In a world of seeming absolutes, Nature loves nothing more than to surprise us. Ice is always cold, except when it burns. Drugs, whether entirely from a single natural source or concocted in recipes of great scientific ingenuity, can heal, though the very same dose of the very same medicine makes one person miraculously hale again and kills another on the spot. The supposed Dead Sea has richer and more varied life forms than a multitude of other lakes and seas, while the so-called Sea of Tranquility is often enough a seething mass of storms.
And we gullible human beings, here in the thick of things, study deeply and grow wiser, yet can rarely tell the honest truth from a preposterous lie. May we learn, if nothing else, to know our limitations better and to show consideration for those whose ignorance is only naturally different from our own. And may we all remember our own imperfections before we devote any energies to defining and rooting out any others’.
I wrote the foregoing paragraphs quite a while ago, but am struck anew by the thought as yet another would-be Statement-Making evildoer commits an attack on innocents, this particular one today in Stockholm. How killing other innocent people, and usually in a barbaric fashion, is going to bring back the killer’s lost loves and goods, going to win hearts and minds to anyone’s cause, or even remotely change the world for the better for the attacker or anyone else, is absolutely impossible for me to fathom.
Throwing red paint on a fur coat wearer is going to make her say, “Heavens! It never occurred to me that a fur coat might offend anybody, let alone hurt the animal I took it from! I shall henceforth devote my life to protecting animal rights and the activists who promote them.” Really? Shouting epithets at anyone will make him think, “Good grief! You’re right! I will stop being brown/disabled/bisexual/elderly Right This Minute. What was I thinking?” Yeah. Just as easily ask the shouter to stop decrying Otherness. It’s natural for us to question, fear, or even dislike things that don’t fit our worldview, but why any of us would think it either our job or our right to change things that are intrinsic to who others are by birth or perforce is entirely beyond my comprehension.
You see me as dyslexic, as having Spasmodic Dysphonia (along with mitral valve prolapse, clinical anxiety and depression, hypothyroidism, familial tremor, and perpetual hot flashes), never mind all the others who have unspeakably more difficult and complicated conditions and experiences all the time—and you think we do this stuff by choice—for fun and entertainment? We take the meds, we do the therapies, we study and we pray, just as you say you do. As logical asking us to stop being this stuff as us asking you to stop wearing skin, to quit that wasteful use of resources when you insist on taking drinks of potable water, or to love the taste of cyanide.
I’m pretty sure that if there were a solution to this persistent, pernicious problem of human nature, any of the far wiser people than me would long ago have discovered it and the rest of the world embraced its practicality, if not its inherent goodness. Sorry to say, we are all broken and will continue to be damaged goods as a species as long as we have any kind of free will at all. But that doesn’t mean we should just stop trying to be better. It certainly doesn’t mean we’re off the hook for attempting decency and the simplest—if also most difficult—bits of compassion and insight we can manage in the here and now. I hope with all my heart that we can commit to at least that much.
Peace be with us all.
so true, so true, and so well articulated!
Thank you, my friend. I would so love to see the day when a post like this becomes unnecessary! Peace.
Kathryn, very well-written and on point. I would also say that while free will means evil exists in the world, the capacity for being better is a wonderful grace and I try to remember that when I read the news. So many people are trying to be better, want to be better and that is hopeful.
Precisely. I am grateful beyond words to know people like you who articulate the challenges and joys of living as mere mortals in this complicated world.
Great read, Kathy!
I’ve always celebrated everyone’s differences, as I’ve always said, if we were all the same, life would be very boring! I get that many things folks do aren’t what I think are acceptable, however also understand that many things I do may not be acceptable to others. I’m not religious, but am a Libertarian. I wish we all could do things that we want to do (that doesn’t harm others) and allow others to do the same without ridicule 😊
Would that it were so. For now, we just live out our tiny little bits of individual kindness and understanding when and however we can. 😉 🙂 Hugs to you.
Yes darling Kath, peace be with us all. The world is such an angry place and getting angrier by the day and it is us humans causing it all. I always say if we just had respect for one another, 90% of the problems would just cease.
Much love and hugs to you darling from a sunny SA. A happy day for me as my Pete got home last night for a 2 week visit. YAY!
🙂 Mandy xoxoxo
So pleased you get some quality time with your beloved! A rare treat. The privilege of being loved as you and I are, and of being in the company of great and gracious friends, makes it so much simpler to turn around and be decent to others…I suppose that the only solution, if the human tendency is to perpetuate what we are taught and handed by life, is to do our part to widen the influence of better things. Your sweet notes and hugs go a long way toward that for me!
I found this post refreshing! It reminds me of “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. It really is up to each of us to be respectful and act in kindness towards one another. It is such a wonderful, fuzzy feeling to meet people who are positive, compassionate and loving.
Almost as wonderfully fuzzy as being nuzzled by deer! (Or, as I enjoyed immensely during Spring Break, being cuddled by a pygmy goat!!!) I’m glad you enjoyed the post, my friend. 😀 xoxo
Your post so aptly brings to mind a Gandhi quote, “It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.” Always good to be reminded that we need to practice compassion towards one another, though it is sad that we still need such prompting.
I agree—pity that compassion is in such rusty condition in most of our lives. Gandhi himself might be the perfect avatar of human frailty as well as saintliness, if I’ve read my history correctly, and all the more admirable because he rose above his earlier failings to become such a light of more thoughtful, graceful, and kindly living to guide us through the darkness we as a race surround ourselves with so easily. Thanks very much for stopping by to remind me of this!
I’ve noticed for the quarter-century I’ve been coming to the Internet that a lot of online discussions quickly turn acrimonious. I attribute part of that to ignorance, part to misunderstanding, part to trolling. Even in sincere and well-informed discussions, differences in basic assumptions will likely lead to different conclusions. I don’t see any way around that.
Nope, it’s seemingly a hard-wired part of humanity that we should be so devoted to our own points of view that we easily let them become a matter of faith, our Truth, and license to say or do virtually anything without regard for others’ equally precious beliefs. Kindness and empathy are tougher commodities to find. I’m mighty grateful to be more-than-normally surrounded by the latter and left alone by the former!
Thank you! Stockholm is so beautiful, it’s hard *not* to take pretty pictures! 😉
Beautiful,Kathryn.You are full of grace.
That’s exceedingly kind of you, Kate—I can’t claim any grace, I think, except that which is showered on me: in *that*, I can claim to be very well-protected and blessed to even be able to contemplate things this way rather than struggle continually on the cruel side of them as so many must do. I count myself incredibly fortunate! May you be so blessed, too.