This one’s radioactive! (Please remember the magnifying glass is already pointed at me so…) Question: When I reflect on my life before I felt it was important to check the news cycle every few minutes was I happier? Answer: Hell yes! The steady stream of “information” is not critical to my happiness. So why have I been acting like it is?
If junk food is defined as “food” that is high in calories but low in nutritional content then the term is a perfect match here. When I am truly honest about where most of my mental capital has been spent over the course of the last few years, I have to admit it has been wasted on the equivalent of mental junk food. If only I were talking about watching cartoons all the time, or videos of peoples falling down. No, I’ve been much more sinister. I’ve been justifying my beliefs. I’ve been finding evidence to prove I’m right. Mostly, I’ve been looking for ways to prove people I love and care for are wrong. It’s eaten away at me, and it has to stop!
The purpose of this blog is simple( “Better, Stronger, Faster” ): Documentation of “a commitment I have made to myself to become a better version of me. When I say that, I don’t just mean in some figurative or nebulous way. I mean it in every way possible. I mean it about myself physically and mentally, professionally and privately. I intend to be a better friend, and better with my family. I mean it in both qualitative, and quantitative ways. If there is a way to improve me, I’m doing it.”
I think I’ve been very true to this mission…to a point. However, the elephant in my living room lies in the line, “I intend to be a better friend, and better with family.” In this, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have failed worse.
The Sneetches- By Dr. Suess
“Now, the Star-Belly Sneetches Had bellies with stars. The Plain-Belly Sneetches Had none upon thars. Those stars weren’t so big. They were really so small You might think such a thing wouldn’t matter at all. But, because they had stars, all the Star-Belly Sneetches Would brag, “We’re the best kind of Sneetch on the Beaches.” With their snoots in the air, they would sniff and they’d snort “We’ll have nothing to do with the Plain-Belly sort!” And whenever they met some, when they were out walking, They’d hike right on past them without even talking.”
Oh, don’t get me wrong, there’s nobody better at loving people in my echo chamber. It’s the Sneetches with “no stars upon thars” that I’m struggling with. Sadly, I think pretty much the whole US, whether they admit it or not, has joined me in this failure. Remember that line Mom used to say all the time? “It’s more important to be kind than to be right!”-me either.
I thought of a bumper sticker a number of years ago. (I’m an idea guy, but my follow through is wanting. You are welcome to run with this and make millions!)
“Is it hypocritical to exclude the intolerant?”
Deep, huh? Loving one another is supposed to be a value common to all of us. I’d even be willing to bet there isn’t a healthy religion or community in which love of your fellow human is frowned upon. To me, it’s also the hardest part of sharing a planet. But, just how can any of us take the moral high ground if we are not willing to reach out to especially those who are hardest for us to like right now. Most of us are acting as if we’re one winning argument away from converting the masses. What I think we need to remember, though, is that intolerance is the refusal to accept (or perhaps, even listen to?) others beliefs. People are probably not listening to us anyway, but they are sure as hell watching us.
You know what I realized about my bumper sticker this year. It’s not actually a question at all. It’s a command. Try to dodge this:
“It is hypocritical to exclude the intolerant.”
Ouch! If I don’t do everything in my power to include everyone, even (especially!) the people I don’t like right now, then I am behaving no better than those who I perceive to be the worst offenders. Apparently, the only capitol that needs storming is my own mental capital.
It’s going to take some time to do this. I’ll have to extend myself a little grace. I think the first thing I will do is turn off the information faucet. My hats off to the people in the media, we need you to keep us honest, but how you work in your field day after day without the barnacles of cynicism taking up permanent residence on your minds, I’ll never understand. Second, there are some zoom happy hours that need to happen immediately. Finally, I need to do internal audits of my intolerance regularly because Mom was right, I would rather be nice than right.
Go, OK. Maybe, This Time. 30 Aug. 2005, https://audio-ssl.itunes.apple.com/itunes-assets/AudioPreview128/v4/ae/7c/53/ae7c539f-843c-480d-baf9-5213872bca8e/mzaf_8422740268217429186.plus.aac.p.m4a.
Seuss. The Sneetches, and Other Stories; Written and Illus. by Dr. Seuss. 1961.