I struck a raw nerve with my previous post about my home-town, Benoni.
The comments started flowing into my Facebook while I sat in the waiting lounge at the car-repair place. My heart sunk into the pit of my bowels when I saw the first comment… and then the next… and then the next…
“Oh shit! Oh shit! They’re not hearing what I was trying to say!“ – I thought, as I desperately jabbed my unresponsive blackberry, trying to reply to the comments… trying to say: “No – that’s not what I was saying at all!!”
To say that I was shocked… and completely taken aback – by the harsh, angry comments and accusations on my Facebook page – is an understatement.
Wow! Note to Self: Don’t fuck with the Benonians!
What is it about blog writing that gets me into so much trouble? Do I just suck terribly at getting my point across? Am I that bad at communicating? Should I end off every blog post with a long list of disclaimers saying:
“Now, hear what I’m saying and not what I’m NOT saying”…
So – in defense of my previous post… and as an explanation – or giant disclaimer to the Angry Benonians who have posted on my Facebook….
takes deep breath
I am sorry if I offended you with my post.
It was NOT my intention – (which is why I was genuinely shocked – and literally shaking – when all the comments started rolling in).
The post wasn’t actually about BENONI, per se… it’s more about a “system”… or a “mentality” that I really, really struggle with. Every town or city (or nation) has it’s prevailing particular system… or “mentality” that governs it. I’m just as un-impressed with the Randburg-Mentality… or the Sandton-Mentality (cue angry posts from every friend living in Randburg or Sandton).
The “middle-class-mentality” that I write about is wide-spread… (world-wide!)… I simply write from the Benoni angle because that’s the most familiar story that I can tell.
And I struggle with that same mentality!!! I’m not immune to it! I’m not above it! I think in the way I was ‘taught’ to think – and it drives me bonkers!
Let me put it to you this way (I like to write in metaphors).
I grew up as a Christian. I was a Christian for most of my life. Started attending church from the age of 2.
But – much like the “mentality”…. or “the system” I was describing (when I was going on about Benoni)… there is MUCH about the Christian “system” or “mentality” that turns me off too!! Drives me mad. Makes me want to rant and rave and pound my fists…
Jeez – I can think of so many things about that the Christian mentality that just makes me go “Ugh!!!”
(I won’t list all the issues I have with the prevailing Christian “mentality” because I might just receive an angry flood of responses from all my Christian friends and relatives!).
Now – hear me:
In the same way that I dislike the “Christian-mentality”… I also push against the “middle-class mentality”. And, just because I dislike “middle-class-mentality”… (which is EVERYWHERE – certainly not just in Benoni!)… I am NOT attacking the friends or family who are Benonians… or “middle-class” (like me!).
I mean – holy cow – half my family (and Nick’s family) live in Benoni and are middle-class… and many, many friends… why on earth would I attack everyone?
What I’m trying to do is QUESTION our way of thinking (and I outlined that way of thinking in the previous post – and another post that I wrote on classism). Note – I’m saying “our” way of thinking – not “your” way… or “their” way…
I get very frustrated with – what I perceive to be a belief-system… or a mentality… or (call it what you will) that LIMITS my (or your) possibilities in life. The words: “I can’t…” is one that I often struggle with.
I get very frustrated with a belief system or mentality that infers that we all have to live our lives according to a certain set of prescriptions… a certain Status Quo… and if you DON’T do it that way….then you just don’t “fit” and you are “wrong”…
I’ll go back to the Christian-mentality (also very much a part of who I am… very much a part of my roots). There are still very limiting ideals that I place upon myself and my life – because I have been raised as a Christian… and because I “think” like a Christian…. because I have been “taught” to think like a Christian (thousands of sermons immediately spring to mind).
Does this mean that I have a hate vendetta against all Christians? Does this mean that I consider Christianity to be “beneath” me?
Absolutely not! I have so many wonderful friends… and family members… who are Christian! And I think they’re awesome…. in spite of the fact that I struggle so deeply with a certain “mentality” that we have all inherited.
The same is true for Benoni.
I did absolutely NOT mean to infer that there was something wrong with every person who has ever lived in Benoni! That would be the same as saying that there’s something deeply wrong with every Christian I know – which just isn’t true!
I was only trying to dig deeper into the “mentality” that – I think – affects so many of us – in ways we haven’t even realised – myself included! And that’s what I rebel against… what I push against… what I kick against…
Having said that…
I am saddened… and a bit disappointed… that nobody stopped to think – even for a second – about what I was trying to say, before responding so viciously. No phone calls or e-mails from anyone saying: “Sheesh, Heather – your last post sounded a bit harsh… and I feel a bit hurt by it. That doesn’t sound like you at all – what were you inferring?”.
Instead – people who have known me – for my whole life – immediately assumed the worst about me… and wrote some pretty nasty things about my character.
So… perhaps this is all a poignant case in point?
Attacking what we don’t understand (very typical of the very mentality that I’m trying to unearth here)… instead of seeking out some good, healthy ol’ dialogue… instead of simply asking… or questioning… or saying:
“Heather – I know you better than this! Your post sounds a bit poisonous. I don’t agree with what you’re saying – please explain what on earth you’re going on about!?”
I’m a dialogue person. I like communicating… I enjoy debating… I love discussion – and I don’t expect people to agree with everything I write or say (in fact, I’m glad that people don’t!).
But – instead of dialogue… all I got was attack, attack, attack!
And THAT, my friends, is very-much a part of the “mentality” that I kick so hard against. It’s THAT thing. The blind lashing-out at something… before any proper dialogue or discussion has taken place. It’s THAT thing that I just can’t stomach.
Here are my disclaimers for-the-day:
- I do not hate or sneer down on everyone who lives in Benoni. I am – after all – a product of Benoni myself!
- I’m not particularly enamoured with The-Randburg-Mentality either. Or ANY mentality that blindly supports a certain “Status Quo” or way-of-doing-things (whether social / political / religious / whatever!).
- I have many family and friends who live in Benoni – whom I love… and respect.
- I have many Christian family & friends – whom I love… and respect.
- I have many wonderful memories of my years in Benoni – and many photos too.
- I’m not ashamed to say that Benoni is my home-town. If I was, it would have been deleted from Facebook a long time ago.
- I still maintain that there are certain systems or mentalities that govern our way of thinking – whether we care to admit it or not (and that’s where my irritation lies).
- And if you still aren’t “getting” what I’m trying to say here, then please: let’s DISCUSS this! Speak to me – don’t just perform a mob-lynching because you’re offended… speak to me – question me – challenge me with your version or your story… but this childish attacking and name-calling? Don’t bother. My days of grovelling and trying to make people ‘like’ me are over.