Thursday, November 5, 2015

You don't count !!

“Feed a cold to starve a fever, but never argue with a ‘true believer.’” – Phyllis McGinley

“Tyrants cannot live with truth and survivors cannot live without it.”  -  Chrystine Oksana

     It is hurtful when we are rejected by someone we are close to.  Regardless of how we decide to view it -and even when we forgive the person we are left with an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of our stomach and a bad taste in our mouth.

     Recently I was having one of those “catching up on each other’s lives” conversations with someone close.  I asked them in detail about their work and was fascinated with their observations about some of the projects they are involved with.  After a while they in turn inquired about my life.

     I explained how incredible this journey has been – how God has turned up at every spot when I needed help.  I expressed how amazing it is to live on the intuitive and inspirational plane – and how much I appreciated God’s guidance.  They asked how I discerned what God’s guidance was.  I explained that I look to do the “next right thing,” and on those occasions that I do not have intuitive nudges I get the answers from others that I rely on.  

     They replied – with anger in their voice - that now I had forced their hand – that I had pushed them into responding with all this “God” talk.  There is no valid relationship with God unless – and next came the lines of rhetoric so common to the particular religion this individual is a devotee of.  For a second I thought they were joking, but it was quickly clear they weren’t.  The best I could do was to state that in no way did I question the validity of their relationship with God and steer the conversation to the welfare of their children.

      But to no avail - as far as they were concerned the conversation was over.  If I didn’t toe the line with their dogma and profess that their brand is the only valid one there was nothing to discuss.  Nothing valid could come from me.  The conversation ended, and although I had not said anything I regretted, I was unsettled enough that I sought counsel with several folks that I trust.

    One pointed out that no one can validate or invalidate my relationship with God besides God – nor can I anyone else’s.  Another pointed out what might be root causes of the fear behind this reaction and championed empathy.  So I was soon past the chagrin and able to examine the situation in more detail.

     I have learned that when someone else’s behavior disturbs me, it is some fear in me that is driving the disturbance.  Further, I have found that I am often secretly guilty of the same offense that has angered me.  So I have pondered further this notion of “invalidating” others.   I find it in the Carolina’s – when you want to ignore someone you just presume they are a “Yankee.”  If you are from New England and want to dismiss someone, you just say “Well, they are from ‘away.’”  On the North Carolina coast other people are “dingbatters.”  I am sure I will find more along the way.

     I heard another one the other day – it was about researchers invalidating the work of another person because they did not study at MIT, Stanford or Berkeley.  This is without even considering the work done or the results.  The list of things we use to discredit others is endless.

     Myself, when I see the young kid with the pants below his buttocks I think “street thug” and walk right by.  That person might be the one who a bit of friendship would help most.  The guy with the mirrored sunglasses in the Mercedes?  I can’t get away fast enough.  How about the Muslim dressed in their garb?  The Asian with the camera?  The street preacher, bible in hand searching for a convert?  Yep, right on by I go.

     This behavior says much about me and nothing about the one I would dismiss.  It says that I am afraid and that I am going to allow my fears to dictate my actions.  Maybe I fear that considering another point of view will in some way invalidate a pet belief of my own.  Perhaps I have been conditioned to see a particular group in a certain way.  Maybe I judge that they have nothing to offer one as great as me.  But whatever it is, I am the ultimate loser.  I miss chances to connect with my fellows, to learn, to grow and to help others on this same journey. 

     So I will speak kindly to the next street punk, to the next Muslim and Oriental photographer.  And I will continue to love the ones who seek to invalidate me.  But the Mercedes and the preacher?  Maybe next year.

Today, may I be genuine.

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We only get one chance to enjoy this day !!


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