who choose not to denounce a drag queen are labelled racists. It is a funny world. Pictures are from ” The Special Collections and Archives,Georgia State University Library”.

Back a war or two ago, a phrase entered the vocabulary. The expression was collateral damage. This referred to civilians killed in a combat action. It sounds a lot nicer than dead women and children. To hear the war supporters tell it, the enemy was causing this. The terrorists would move women and children into areas they knew were going to be attacked, so they could be killed. To the war supporters, it was a cost of doing business.

The past few days, there has been discussion at this facility about speaking out when you hear something you don’t like. People say it is bigotry and hate, which sounds a lot worse than something you don’t like. Just like collateral damage sounds nicer than dead children.

When people put on their warpaint about to fight bigotry, there is frequently collateral damage. There was an incident that illustrates my point. This was when I was at Redo Blue, working with the Bully for Jesus. I will use the initials BFJ. One day BFJ heard someone make a comment using the phrase
“your daddy said”. This comment was made by a white person, referring to another white person. BFJ is a black person, and the comment offended him.
BFJ decided to vent his feelings about this comment. This happened all the time, BFJ had a nasty mouth, which would run off at the slightest provocation. Since he was working on a rush job across the room from the white person, he made his comments in a loud voice. This way the white person across the room could hear what he said, and BFJ could work on his rush job.

Towards the end of his speech, BFJ made the comment
“when your mother and your father forsake you, you still have your father in heaven” This is supposed to be in the Bible. BFJ was staring at me and shouting when he said this. Later, he said he had not been talking to me. This was very common at redo blue. People would stand in front of you screaming offensive things. If you looked at them, they would go off, screaming “I’m not talking to you”.
There is a bit of backstory here. Three weeks after my mother died, I went to the bathroom. I started to realize how much I missed her, and felt very sad. When I came out of the bathroom, a woman was praying for entertainment on the BFJ’s radio. I was offended. When I asked the BFJ to turn down his radio, he declared war. This poisoned our working relationship the entire time I was at redo blue.

This comment pushed me past my limits. BFJ conducted a ministry on company time, and had a nasty temper. I had to say something. Sometimes, you need to stand up to a bully. And you best be prepared for a fight, which is exactly what the bully wants. You should never wrestle with a pig. You will only get dirty, and the pig will enjoy it.

I left a note on his desk saying that
”My mother and father have not forsaken me.” We had a closed door meeting. He argued with everything I said, admitted no wrongdoing, and chewed me out repeatedly for what the other white person had said. When I was at the point where I thought he was the lowest scum on the planet, BFJ said “Jesus made me what I am today”.
We continued to work closely together for another three years or so. I witnessed a few hundred more hours of his ministry. One day the manager called me into the office, and told me not to come back.

The point of this story is, when you “Stand Up” against “bigoted comments”, you might need to be prepared to mud wrestle with someone who thinks he is building his faith. You should learn the difference between bigotry and being too sensitive. It is best to keep things between you and the person who offended you, and not cause collateral damage.

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