Cartoon courtesy of Hugh MacLoed at gapingvoid.com
Yesterday I read one of the most poignant, motivating blog posts that I can remember. The title is You, Less Than by Pam Slim, one of the writers at gapingvoid.com. I was already a fan of gapingvoid.com, but this post about had me on my knees. As I wrote in a comment to Pam, "I’m sitting here very nearly speechless and in tears. Trust me, it takes a lot for that to happen when I’m in front of the computer." In fact, I don't remember the last time that happened in front of the computer.
I'm not going to expound on the post because I want everyone I know, and everyone who reads my blog to go read it (the title is a live link). The basic premise is that there are circumstances that can make us feel like we are less than we are. Degradation of the human spirit is a multi-avenued tangle. Often what we feel is a product of what we allow ourselves to feel - we're a species that gets offended all too easily. To a degree, I concur with my friend Timothy that "no one can make you feel anything." That is so true... to a point. Where I disagree with him is that I feel that when we are subjected to some kind of demoralizing treatment over a period of time, we can't help but begin to question our own mettle. This is especially true if we are subjected to such treatment as a child.
It's no wonder we fear failure. It's no wonder we seek external validation. It's no wonder we lash out. It's no wonder we lack confidence and motivation. (And here's the Big But.) BUT, this is why you always hear me insisting that we need to be intrepid and tenacious, we need to realize that courage is simply the act of moving forward and has little to do with gut-level bravery, we need to rise above the moil and claim what we want and exclaim who we are. Our internal war against passivity and apathy is (and ought to be) constant and, as Thomas Jefferson said, "...the price of freedom is eternal vigilance." Bottom line, check yourself. Stop yourself and say, "Why am I reacting the way I'm reacting? Feeling the way I'm feeling?"
Yesterday a friend of mine started a Facebook thread asking for advice about some neighbors who had put their basket ball net up on her side of their shared driveway. She wondered if she was within her rights to say something. This wasn't their first rude behavior, so we were all up in arms. I hauled out my old "Peoples Gots No Damned Respect!" line. The responses were akin to a group of pitchfork carrying farmers gathering to do battle. We all were in a fair way to holler, "By all means! Say something to the bastards! Give 'em the whuppin' they so richly deserve!" Until... and this was so beautiful... until another friend of ours so adroitly and justly said, "Or, you could ask them if you can join their game." And for the second time yesterday I was nearly in tears. What a wonderful view of a difficult situation he had. He showed diplomacy at its finest. Comparitively, I felt like a neophyte for all the advice I'd given her. It was a great lesson.
Heavy stuff for a Friday, I know, but yesterday turned out to be a heavy day for me and I need to unload some of it. So, as you head into what I hope will be a wonderful weekend for us all, keep in mind the words of Henry David Thoreau: The question is not what you look at, but what you see.
We can't always be wise, be we can always be kind.
**Special thanks to TAK, TB, and JG. Good folks.**