Life, Social Commentary
Comments 3

Voting feet.

So…the WideEyedHousehold had to leave our archery league.

Not because of my broken wrist: the little bones in there are cemented back together after several months. I get an exciting zing every time I release the bow string, adds to the thrill of the moment. And, not because the Spouse’s reconstructed clavicles feel like marbles rolling around in his shoulders – although apparently they do. Lesson: don’t fall down when riding a bike. Twice.

We’ll still probably stick arrows in the archery butt in the dining room. Maybe. We’ll see.

The thing is, we had a choice to make. A family-level ethics choice. The choice centered on the issue of tolerance. The WideEyedHousehold runs on tolerance. People have their own ways and it is not my business to re-educate the Spouse when he makes the bed wrong (I do not like it when the sheet pattern is in the wrong direction) and it is not his to help me be a crumb-less eater in his car (he can’t help but watch, fretful and worried, when I have nibbles on road trips).

A member of our former archery league is a self-proclaimed universal hater. He invents new words and glories in the use of antiquated terms for people who are not like him. After particularly vituperative language bursts, the Spouse would say “Hey now, that’s not necessary.” I would say nothing because I didn’t know what to say. I’m a member of two, maybe three different hated groups . Instead I turned my back and disassociated, trying to be tolerant of this other way of life.

I don’t get to tell people how to behave in a free society. Do I?

Last week the Spouse and I realized at the same time but not together – simultaneous private musings fueled by kindred ethics I suppose – that we could not tolerate this any longer. Other members of the league have made their peace with this person’s perspective – or they agree with it. The Spouse and I cannot. We do not.

It happened for me after the hater used offensive terms to describe women, people of color, indigenous people, and gay people in one long sentence and no one, including me, said anything. I’m not cool enough to say “Oh hey now, that’s not necessary.” If I had opened my mouth I would have attempted to tell this person how to behave. I would have stripped him of his dignity to defend someone else’s.

I don’t get to tell people how to think and speak in a free society.

I do get to vote with my feet. The people in the group are good and nice with families and well-paid taxes and caring attitudes. But. I can’t be a part of a group that tolerates open hatred. I can’t tolerate it myself. I am ashamed it took me two years to recognize that staying was tacit approval. Thanks feet, for voting.


  1. Karen matsinger says

    I had a really great professor years ago who taught me that new tribes start when members, “vote with their feet.”

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