Friday’s Focus—Taking It Down a Notch

You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please everyone all of the time. —John Lydgate

One day, when I was very young, I went over to a friend’s house after school. We were playing outside when two sisters from the apartment next door came over to play, too. They were more her friends then mine, but when I met them once or twice before, we all got along fine. On this particular day though, I still don’t know what exactly happened, but all of a sudden, there were whispers behind cupped hands, and the sisters were looking me up and down. Pretty soon, words were exchanged and adding to my confusion, the friend I was originally playing with, turned against me and joined them as they made fun of me and now mocked me outright. Confused, shocked, hurt, and in tears, I rode my bicycle home and in between sobs told my mother what happened. I can still remember what she told me: “Honey, it’s not nice, and it’s not fair, but there will always be someone who doesn’t like you.”

Unfortunately, such behavior is not regulated to the whims of children and playgrounds. Even as adults, I’ve seen how you don’t even have to do anything for someone to find a problem with you. It can be the color of your skin, the style of clothes that you wear, even the kind of dog you have. You could be breathing too hard, laughing too loud, scraping the fork too loudly against a plate (yes, I’ve actually heard these).

As a basic tenet of decent humanity, we are asked to hold our fellow beings in love and light. We can all do that on our best days, but can we also do that on our worst days? It’s easy to find the goodness in people and situations when life is going your way, but what happens on those days when things aren’t going so smoothly or there’s always something in the way of you doing what you need to? Suddenly that deep love toward your neighbor has turned into shallow, ego-driven, back-biting judgement:

The cashier yesterday who was so sweet to ask about your sister’s illness, today is a busy body who can’t mind her own business.

The bank teller who was so efficient and succinct is now cold and unfriendly.

The gas station attendant who was full of jokes last week and humorous observations, now just talks too much and doesn’t know when to shut up.

Why does she have to wear that?
Why does he have to walk like that?
Why are they in our neighborhood?
She shouldn’t; he should but no, not them; they shouldn’t be doing…

It’s amazing how we have become a society of tearing apart our own fabric of being by micro-moralizing and pitting our individual preferences and beliefs onto the person or group next to us. I’m afraid that this level of dislike and distrust has become so ingrained in our psyche that our judgements against friends and strangers, alike, is now rooted in our subconscious to the point that we don’t even realize we are doing it anymore.

We criticize and judge groups and organizations for finding fault with everyone that is not of part of them, but what we don’t see are how we are those groups when we judge those in our own circles. We’re becoming numb to the lack of respect in the differences that make up all that we are as individuals and societies. I personally know that there are pockets of people who hold spaces of unconditional love, peace, and grace and are working toward unification and healing rather than tearing apart and destroying each other, and in this, I take great hope and inspiration from them. But it’s not enough. We need more than just pockets.

I also believe that it’s the media’s perpetuation of granting attention to these squeaky wheels that has helped facilitate the hate, disdain, and repugnancy of differences into a level of micro-moralizing that has reached epic proportions. Taking it deeper and looking back through history, there have always been separatists whose actions were, and are, rooted in fear and ego. As long as humans have existed with each other there has always been fighting and warring, but there has also been peace and amiability and fairness. I think that at this time in our history, human beings have tipped the scales of acceptance versus dissension and not in a good way. Everyone is screaming for their right to individuality and there’s nothing wrong with that but I think it’s gone too far.

We need to find ways to bring out the best in each other not the worst. It’s not too late. Yet.

#takingitdeeper

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Blogging From A to Z: Tenacity

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I believe that tenacity is a very important trait to have. Maybe it’s the scales in my astrological chart but I strongly believe in the underdog and admittedly I have a deep need for balance and justice, which tends to call in my tenacious nature.

I don’t look at being tenacious as being a bad thing. In Latin it means to hold fast, and I believe in holding people and companies accountable for what they say and are supposed to do. It’s not about being right but rather it’s about being ethical, moral, standing by one’s word, and really just doing good business.

I especially become dogged and steadfast when it comes to insurance companies, healthcare, banking, and Internet providers (!) and can be fiercely tenacious when it comes to family and friends. In matters of business, it’s not that I am inflexible when mistakes happen, but when it’s clearly evident that the mistakes are the result of sloppiness, miscommunication, and poor training that get me. In business, I’ve noticed an increasingly pathetic disconnect between the proverbial right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing with misinformation and lack of follow-through rampant.

I have a deep understanding of another person’s shoes almost to the empathic level but sometimes being understanding just doesn’t cut it. I realize that the downsizing in companies can result in a lack of drive to do a good job for those who are left but I think more of a factor is that so many people are overstressed and overworked and there is no real training made available to employees anymore, that those who are left to work can’t help but end up playing a crucial role in widening the gap of disconnect.

People have called me bitchy and obstinate to which I say thank you, because if that’s what you want to call someone who holds fast onto doing what’s right and fighting against inaccuracies, miscommunication, and lack of caring, then go right ahead. Being tenacious can be something like a superpower in that it can be used for good or evil: holding people and businesses accountable or it can be used as harassment and unrelenting obstinacy. Like the Avengers, I choose the former.

Is tenacity your superpower or does it still need to be summoned? I embrace my inner superpower and celebrate it in today’s “T” post. Embrace your inner tenaciousness and take your inner superpower deeper!