What I’ve learned is that people are people. A complex web of to emotion, intention, and aggression. At any moment, any combination of qualities could appear. Experiences elicit different facets of people’s personalities. In a time of trial, when the pressure is on, true personalities express themselves. When all the bravado is taken away, the primal instinct man appears. With all the spit and fire that you can expect from an animal. This has been my experience.
That seems a bit harsh maybe but particularly with my family this is reality. I have found little kindness underneath the fake shell. That is disheartening because I have such empathy. I see grace and I try to be compassionate. This seems to be the abnormal behavior for my family. There is a single-minded, self-preservation mantra that allows them to steamroll everyone in their wake. This is not what we are supposed to do as humans. We are supposed to be kind and help your fellow man. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Isn’t that what we are supposed to do?
I have learned that I cannot bridge that gap. I cannot love enough for both of us. I can only give my portion into any relationship. If the other person doesn’t rise to the occasion, there is nothing I can do about it. This has been a hard lesson because I have always tried to put a little more in to fill the gap. At first, that seems to work but over the long haul, it is in vain.
People are what they are not what we want them to be or what we see they could be. That is a hard pill to swallow.
In November of 2001, getting into the car to take the kids to school, I kept hearing a cry. A cat crying. I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. I initially thought this isn’t a distress sound but I continued to hear it as when I came home. The sound was coming from our neighbors carport. Our neighbor Willie, a nice man, was in jail for something. No one at his home. I just couldn’t figure out where the kitty cries were coming from. I finally realized the sound was coming from the bottom of a hollowed out column in the carport. A cat had fallen into this open column. I called my husband at work and he said “What do you want me to do?”. Frustrated, I hung up. I called Animal Control. I explained the situation. The response I got was “M’am, if it isn’t your property, we can’t help you. We need consent from the homeowner.”
Really? The cries were getting fainter and fainter. I was crying uncontrollably. I wished my dad was there. He’d know what to do. Then it hit me I just ran into one of my dad’s friends the other day. He lives close by. I called him. He was on his way out the door to head to work. I told him my problem. He came over. By this time, I was on a chair throwing ham into the column to the kitty to let him know I was there & I was working on getting him out. After realizing that he’s in a 7 ft hole with a couple of inches space above the opening, my dad’s buddy made what looked like a noose. He threw it down. He ended up pulling him up by the neck. The cat was huge, but skinny. I hadn’t seen him in the neighborhood before. There were alot of kitties around but I had never seen him. When he came out I watched to see if he went to his home. He followed me. He was dirty & scrawny. You could feel his ribs. I took him to the vet. The vet said he appears healthy but he may have given up. He explained that if the cat has decided it was his time, no amount of medicine would help him. He told me to take him home & love him. If he eats, drinks & grooms, then you know he’s ok. This was such a bizarre concept to me. For a few days, Chris & I slept with him in between us. He had been eating and drinking a little but no grooming. On about the 3rd day, he woke up; he ate, drank, went into a grooming frenzy. He wanted to live.
A year ago, we took him to the vet because he’s a big cat & he was losing weight. They told us his kidney & liver function was just about gone. He had maybe 2-3 months. After that, he bounced back and although he was skinny, he played, loved, ate, drank & groomed. A few days ago, he stopped eating, today he stopped drinking. Today is the day he has chosen to die.
I love you Tigger! I will miss you so much! My heart hurts.
What I’ve learned is that you can keep going long after you think you passed what you believe is your breaking point. When people say they “don’t have it in them?” or they “can’t go on”, is in every sense of the word a cop out. The power and drive inside you can sustain any failure or weakness of the body. Once your mind is set, there is very little that can stop you. Moral fortitude and tenacity will carry you through the darkest of shadows.
It is so easy today to give up. We warn kids participating in sports program that losing is expected and to know that it doesn’t matter. What???? Are you serious? In the adult, real world, losing or it’s matured equivalent is NOT to be expected or accepted. You can’t take your boss a half-assed proposal or business contract and expect him to understand that you were having an off day. It doesn’t work like that. We have stopped trying to attain excellence in every endeavor and we teach kids that is to be expected. What??
Self-fulfillment and achievements are feelings that cannot be measured and therefore cannot be imagined until felt. That feeling once you achieve it is such a rush and feels beyond measure. That need for achievement should drive you through your lifetime. It is healthy that you try to one up yourself. It is the only way we can change the world.
So today I sat and pondered what I want to be when I grow up. This is something that has really eluded me for the majority of my 38 years. What do you love? History, helping people, law. What can you do to feed your family? That has a million answers but in the state of affairs in this country, you can’t think that a college degree will get you a job. Once upon a time, that was something that put you in demand. Now, the counter help at McDonalds may have a PhD. It is ridiculous.
In thinking about careers and jobs, what do I like? History. Writing. On that note, I looked into the graduate programs offered at Eastern Michigan University, where I am currently enrolled. I found the program that I think I want to pursue–Historic Preservation (Certificate program). The more I have poked into it the more find that I want to do it. So I applied. Please God. I think this is where I am supposed to be.
You’d think this is a rant. You would only be half right. It is the term used by Jay Bakker in one of the Revolution Churches posters. The sign reads: “As Christians, WE ARE SORRY for being self righteous bastards. Revolution: the Church for people who have given up on church.” How powerful of a statement! I got on this topic because I was reading another blog about God from Credo House Ministries. The mission statement of this group is to “ believe that God has called us to have a impact on the church and culture by taking back what rightly belongs to God – the mind. We live in a time of anti-intellectualism, skepticism, and confusion. Our goal is to reclaim the mind by energizing the church providing resources for intellectual engagement. In short, we seek to help people believe more accurately and more deeply today than they did yesterday by making theology accessible.”
So this brings back to Jay Bakker’s Revolution. It is particularly disturbing to me that churches are now businesses. Not just businesses–they are conglomerates with investors. Going back to my youth, a church wasn’t a business. It was a place that working people worshiped. Meaning the Pastor had a day job & he worked on the church in free time. The money from tithing went into the utilities of the church, as well as upkeep. The land was owned and the building was donated. The extra money tithed would go into a fund for a rainy day for the community. If Widow Jones couldn’t pay her light bill, kind of thing. In that realm of religiousity, you felt the hand of God.
Today that isn’t the case. Mega churches. Paid pastors with summer homes and winter cabins along side their Bentleys. Shame on them!! This is ridiculous! Are we at such a point that everyone’s needs are met and we should rejoice in the excess? No!!! That is not what God is about. All I can think is “As Christians, WE ARE SORRY for being self righteous bastards. Revolution: the Church for people who have given up on church.” This is ridiculous!
Everyone has their own beliefs and I am no different. I believe that my God hears my prayers daily. His grace carries me through the day to enjoy another. I believe he loves unconditionally. I believe we are happiest with less. Money and power absolutely corrupts all facets of the soul. My God tolerates my quirky behavior, knowing always that my heart is pure. My God also withdraws favor for arrogance and hatred. Notice that I didn’t say he punishes arrogance and hatred–he withdraws favor. What that means is that things don’t come easy for them. The road is rougher than those in favor of God. Doors that were once opened are closed; offers once given are rescinded.
Religion seems to be the problem with this situation. People are fixated on structure and constraints. Rules and exclusions to make the self-righteous feel better. There is no God in that. God doesn’t need that junk. After all the dogma and religious paradigm shifts, at the end of the day, it comes down simply to this: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Simple!
Funny how heritage seems to play a role in everything. You may not see it clearly at first, but everything you do is a culmination of your heritage–social, ancestral, spiritual, cultural heritage. How you talk, how you walk, the things you say are all a reflection of your heritage. I have become much more aware of this principle since we moved to Michigan. I feel a deep desire to reconnect with my heritage. What do I mean by that? I mean the feeling that is so palpable it is as if time has been stopped. The feeling of oneness with environment. The feeling that you are connected to the very ground of the place where you stand. It is difficult to explain to someone that has never felt this inner pull. The struggles and trials faced by the people of the past. It doesn’t even have to be family. You can just feel the pride in the land.
Needless to say, I feel a bit displaced away from that. I personally feel it in Birmingham, Pensacola, Wilkesboro & Louisville. Notice all are Southern places. I don’t know if that really is the common theme or if it is the happenstance that I have been to these places and developed an emotional attachment for one reason or another. That may very well be what it is. But I can tell you this, this feeling is only surpassed by the peace that can be felt with God.
Justice. Such a subjective term. Justice is putting away the bad guy who harms society. On the other hand, justice can be freeing an innocent person of a crime they didn’t commit. Lady Justice is always pictured with a blindfold, signifying justice being blind. In reality, that is not the case. She is not only blind, but deaf & dumb as well. Lady Justice is a force that has been manipulated for years. Laws are interpreted and punishments are passed out based beliefs of the party that finds guilt.
Somewhere along the way to enlightenment, we stopped caring about who is really guilty and who is really innocent. The assumption is that if the police arrested someone then they must be guilty. Case closed. What happens if that isn’t true? What happens if someone is arrested because they are participants within the circumstance of a crime–meaning they know the offenders and/or the victims. They have human interactions with these particular people which is distorted into motive and opportunity. We don’t all go around on our happiness cloud without strife and conflict. But if you know someone who was murdered and you have any kind of encounter with them–particularly negative–watch out because you are now a suspect.
Finding fault is the job of law enforcement. They live down to that expectation. The quest for justice is an illusion. Proximity and politics weigh higher on the scales of Lady Justice. Righteousness has no place in the law; innocence has no place in law. That tidbit of knowledge is not widely spoken of until you are exposed to higher learning of the legal system. Truth and justice for all is a perception of fairness or equality. The facts of the matter are that plausibility, culpability and disingenuous endeavors are what make up the law that we know today. The “good ole boy” system is alive and well and living on your tax dollars.
Take what you need. That was the post on the bulletin board at the Student Center at Eastern Michigan University. It was a flyer with tabs. The tabs for people to take were: Understanding, Comfort, Sympathy, Motivation, Love, Compassion, Hope and Faith. How wonderful would it be to be able to simply take what you need when you need it. Awesome.
Dave’s Words of Wisdom: Normal People Don’t Destroy Other Human Beings.: Hey, if someone treats you like crap, just remember there is something wrong with them, not you. Normal people don’t go around destroying…