Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Unknown

     "You know nothing Jon Snow." The line used so many times by Ygrette in Game of Thrones. It symbolizes so many things, his true naivete, literal lack of knowledge, and also as a general reminder. The great thing about their love story is that Jon Snow understands and accepts that he knows what he knows, but he is so willing to learn more. Is Ygrette a little harsh in her delivery? Yes, but at the same time she allows Jon Snow to see for himself, to understand and to truly know what it is that drives her and many others. She does not simply tell him, she makes him see for himself. The fact that Jon Snow knows nothing is a true gift in the morally bankrupt land of Westeros. Admitting to knowing nothing is a vulnerability so many of us will never surrender to because we believe it is a weakness. Knowing nothing, does not mean you literally know nothing, it just means that you will probably never know enough about others and their experience to generalize, that you realize you are coming from a different place. For example, I am particularly sensitive when I read or experience something or someone trying to invalidate my emotions or feelings. One of the reasons it bothers me to no end, is because no matter how much you think you know, lets say about life in general, you will never feel or experience a problem or situation like someone else because YOU DO NOT POSES THEIR MEMORIES, EXPERIENCES, OR PAST ACTIONS. Why the shouting all caps? Because too many of us offer unsolicited advice and opinions, one of my biggest pet peeves. If you already experience low self confidence, a self-questioning nature, or host a rather-able large size of insecurities it only drives you mad and further down. I do not know enough about anything, it drives me crazy when people believe they do and commit the above grievance.

     I am bringing this up because it is the holidays. We are required to see family we spend a year trying to avoid, acquaintances at parties who are only acquaintances for a reason, and because of all the recent events in the news media. (And every snarky blogger/pundit out their with a damning opinion of everyone else but themselves....because, damn it, the masses just do not get it. Hello Grad School, we meet again?) I just want us to take a step back this holiday season, or dismount our proverbial high horses and lets think for a moment about our society as a whole. Taking a step back and gathering all that is out there, reflecting on how it effects all of us in our own way and back off our "well intentioned" gestures. Because, when it comes down to it, intentions mean nothing when you end up hurting or trashing someone by trying to make  yourself feel better or better than.

      We live in a society that shames not only overweight and obese women, but fit and slim women as well. We live a society that chides women for having  having an epidural or bottle feeding, as well as for nursing in public. We belittle men we feel are not manly enough, but then complain about how emotionally unavailable they are. We complain about our materialistic ways while sitting in our house on our smart phones, with televisions on in the back ground, judging others who are just trying to get what we take for granted. We incessantly judge those we deem should "know better" when we actually have no idea what they do or do not know. When we actually know nothing about one another. By criticizing, giving advice when not asked for it, or doling out our "humble opinions" we are invalidating everything the other person is experiencing or feeling.

    I harp on all of this because we are a society as a whole. Yes there are differences, but that does not mean differences equal something bad. Being a productive and upright citizen of our society means that you can encompass the whole while not losing your true self, all the while navigating your way kindly through those who also enjoy the  privileged of living in our society. Purely because you realize you know nothing. Therefore, you do not get to dictate how others go about their business. You do not get to make them feel less than you because they chose a different path or have lived a different life. (Or because you feel you know a truth they do not, or because they were born into a different situation) Lording your greatness over others is one of the biggest weakness in the human race. It does not come from strength or intelligence. It does not come from passion or righteousness. It comes from weakness, intolerance and ignorance. Making others feel bad for being themselves, intentionally or unintentionally, is not a good thing. Kindly helping them understand if asked, being patient, or knowingly just being their yet silent is more powerful than trying to direct their course of action. Because in the end, it does not matter what you know or what you do, if you are truly trying to help or bring about change, it only matters if you can embrace the "wholeness" of everything, the mess and the good, and reconcile it into something productive. Forget what you know, because this life all around us is rarely about us. Being aware of our unknowing can open a host of opportunities to reach out, to recognize, and  to finally understand what makes our neighbors tick, or family work, and our lives move forward. Realizing that we do not know will always be more powerful than truly believing that we do.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Art of Living: It Requires Compotence

           Lately I have been horribly stuck. So many thoughts, too many things to write about. I tried to write a post after the election, but could not because as angry as I was about politics, I could not put my finger on what exactly was upsetting me. However, after listening to an NPR interview yesterday with Bernie Sanders it finally came to me, clear as the cold crisp morning I find myself writing this on. One point he made during the interview, in relation to our last election cycle, had to do with how the candidates ran against each other. He aptly pointed out they were not running on ideas or calls to action, but who could shoot better, who knows how to castrate pigs, and a host of other ridiculous notions that have nothing to do with anything going on in our nations capital. This gets to the core of my anger, at our politicians local to federal and at my fellow citizens. I am tired of feeling like I am better than the people who are essentially running my life. And so should you.

         This phenomenon is happening at every level of government. In my city, there are stories highlighting the juvenile antics perpetrated by our alderman, without embarrassment or remorse I should add, almost every day. Just today, the same newspaper quoted our state's assembly Speaker Robin Vos dissing the new owner of the Milwaukee Bucks simply for greeting the President of the United States of America. Then you have said President of the United States of America posturing with the legislative side of our government, like a bitter disrespected uncle, with the our congress posturing back like a 5 year old child being asked to wear something they irrationally disapprove of and threatening their said disrespected uncle with a giant tantrum. However, the giant tantrum effects not only the uncle but the whole entire world. But whatever. We are fine with our politicians behaving like silver-back gorillas and screeching harpies. As long as they hit the center of the target in their crappy campaign commercials, know how to castrate pigs, threaten others or make a poor effort at disguising how rich they actually are when they pander to the middle class and poor. (Yeah that last one was aimed at the Democrats) They do not get off on telling us their plan, giving us their call to action, or making a compelling logical and reasoned argument for their moral standards or ideology. Somewhere along the way, we stopped demanding competence and started being entertained by their plan to destroy their opponent, and relish in  their hatred of said opponent.

          My anger resides in the fact that we are ignoring the problem, or problems, that are very much plaguing our society. The problems that realistically have the potential to create utter catastrophe. These problems cross party lines, lurking in every corner of the world. And, may I ask where are we? What is our government doing to protect us? That is a big fat nothing. They are participating in their own soap opera of playground fights, cliques, and childish antics. The scary part, is that sometime a long long time ago in a far away land, the first sparks of civilization were lit. Hunter-gatherer Tom realized that himself and familial unit had a better chance of survival and perpetuation of species if he got together with hunter-gatherer Dick and his group. After a while hunter-gatherer Harry, was like, "Whoa, I gotta get in on this. My favorite breeding partner was just killed by a saber-tooth tiger, and Tom and Dick seem relatively safe in their larger number, so I better join them." Thus, the very simplistic and short version of how civilization began. So, what they realized is that they would have to compromise and cooperate a certain amount to live a much safer life, with the happy possibility of a more consistent food supply, relative to what they had. What I am hearing from our politicians, locally and at the federal level is that on the cusp of 2015 we not longer can, nor understand how to do this and that the masses are really cheering this on. Furthermore, they cannot even act with a modicum of decency towards each other in the process. Which is why it can no longer happen in the great United States of America, the original "government by the people, for the people and of the people." Or, did Lincoln have that wrong 150 years ago after we slaughtered our brothers, cousins, and neighbors for what? Oh yeah, rigid, uncompromising, horse manure ideology.

         For my whole adult voting life, I keep hearing things like, "Well, I am going to vote for so-and-so because he/she seems cool. Like I could really sit down and have a beer with them." That statement makes me want to vomit. There is fine line between relate-able politician and crazy drunk guy who has no composure. Who sounds like the dufus he/she is. Listen, I love getting beers with my friends, but that drunk guy hitting on us better not be my local politician. Unfortunately it seems to be getting a little too real. (Ahem Palin Family brawl, politicians with colloquial speech and mannerisms that just scream "Hello world, I am Hillbilly Dan from BFE, I care not about anything but my own grandiose ideas and nature) I want my politicians to be better than that. No more Huey P. Longs, no more Senator Joseph McCarthy's. NO MORE HICK DEMAGOGUES. What has your politician done for your community or yourself lately. How did they go about it and who did they alienate? I am happy that the crazy mom on the corner identifies with Sally Anderson, the candidate for the local election, but Sally Anderson is crazy, has identified herself clearly as crazy. Surely that is off-putting to crazy mom on the corner? Bachelor business owner Bob totally understands where misogynistic candidate Greg is coming from, he hates the rest of his platform, but Bob can totally get behind Greg's belief in where the woman's place lies. Despite the fact the Greg is an utter idiot, he will still get bachelor Bob's vote.

           My wish list, for politicians consists of intellectual curiosity and honesty. Articulate, well spoken, and genuine. What I am tired of, are the chest thumping ignoramuses and the screechy cave women who are the antithesis of statesmen and women. They have been hired by the American people to perform a job, I could care less if I want to sit down and have a beer with them. That is the least of my worries. I want them to be better than me. I want them to be better than you. They have an important job. I am tired of going to work everyday, then coming home and realizing that I have navigated the terrain of daily life better than the people who are running the country, our states, and cities. That I have treated people more just and civil. That I not only had to compromise at work but also at home, for the sole purpose of making both entities run the best possible way. Realizing that because, even though I had to give up on something, in the long run it will ascertain better results for what is most important. And if you are reading this, think of all the things you have done today, yesterday, the week before, to get your business, the company you work for, or your family to run successfully or to keep your life running smoothly. Because, being a statesman is not about blindly falling on your sword to rest on your laurels, or protect a rigid ideology when said ideology was not meant to be rigid in the first place. It is not about relating to a candidate on a personal level, it is about picking someone who is going to do the best job possible. It is about reconciling everyone's needs, wants, and desires to create the most beneficial outcome for all. If Tom, Dick, and Harry, in their finite hunter-gatherer minds can realize this, I am at a loss as to why modern day American politicians find the concept so difficult. Be better than that-