Embracing the Resistance

We tried, we really tried. It didn’t work out, but we’ll try something again. As long as we make the attempt, then we can’t be accused of helping to feed the anger. At least we’re TRYING.

A few days ago I received word that my name was being “discussed” in some of the more left wing knitting groups. It’s weird that our world has become so shattered into splintered factions that we now call each other’s groups “left” or “right.” As if to say, “You know that restaurant is left wing….” I could care less. I’m there for the nachos. But, aside from that, here is where we are. That even those as pure as knitting could be categorized as “left” or “right.” Your ideology, despite what you do, has you on someone’s radar, which I think is pretty petty when you get down to it.

Nonetheless, the name of the group was the Resistance Knitters. A knitting group that vowed to use their talents to halt the policies of the Trump administration and blah blah blah. I’ve never understood how you could use your talents, your craft, to fight AGAINST something. You should be using them not as battle ready weaponry, but as means and methods of peaceful approach. In other words, our knitting groups have become akin to being lead by generals or popes. The generals will plot defense and attack. The popes will simply ask that you reach out.

And that’s what I decided to do. I contacted the admin of the group hoping that the vitriol of political leanings could be left aside, and that she and I could build a bridge of dialogue with the end result being that our two sides of a political leaning could show the world that our talents could be used for a greater purpose. We may not agree politically, but we’re both leading knitting groups that have very passionate members. We could REALLY do some good work.

And do you know what she said?

She said, “YES!” She agreed whole heartedly. She is on board, ready to go, ready to bring our groups together in a way that would be a lesson plan for the….well, hell, the greater discourse in our country as it seems to be. I am thankful, grateful for her positive response. I know this is someone I can work with. I respected her ideas, her opinions. I respected HER. No discussion of politics was put into play. I joined her group, she joined mine.

…..then it all went to crap. Not because of anything she and I did, but because the residue of rumor seems to love to linger like the smell of a dead carp on your doorstep.

By allowing me to join her group, she was attacked. Apparently, I threatened to rape and kill people….because that’s what I would do, if any of you have ever read this blog, yes. Yes, my words and tones, my admissions and my confessions of hope and optimism all lead one to conclude that I find my justice in threats of rape and murder. (ahem)> Carrying on….But, the fact that I am a well known conservative dismisses what I may have to say about the human desire to rise without materialism, and to move the heart towards moments of purpose, where no matter how bad things are for you, they are worse for others; that your craft could not only feed your stomach, but could also feed your soul should you listen carefully enough. All of that was dismissed and abandoned, and the noise of gossip and lies was allowed to take hold….The admin defended me….and was nearly asked to leave a group that she started.

Weird, isn’t it?

Over the course of several hours, the admin and I had wonderful conversations throughout this ordeal that would have made Thomas Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh ask us what our secret to dialogue was. It was a wonderfully sincere and genuine conversation that I was sure would bring allegiance to faction.

Alas, she informed me that her moderators had removed me from the group. I’m too much trouble. I am not only to be silenced, as I was reminded a few months ago. I am to be destroyed.

But, that isn’t the issue I wanted to discuss on this post. I wanted to talk about the intent to begin dialogue, and how leaders between two groups can decide that yes, we should really talk, and our combined efforts can bring some wonderful change. But, the vitriol of those that follow ideologies will destroy any attempt to bring about communion. “I hate you because you exist. And if you were to go, the world would be a MUCH better place,” is not the sort of phrase that one can deny hearing.

The admin and I, I think, are building a wonderful relationship. And I cannot stress enough how much I REALLY enjoyed talking to her. She’s a good person, a kind person, and someone who feels deep within her soul that the greater things are not on the surface of who we are, but our shared pains, joys and experiences as people in this mad world.

So, I told her that our attempts to bridge were not canceled. Simply postponed.

When our Knitter Be Damned facebook page was started we laid down three rules. 1) no rules. 2) everyone is welcome, no one would be banned for their political leanings. 3) don’t take everything so seriously. Enjoy yourself.

The state of our country is in peril because, I think, those rules that we apply to our group, are not being applied to social discourse. Everyone, apparently, is an enemy.

We didn’t fail, we were only hindered. And no amount of vitriol will keep this bridge from being built. I am determined to embrace them, even if they don’t want me to.

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  1. Recalling back to the original healthcare (Obamacare) debate.. There was a guy, Frank Luntz, who used to bring focus groups of everyday Americans onto one of the Fox News shows. Whenever he would have people on both sides of the issue in his groups they would end up screaming at each other.. One night he lamented to the host that he feared it would be much harder (impossible) to ever have a real conversation because people no longer believed in civil discourse. He said the healthcare debate ruined it forever. I fear the internet is a guilty party too.. People ignore the fact that there are real people on the other side of the computer screen. They are willing to type things that they would never say to someone’s face.

  2. Gregory, good piece. Why don’t the two of you start up a fresh new group that’s organized on the basis of your three principles above? Maybe screen people who are interested in being a part of the group with an eye to putting enjoyment and connection at the head of the list of criteria for meetings and conversation. If I lived there, I’d join in a heartbeat. Sending love to you.

  3. The internet certainly has become a breeding ground for bringing out the worst in people. It’s as though they feel emboldened by the anonymity of their computer screens, on both sides of the aisle. The way I go about things, I never make it a mission to start a flame war on anybody I encounter online; those that do are just looking for trouble. And it’s sad that we’ve lost our faith in civil discourse. Full disclosure: I identify as mostly liberal, and I have no problem with you being conservative. We all have our reasons and life experiences that have shaped our beliefs one way or another, and you should not have to justify why your views are the way they are for anybody; nobody should have to justify their views and beliefs for anyone but themselves. It upsets me that people who claim to be from my side of the political spectrum seem to think otherwise. You and I may not share a lot of the same views on things, but I think we both can agree that knitting and crocheting are awesome and are fantastic art forms.

  4. This was well said and written. I have noticed recently that people, while moving away from religious fervor have adopted political fervor in it’s stead. To look up from their political doctrine to embrace a view across the aisle or to even “hear” what is being said is so very threatening…. because people who heavily “drink the Kool-aide” on both sides have not really thought things through. To think about things deeply is to understand and at least acknowledge another viewpoint. To do that challenges belief. Many people would rather throw untruths/half-truths instead of admit that they might, just might be on shaky ground… I keep seeing it more and more and more. Which is why it is sooo very important to reach out and find the human in everyone and connect with who they are. We don’t have to agree to be friendly. If someone disagrees with you they are not less of a person. You are right, fiber arts should be a balm and not a match to ignite hate.

  5. Very well said. During the woman’s rally and the pink hats, I was almost embarrassed to be a knitter. I have a friend with cancer and she can’t even wear a pink hat! However, that being beside the point, I always thought knitting was supposed to be relaxing and comforting, well it has changed. I had to block some of my favorite knitting sites because of all the hateful words! The state of our country right now does make me sad. I have always supported the President, whether he was likable or not, he is our president. But what makes me really disappointed in the situation we have now is the inability to speak. If we say something that the left does not like or they do not agree with, then we are chastised and hated, called bigots, racist or sexist. No, I’m not, I just have my opinions and they are based on none of those things. I miss the days when we could actually speak without getting scared of offending someone with our opinions. If I don’t agree with abortion, I shouldn’t be chastised because I am taking away someone’s right to choose. I adopted 2 beautiful babies because someone made a different choice. See, we each have our reasons and we should be able to proudly state them! However, I think knitting should be knitting not a solution to attacking the president and stopping his MAD POWERS *eye roll*!

  6. Thank you for your gracious post Gregory. I wish I could get more to agree with us. There is lots of fear out there and I’m in no way able to calm their fears as The Admin. to “The Resistance Knitters”. This is why I wanted a more open discourse, especially in light of the shooting yesterday at a Republican baseball game. I’m concerned our two sides have gotten so polarized that we don’t listen and only attack. I’ve recently been attacked by Liberals, I guess I’m not Liberal enough (Joking, kind of). Anyway, the word Civil Discourse is perfect for what I want. Now, I’m being attacked and I have to beg off for a bit. Your post which looks lovely to me, it is a trigger to others. Why? I’m a bit mystified myself. But formally I was a history teacher and I do find political conversations, without the hate filled language interesting. That you have a different opinion on how Fiber Arts is used in our group verses how you would like to see it, intrigues me more than offends me. But, I see it more in a positive light of defending values I think are important, like fighting Climate Change. But that is what America is about. Our ability to discuss and freely disagree. To shut each other down can be a bad move and honestly I fear violence (across America), because of the lack of positive constructive conversations. But I can’t change others and I have to keep peace as an Admin.in my group. So know my heart, I still feel the same way, I’ve just got a chewed leg and heart right now. (The Admin, for The Resistance Knitters)

  7. Just a note, I wasn’t one of the Resisters who had an issue with you as a member.

    And I’ve submitted a request to join your group.

    We knit, therefore we are
    Fellow humans and Americans

  8. It’s unfortunate that people on both sides cannot comprehend the value of being able to engage in rational dialogue. It’s as if they don’t believe in the strength of their own ideas so they have to overcompensate with emotions and spite.

    I routinely hold myself up as the perfect example of someone who was raised one way, actively was persuaded under one umbrella, but after thorough research of both side’s ideas, I draw my own conclusions, now. It helps shut people up when they claim no one changes their mind.

    Needless to say I believe very differently than how I grew up. I’m not afraid of other people’s ideas, either, because I believe in the strength of my own and don’t feel threatened just because someone else does not…yet.

    Underneath of it all, I am quite a pragmatist. I believe in what works. Show me the evidence that supports the assertion that your ideas rock and let’s talk.

    This woman’s path is not totally unlike my own. I love her and want to give her a hug. https://www.ted.com/talks/megan_phelps_roper_i_grew_up_in_the_westboro_baptist_church_here_s_why_i_left

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