Do you ever have those moments where you say something, and then realize based on other people's reactions or responses that you must not have phrased what you said very well? And then you try to explain what you were really trying to say, but it's just too late, and people are already worked up about what they heard (which again, wasn't what you were actually trying to say)? Has that ever happened to you?
It happened to me last night--I made a comment during the telethon for Haiti that I clearly must not have phrased well. My intent was to say something to the effect of:
'Haiti needs help, and its good to help Haiti. But New Orleans still needs help too, so as we're talking about Haiti, lets stop talking about the Katrina Relief Effort as something that's finished, because its not-due in part to the poor initial response. And it frustrates me that it feels like a lot of us have forgotten about New Orleans entirely, and that the press's response to Hurricane Katrina was (and is) dismal compared to the press' response to Haiti. It's GOOD that the press' response to the earthquake has been better than their response to New Orleans--but it still frustrates me that New Orleans tends to continue to be overlooked in the media. And I hope that we don't forget about Haiti as quickly as we forgot about New Orleans.'
But based on the reactions, what the others actually heard was something to the effect of:
'People in New Orleans are more deserving of aid than people in Haiti, and no one should give to Haiti until New Orleans is rebuilt, and all the media attention should currently be on New Orleans, rather than Haiti (even though the earthquake in Haiti was more devastating), because New Orleans is a local disaster, and local disasters are more important than international ones.'
Yeah, that was not at all what I was trying to say. I tried to explain what I really meant, but by that point, there was really no use. The others heard what they had heard, and I don't think all the explanation in the world could have convinced them that that was NOT what I was trying to say--I was called xenophobic, and all sorts of other things. They had already latched on to what they initially heard, and weren't interested in having a dialogue about what I really meant, even though I may have phrased my initial statement poorly [hey, this lack of sleep thing doesn't exactly make me the most articulate person in the world].
And that frustrates me, because not only do I feel like I'll personally be viewed negatively, but I feel like I've inadvertently perpetuated negative stereotypes--about Americans, about Christians, heck...even about blondes. Situations like this frustrate me so much...UGH. I still feel badly the next morning, because the others definitely left with the impression that I think NOLA is more deserving than Haiti, which is just not at all what I was trying to say. Ugh.