Sunday, September 27, 2015

Parking Lots and other anonymous venues

What is it about parking lots? They seem to bring on the worst in people.

Honestly, do people who are probably perfectly reasonable people in real life become total jerks when they get into a parking lot. Or do the people who are actually jerks in real life just stand out when it comes to a space with defined parameters such as a parking lot.

Of course, it may also depend on the parking lot. The parking lot at the grocery store where we shop is one of the most ill-planned, ill-conceived parking lots in the world. Seriously, I have been shopping at this shopping center for years,and still, once a week as I look for a space I say out loud "Whoever designed this parking lot has a lot to answer for."  It is so strikingly badly designed that it hits you every time how awful it is, even after years.

I actually expect people to be disgruntled in this parking lot. This parking lot gives credence to those who believe in karma, or Feng Shui, or the laws of attraction, or just plain good energy vs bad energy.  This parking lot would be a great place for Dante's sign--Abandon Hope, all ye who enter here.

So, what is it that allows people to become or exhibit hateful behavior towards random strangers in a parking lot? I think, it's the anonymity. Anonymity is often used to be hateful to others. Now I don't get it, and you probably don't get it--but there it is. Some people are so immature and miserable in their own skin that being hateful to other people somehow makes them feel superior--andall the more so if it is done anonymously, so that it isn't someone who can actually tell them they are wrong and knock it off.

Social media acts this way too--people who wouldn't dream of saying bigoted, or racist, or downright mean things in real life can use the anonymity of social media to attack other people. Just last nght on facebook, someone decided that the profile picture I use of my late husband and I sharing a kiss looked like two men kissing. So I received messages telling me I was an abomination, God hates me and I deserve to die. Now, I am no stranger to being criticized for my appearance--I am after all The Fat Lady, and I was the Fat girl, strangers choosing to tell me how ugly they found me has always been part of my experience. But, I don't remember  being told I deserve to die before--simply because some old fool thought I was a man kissing another man. The worst part may have been the old fools profile picture-a man standing in front of a Cross wearing a clerical collar.

Now lest we think it is technology that has allowed this to flourish, let me share that those who have lived prior to the cyber get will probably remember the anonymity of slam books. What is a slam book, you younger folks might ask? Well, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and The Fat Lady was in junior high and high school, the mean girls (and guys) would take a spiral notebook and write hateful ugly comments about a person. This notebook would then pass from mean girl to mean girl and when it was full it would be slipped under the door of your locker or in your desk so that you could read just how ugly and awful and what terrible things you deserved to happen to you. All anonymously of course. So, the technology has changed but the intent is still there. Use anonymity to make yourself feel superior by bullying and humiliating someone who fits your description of "other".

It's wrong. It has always been wrong. But, unfortunately it has become more open--hell, even presidential candidates are doing it these days, and a certain segment of society is reveling in it and feeling like that gives them permission. So, those who would kill a man because of his skin color a hundred years ago are still around. Yes, they are still killing people, but they are also using social media to vent their hate. It's just wrong. And honestly, not enough of us who know its wrong are saying its wrong. When our politicians, our religious leaders are modeling hate--it becomes all too easy for those who hate to feel justified. AND IT IS WRONG!!!

Some days I think must have fallen asleep and awakened in a different universe. Or maybe I am just getting old,but honestly, I don't remember civil discourse being so polarized and divided when I was younger. People have always disagreed, not seen eye to eye on things from religion to politics to current events to sports. I think, back before we communicated through a keyboard we remembered that those we disagreed with were fellow human beings because we were looking them in the eye.It was possible to engage in spirited debate and still remain civil.

It is possible to have friends that you are diametrically opposed to what they support and still remain friends. I know this because it is true in my life. I have friends from all political and religious parts of the spectrum and we love each other. I think it maybe because while we can think the  person is wrong or misguided we can respect that they have the right to feel and believe what they do. We understand that people can honestly look at things and understand them differently. Different doesn't mean someone is right and someone is wrong, it simply means different.And, honestly, differences can be discussed without demonizing or marginalizing the other persons opinion. In fact, as members of society we should each make it our project to bring the civic conversations in this country back to this.Because, the truth is, words have power, and you have no way of knowing who you are hurting with your words.

So, whether it is the guy in the parking lot yelling at me because I parked in a regular parking space rather than the handicap space my license plate entitles me to--yes that happened--or it is some anonymous stranger on Facebook choosing to tell me I deserve to die, we need to stand up and say it is wrong. Knock it off.

Just knock it off. Yes, I know the people I really want to say that to won't be reading my blog...but honestly, it needs to be said.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Be Done With It

I have a bad attitude today. That is really unlike me, life is hard, but even though I struggle with depression, that is different than just being in a bad mood. So,needing an attitude adjustment I went looking through the files of things I have written, ands this one from 6 years ago spoke to me today.

So, here it is, letting go of yesterday and concentrarting on today--in other words remembering to live in the moment!!

Today's quote.... Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson~~ 

I don't give in to despair often. Even though I struggle with depression and a host of other health issues, I tend to be the cockeyed optimist most of the time. Sharing and teaching those around me that we have choices, and that our truth is that we author our own story. And I believe that, I really do. So, it was totally out of character for me to cry in frustration this morning. But I did.

Surprisingly, it helped. No, it didn't change anything, I still am desperately struggling. I still have no grocery money, no money to pay the electric bill...but crying actually helped. It doesn't make sense that crying helped, but I feel calmer now. 

So, even though I don't see how to change the end of the story, even though it seems impossible today, I choose to believe that this is not how the story is going to end. I choose to remember that I have to power to believe that. My faith wavered, and I cried. Turns out crying is good for you. Now that I am calmer I can remember that at any given moment I have to power to choose how the story ends. I can remember that even when I am feeling most out of control,something as simple as releasing the fears by crying can help me change the end of the story.

You know it is so easy to become cynical these days. Turn on the TV, check your newsfeed on Facebook, read a message board. Everywhere you look people seemed to have become mean, hateful, lacking the simple human qualities of compassion and kindness. It honestly doesn't matter what your political, or religious beliefs are you can find examples of people who just seem to have forgotten how to behave towards other people. If you are in a difficult situation yourself, it starts to feel rather personal. It starts to feel as if you just have no right to exist if you are down on your luck.

I admit that when things are going badly, it is so easy to feel overwhelmed.Believe me, I know! I know that when in the midst of troubles we are often at a loss as to how this could possibly turn out good. But I also know that we have the choice to believe that it will. I know that it is all too easy to believe that my life is harder than anyone else, that I am the only one I know going thruogh this much hardship. But the truth is every person you meet is struggling with something. Life is not easy for any of us. So we must remember to choose to live in the moment, to choose in this moment--to finish each day and be done with it!!! Moving on to the new day!!
Peace and Blessings

p.s. I dislike doing this but there is a paypal button over there, just in case. I told a friend who was embarrassed about asking for help that if we don't make our needs known how does anyone ever know we have needs. So, just as embarrassed, I am pointing out the button. Blessings.