Phantom-fighting is all the rage.

“I know a lot of people think saluting the flag is unpopular now, but I’m willing to shoot each and every one of them right square in the nutsack to prove I’m an American!”

“I know a lot of these guys just want to be able to take a bath in bullets, shoot foreigners, and pretend the Civil War was actually won by the South, but I, for one, am going to take a stand against that kind of madness.”

(and those are really tame examples!)

Doesn’t matter what direction it’s coming from. Doesn’t matter what direction it’s going.

These imaginary creatures are just phantoms. They’re not real people.

Real people have real emotions. They care about a variety of things. They do love some things and hate some things, but by and large, real people like being allowed to live their lives and allow others to live their lives. Real people listen to each other and find ways to make it work. They don’t do this because they’re forced to by a social contract — they do this because it just makes more sense than being a fucking ape*.

I don’t like the phantom-fighting. The phantom-fighting saps our strength. It’s meaningless. It artificially creates a conflict where there isn’t one, just in order to foam up some sort of response.

“Well, I know a lot of people seem convinced God doesn’t exist, but…”

“Oh, I’m sure all those idiots in their pickup trucks are going to just drive downtown with all their guns and…”

These aren’t real people.

They’re phantoms.

If I disagree with someone, I want to talk with them about it, to see what they’re thinking, to see if maybe they have a point or not, and to share my own viewpoint if it makes sense to do so.

Or maybe I won’t bother. No sense in fighting every battle, right? I mean, who’s got the time for that kind of fun? I presume we have other things in common that we can talk about.

I get it. I understand. Interacting with real people takes effort, and not all people are reasonable and/or worth the effort. You just have to make that call on your own.

But phantom-fighting? Imagining an atrocious enemy instead of an ordinary person with whom you disagree?

That’s just shadow boxing.

It’s not an act of kindness, intelligence, thoughtfulness, or bravery. I’d suggest it was exactly the opposite.

I guess one can engage in such a thing if one wishes, but it’s like walking into a room filled with people who are all there for the I Punch Myself Wildly Anonymous meeting: it’s unlikely you’ll change the tenor, and very likely you’ll get a shiner** for your efforts.

* I’m using “ape” in the vernacular, to describe an uncouth boorish person. No offense to ACTUAL apes, who are also fairly peacable creatures. I’m using “fucking” in the intensifier sense — not in the sense of “engaging in an act of sex.”
** not to be confused with “Shriner.”