Toleration Moderation

I’m tired of nasty people.

Really just sick and tired of people whose mothers apparently never taught them, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.” Maybe mama taught them, and they’ve simply forgotten. We’re suffering a nationwide, maybe worldwide, case of amnesia. We’ve forgotten how to just be nice.

If I’m supposed to be learning from people spewing vitriol at other people – strangers – because they object to something about that person, it’s just not happening. It causes me to shut down, not learn. I reach a point at which I’m no longer even engaging with the person. I’m heartbroken, disgusted, infuriated, and I’m gone.

I stand firmly with Kahlil Gibran on this. If I’m supposed to be learning from these people how not to behave in the world, then I’ll pass. I want to learn by example from people I respect. I want to feel good about people again. I want to feel like the universe is a friendly place again. I want to feel like we’re going to be okay.

I fear we’re so far from okay right now, especially in this country, that we will never find our way back, or forward, for that matter. Now that we know just how awful some (I hesitate to say most, but that’s what it feels like lately from where I’m sitting) people can become at the least provocation, how do we feel safe talking to strangers again? How do we engage with friends and family members who have shown us who they really are? How do we become less divided if we can’t even talk to each other for fear we will be abused?

Is there a middle anymore? Doesn’t feel like it. I can’t imaging bridging the divide between myself and someone who feels it’s not only okay, but their right, to snipe at someone they don’t know online, using the most offensive anger-fueled language they can think of. I’m supposed to be tolerant of that? I’m to learn kindness from that? Someone spewing abuse at someone for doing their job? Really?

No.

Just NO.

It’s not okay, and it can’t be tolerated. It doesn’t teach me anything. It breaks my heart, makes me angry, makes me afraid. These folks are not my teachers. They are destroyers, not creators. They are not people I want to emulate. There is a way to get your point across without being mean. It seems though, among many lately – especially online – that meanness is celebrated. The meaner the better. If you can demean someone online, using the cruelest possible language, especially someone in power – someone you don’t know – the better you feel about yourself.

That’s the very definition of bullying, isn’t it? It’s like the whole country is back in school, and the bullies are running the show. How did that happen? When did it start?

How do we stop it?

I’m in the not unusual position lately of knowing who I would like to be – tolerant, compassionate, kind, disciplined, responsible – but I can’t see my way to that person in relation to others. What would Buddha, or Ghandi, or Martin Luther King, Jr. do? What would Jesus do?

It just kills me that many of these folks claim to be “patriots,” and that many also profess to be Christians. Pretty sure Jesus would be shaking his head, too. The Founding Fathers and Mothers, too. Really – is this what countless men and women have fought for? The right to be mean?

No, sorry. Nowhere in the bible does it say it’s okay to be mean. The Golden Rule doesn’t say, “do unto others before they do unto you.” Jesus didn’t say “be nasty to your neighbors as to yourself.” The great leaders – those who inspire us – are all about love.

Those are my teachers. The folks who are kind, compassionate. Those with empathy.

The rest have nothing I want to learn, and I am most decidedly not grateful to them.

Looking ahead

My optometrist, the guy I have been going to since I was 14, has retired. I don’t blame him – life is short, he’s worked hard all his life and deserves a rest – but it means I have to find someone new. Ugh.

I’m not as good at new as I used to be, and frankly, I wasn’t great at it to begin with, especially when it comes to people. However, if I want to get new glasses, which I definitely need, I’m going to have to make my way into the Land of Change. Ack.

This is a small town, so there aren’t many optometrists to choose from, so my decision, once I decide to make it, should be relatively easy. So why do I keep putting it off? I’m a big girl. I’ve experienced A LOT of change in my life, especially in the last year and a half. It should be getting easier, but I think it’s the opposite. I feel increasingly that I have very little in life, and very few people, that I can really count on. Nothing seems solid, and while I would like to be more fluid, I just am NOT. I want to feel safe, and NEW never feels safe.

Sometimes it’s exciting – new bike, new clothes, new book, new restaurant – but it’s never safe, and that seems to be my overriding desire now. When it comes to people and life, uh…for me, lately, new seems very scary.

Now, I know there is no such thing as safety in this human life, but that doesn’t stop me from desiring it. Just like knowing sugar is bad for me. I have to make a choice to resist. Same with safety. Being safe isn’t going to get me anywhere. Change is a constant and growth is the goal. That’s what I believe about life, but it’s not the way I really want to live. LOL! I don’t have any illusions about that. I’m not a free spirit. I’d like to be, but like brown hair and freckles, that’s not what I got. I may have been like that at one time, but life has worked it out of me.

It’s like that for everyone, isn’t it? Life will break you, no matter who or how you are, and as it turns out, that’s a good thing. What’s the Leonard Cohen song about the cracks being where the light gets in? It doesn’t feel like you’ll survive the breaks, and it’s certainly not a given that you will. If you do, however, for better or worse, you will be changed, and it’s ultimately up to each one of us how that change shows up in our lives.

Life has taught me that most of the time I have to be brave to have what I want. There have been plenty of times when I wasn’t brave, and those times have occasionally left me with regrets. When I was able to overcome my fear of change, good things happened mostly, even though at the time they may not have appeared to be what I wanted or intended. Life=Paradox.

So now I have to be brave and call a new optometrist and make an appointment. And then I’ll have to actually go to the appointment and meet a new person and learn to trust him. Today that seems overwhelming, but it might not seem so tomorrow, so we’ll see. <—- (See what I did there? Optometrist. Ha!)

Uncategorized

Who’s with me on this?

So the last 18 months have been a real cluster, haven’t they? Cuz life isn’t hard enough, right? Let’s throw a pandemic into the mix!

And where the hell have I been? Well, I’ll tell you. Right. Exactly. Where. I. Was. 18. Months. Ago. Still at Acme Health Services, still caring for my mother, and still just trying to keep going. Nothing has changed, and yet EVERYTHING has changed, hasn’t it?

Working in public health has definitely changed. We have been Public Enemy #1 since March of 2020, and it gets worse day by day. For the first time in my life, I’m afraid to tell people where I work, and I’m afraid to be at work. We have beefed up security in all of our buildings, but I am watchful in the parking lot, and fearful for my co-workers who are working outside the office in off-site vaccination and testing clinics.

I’m not even going to mention the abuse our agency has been taking on social media, and on our information and scheduling phone lines. Oh, I just did, didn’t I? Well, it’s unbelievable. Previously unimaginable to me how vile people can be to people they don’t know; people who are just trying to do their jobs. As I am the social media manager, I’ve had to field most of the crap-slinging on Facebook, and it has definitely gotten to me. I don’t take it personally, cuz the people who are commenting are hurling abuse at an entity they feel is ruining their fun, not me personally. I get that. Still it has had an effect.

It has changed my view of my fellow human beings profoundly.

That whole “everybody’s doing their best,” thing I used to write about all the time? Yeah, not so much. I know better. For a while it really did a number on me. I took a lot of vacation time this last year, including 3 weeks in July. I needed those breaks in a way I have never experienced before. I’ve been working since I was 14 – 46 years – I have never felt that depleted at any job, including this one in the last 21 years.

I’m ready to leave my job, and my country, but I’m not sure it would necessarily be better anywhere else, and I can’t leave my mom, anyway. She is steadfast in her desire to stay right where she is. She’s got it good, after all. She doesn’t leave the house, and she has a full-time housekeeper/servant. Mostly she lays on the couch, watches TV and plays solitaire on her phone. Why worry?

I worry.

A lot.

I worry about the future of this country. I worry about my future and my health. I wonder how I/we go on from here, knowing now how divided we are and how utterly horrible, self-centered and gullible people can be. I worry about our beautiful mother Earth, and how long greed will rule. I worry about whether I’ll be able to retire given the recent news about Social Security and the fragility of the stock market.

There is plenty to worry about, and not much hope to hang on to. The things that used to bring me joy are gone for the most part, either because of the pandemic restrictions or due to the time constraints of having 2 full-time jobs. Now the weather has started affecting the one thing I had through the summer to look forward to – being out on my bike – but I’m making the transition to indoor riding on Zwift and BKool again this fall, and that’s almost as good.

I’m hanging on as best I can, to life and to hope that things will get better, not worse, which of course is just as possible. Everyday I get out of bed and try again. Try to be kind. Try to be effective in my work. Try to keep my mother happy and healthy. Try to do my best in every moment.

I’m not always successful, but I try.

And really, what else is there? The saying is that it doesn’t matter how many times you fall down, just that you keep getting up. So that’s what I’m doing. I fall 20 times a day, and then I get back up and try again.

How are you doing?