I am very guilty of eating my own shoes. Opening my mouth contrary to my vulnerability and gentle nature and letting it all out there. I have been cutting recently at the root of this issue, but there you have it. I still do it on occasion. One great place for it to happen is in discussions of religion and politics on a social network.
You see, there is a certain level of anonymity on the social networks, bio pic not excluding. I don’t have to face the person who I am talking with, so it’s easy to sling a barb. I can’t see the hurt in their eyes, or hear it in their voices. I can ignore the next comment, and feel like I came out on top. I can sarcastically point out flawed logic, lousy sources, the hate, the racism, the ideology, dogma, and I fall into the trap of saying, “See, I was right.” So what if I’m right? That’s only pride talking. It does nothing to develop unity or gather the ideas from those I deem “wrong” to help solve problems. That is not at all beneficial. I can be right, but I can be dead right, and I just might meet that neighbor at the next disaster and need to count on them, or want to ask the guy I just offended to donate to a nonprofit, or support my web page or business Facebook page.
I have spent much time in trying to be right. For that I have regret. For me being right was a sense of control, a sense of power. Those qualities are hardly wrought from mere intellectualism. They are better hammered in the furnace that creates character.
So I am faced with doing right, which is a different arena than who is right altogether. Like a Venn diagram, the intersecting section is a person. How am I connecting by proving I’m right? Or am I staying disconnected? What does it look like to be locally and globally connected?
Who can I help today? Who can I compliment today? Who can I share joy with, be excited for? For example, locally, if I meet the director of the last play I was in, I can ask how he’s doing. What’s he involved in? I can show an interest in his life. Globally, via the aforementioned social media used constructively, I have some Israeli friends who are blues players, and wanted to attend the International Blues Challenge in Memphis this year. Their fundraiser met its goal, and in a very crowded competition, they made it to the semi finals. After it was over, they traveled to Chicago and played in one of the oldest blues joints known, B.L.U.E.S. on Halstead, and after that they met with the Israeli Consulate General for the Midwest, Roey Gilad. I was thrilled for them, and told them so, all via the “interwebz machine” we all love so much.
I don’t necessarily need to be tackling the big issues of the world. I find that in my certain locale, there are people with needs all around me. What can I do to help them, what can I do to help myself included, live better lives? How can I reduce suffering? What can I do to stop killing (even bugs), lying, stealing (credit for ideas and similar thefts), gossiping, criticizing, discouraging, craving, grasping, attachments, well, I’m sure you get the idea. The change always starts with that person looking back at me from the mirror. Annoying, isn’t he?
If I can focus on doing right, it will matter far less who is right, if at all. Because everything is impermanent, I would rather be in the position now of being interdependent with my neighbor in finding solutions to our local challenges and develop a dynamic relationship that can result in fluid solutions in a constantly changing environment. At the end of the day, I for one sleep much better, not when I have proved I am right, but after having spent a day knowing I have done what is right. And I don’t have the taste of shoe in my mouth….