We should turn our back on the habit of shun­ning

Fort McMurray Today - - COMMENT - — Jim Mer­riam

Shun­ning was all the rage re­cently when a restau­rant in the U.S. re­fused to serve Sarah Huck­abee San­ders and her fam­ily be­cause of her job as mouth­piece for the Pump­kin Patch Pres­i­dent.

To avoid shun­ning might well be the best way in which mod­ern so­ci­ety should work. But … and it’s a big but.

Shun­ning is one of the few ways that the great un­washed can ex­press their opin­ions about one or more of our so-called lead­ers.

Turn­ing your back would seem a bet­ter op­tion than punch­ing the ob­ject of your dis­favour in the nose, wouldn’t you say?

For those of us who be­lieve San­ders is as hyp­o­crit­i­cal as her boss — there’s tons of ev­i­dence if you care to look it up — shun­ning seems al­most too good for her.

And since there are no real ways to get through to peo­ple pro­tected be­hind the shield of mod­ern pol­i­tics, it’s dif­fi­cult not to cheer on the restau­rants and other busi­nesses that take a stand against all the fibs, pre­var­i­ca­tions, dis­sem­bling and out­right lies that come out of the White House brief­ing room.

Yes, Sarah, we heard you re­cently when you said you re­sented be­ing called a liar, but you too should look at the ev­i­dence. It abounds.

The ar­gu­ment against shun­ning, of course, is that it re­duces de­bate to the low­est pos­si­ble level. How­ever, Trump, San­ders and their ilk have re­duced it pretty much as far as it will go.

His­tor­i­cally, shun­ning had its start and ap­pears to have been used mostly by re­li­gions.

Here’s an ex­pla­na­tion. Shun­ning can be the act of so­cial re­jec­tion, or emo­tional dis­tance. In a re­li­gious con­text, shun­ning is a for­mal de­ci­sion by a de­nom­i­na­tion or a con­gre­ga­tion to cease in­ter­ac­tion with an in­di­vid­ual or a group, and fol­lows a par­tic­u­lar set of rules.

Here’s more from Wikipedia: “Shun­ning is a form of dis­ci­pline against a per­son who has vi­o­lated church rules. Shun­ning in­volves a for­mal de­ci­sion by a church that bans in­ter­ac­tion with the per­son be­ing shunned.”

The ex­tent and du­ra­tion of the shun­ning vary among the var­i­ous groups that prac­tise it. Shun­ning is of­ten as­so­ci­ated with Amish and Men­non­ite groups, but it is also em­ployed by other churches. Cer­tain cults and tra­di­tional so­ci­eties (such as in Bali) prac­tise se­vere forms of shun­ning that can lead to whole fam­i­lies be­ing os­tra­cized from all as­pects of so­ci­ety.

Let’s get back to shun­ning in the sec­u­lar world.

The bak­ers who didn’t want to make a cake for a gay cou­ple were, in a way, shun­ning that cou­ple.

Also shun­ning is part of play­ground bul­ly­ing. Not only do bullies pick on and tor­ment their vic­tims, they can also lead the “in” crowd to shun the out­casts.

Trump, of course, is an old hand at this and has been in the process of shun­ning Canada and our prime min­is­ter, China, Euro­pean al­lies, etc. About the only folks Trump seems ca­pa­ble of deal­ing with are tra­di­tional en­e­mies such as Rus­sia and North Korea.

There is a tremen­dous temp­ta­tion to meet this kind of bul­ly­ing — and shun­ning — with more of the same. It might not be the way to ad­vance the cause of peace in our world. Nor would such ac­tions fol­low the dic­tates of gen­tle­ness and ac­cep­tance taught by many re­li­gions. All of which leads to the con­clu­sion that shun­ning doesn’t re­ally have a place in our mod­ern so­ci­ety.

But man, it must have felt good to see the Huck­abee-san­ders fam­ily have to leave that restau­rant with­out sus­te­nance.

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