I’m having a really lousy day. Last week, a minor problem erupted within the union board. Without going into too many details, I’ll just recount that I emailed my disagreement with the way the board’s president handled a particular matter. He emailed back how much he disagreed with me and how his position was correct. I responded that, of course, I did not see things that way but what’s done is done. He responded — and these emails are all going back & forth among the seven members of the board — that he has members to protect (as if I don’t) and he would do what he did again to protect them regardless of my objections. [There were also several other condescending emails from him in the interim — probably because I had made the mistake of attempting to temper my disagreement with him by kindly stating things like, “I’m confused as to why you would do such-and-such” as opposed to “Damn you for doing such-and-such.”] I responded that I wish he would check the pompous-ness at the door, that I know he acted out of good intentions, but that he needs to respect my opinion and that all of us act out of our duty to our members, he is not alone in that. He offered up this response on Saturday, which I did not receive until today:
For somebody who is done talking about it, you do carry on. Carper. Throw names about, and you get em back. You don’t like my position or the way I say things, so you decide its OK to be personally insulting. I am a little tired too, of the constant back biting. Basically, anything that has come out of my mouth the past six months, you have had a problem with. You got a problem with me personally, give me a call Monday, and we can both let our hair down. Pompous attitude indeed. You walk a mile in my footsteps, see where you are.
And that about does it for me folks. I have done my best to try to lead this massive herd of cats. But I have had just about all of the crap I am going to take. My cup is full. I will not be running for the Board in June.
So, wow. I sent the email to our past president (along with the rest of the email chain) and said that I didn’t understand where on earth he was coming from and was pretty upset. Past President imparted to me that Current President is losing his marbles, sexist and incorrect that I had said anything personal in my email to Current President. This felt better, but not great. After taking a couple of hours to determine how to respond, I replied that there was nothing in my email that was offensive, that Current President’s effort to blame me for his decision not to seek reelection was insulting, that Current President takes cruel and hurtful words from other board members without insulting them in return, that I do disagree with a lot of what he does — which means, of course, that he disagrees with me and when he does so, I do not throw insults at him. He has not responded. I believe he may be out of town, which makes his Saturday email — on work email — all the more infuriating. He tosses insults at me and knows that any response I have will be met with deaf ears for the time being.
Anyway, what is my point? It’s that I feel lousy. I know that this man is not a person I would ever be friends with or even know outside the context of us both serving on the union board at the same time. I know that I don’t really care what he thinks of me since I do not find him to exercise, or even have, good judgment most of the time. I know that I find him, in the words of another board member, to be a bit of a blowhard. I know that he is an unhappy man. I know that he thinks more highly of himself than he has any right to. But I also know me. And no matter how much I know, I feel hurt. I feel attacked. I feel bullied. And I feel alone in it all.
I have always felt that if you see someone being treated poorly and you don’t do anything, you are complicit in that behavior to some extent. Even when I was a kid, I never understood other kids who would say, in reaction to being told that a friend of theirs had been mean to another kid, “Well, she’s never done anything bad to me.” What possible difference does that make? Yeah, Idi Amin never did anything mean to me, either, but he’s a bad guy and I’m not going to be his friend. There are people who seem to act as though not getting involved is some sort of moral high ground, that not having people get angry with you is some sign of popularity or righteousness. I believe the opposite. I know I can do more and do better to stand up for the downtrodden, and I know that it’s not fun to get involved in arguments and conflict, but I do know that I always regret not doing something, not saying something more than I have ever regretted the opposite. I don’t want to live my life not getting involved.
I am not saying that standing up to Current President is the equivalent of taking down a militant dictator, but it’s voicing my opinion that I think something was screwed up. And my fellow board members’ silence — with the exception of one — regarding his email may be even more hurtful than the email itself.