Generally Speaking

Generally Speaking

By Blaney Pridgen

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views  and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser. 

In times past, I was in a position to encourage and select women to serve in capacities that were once traditionally held by men only.  I have always been fairly progressive in the matter. I am scrupulously inclusive with my pronouns and mix-up the “he and she” with “she and he.”  On occasion I’ll even use “she” in the place of ancient gender norms. Also “they” serve just fine in some singular references.  Generally speaking this is so for me.  But, then again, there are other occasions where moderation and conservative wisdom are called for and I don’t much care what other folk choose to do.

I remember carefully implementing a gradual introduction of women into a role where only men had heretofore served.  I could have added other similar roles as well but chose to implement one change at a time over an extended period.  I wanted to see how this would go and minimize the conflict. So, I was being, very generally speaking, progressive in this change.

One outspoken woman did not think so.  She firmly believed I should have moved quickly and totally.  She informed me with both barrels smoking.  I was a closeted chauvinist and cowardly leader, not the champion liberator she had imagined.  She concluded, “Sir, you have feet of clay!” She spun on her sturdy shoes and stomped away.

Well, generally speaking, she was wrong.  Generally, I was progressive, if not a champion liberator.  She had seized upon an occasion when I was careful not slow to change, which I initiated in the first place.

To my point, life is full of “generally speaking” which is almost always refuted by occasions that might suggest otherwise.  After all, general evidence might be in the 90% range or the 51% range but not total.  Who measures “generally speaking” anyway and why?

This can be a problem.  For example, we may hear that someone is generally a good person or good in some role and begin to see evidence of that ourselves.  Then, we might begin to wonder in what ways that person (not “he” or “she”) is occasionally less than good or even quite bad.  We might begin to uncover such evidence here and there and wonder if the general goodness is merely 51%. Generally is not totally and may be well south ofexcellent. Such wonderings andevidence-sifting can rob a pretty good person of a well-deserved pretty good reputation. The reverse is also true.  Some genuinely bad individuals can do something good every-now-and-then; that is, good in the sight to an outspoken minority. The less than good gal or guy may even do something really good or several somethings, worthy of praise by a majority.  This might render them generally good; yet, some will still see them as basically bad. Go figure.

I do not believe that anyone or anything is totally one way or the other in some total, absolute way.  Generally speaking, a geographical area can have a great climate, except for the occasional hurricane, tornado, volcano, or drought. The occasional rat and rattlesnake do not make a place uninhabitable.  Basically good folk have their low down secrets.  Basically bad folk can surprise us with a generous spirit and grace-filled activity.  Still, we need to give praise where praise is due and not ignore the habitually bad. Perhaps that which is adequate is a high enough bar and excellency is a bugaboo and even this mixed metaphor has something to say.

Back to the person I had failed.  Yes, I had feet of clay.  All I could say about that is my feet of clay are sometimes of the hard red “blackjack” variety, that is, not easily crumbled. In her case, I was surprised that it had taken her so long to notice.

By the way, with a big dose of clearly stated federalism and a reasonable portion of socialism, our democracy is “generally speaking” a very adequate form of government. 51% or better should call the shots. Abberations will appear from time to time and nothing is ever totally good for everyone, generally speaking.