Of course there are times when the Other does not act according to his or her highest values, but nevertheless we need to help people feel safe enough to choose caring over control. ~ Rabbi Michael Lerner
When I was a kid I got excited when I found polished stones left in our dirt driveway. A rough-around-the-edges bachelor who once lived in our house left these glossy treasures. Stone polishing was his hobby. I always imagined an eccentric unshaven man whiling away hours alone by placing jagged rocks in a tumbler and waiting for smooth stones to emerge.
Assholes to Angels
Some people are jagged rocks. Rough with intolerance and sharp with negativity. Quick to point out where they have been wronged and slow to forgive. They find others to be idiots. They seem to feel it is them against the world.
For a long time I just nodded my head and listened to these individuals spout off about the shittyness of life.
Then I just avoided them altogether.
Now I feel a need to shower them in so much light and love that they can’t help but be infused with confidence, so much so that they dare to reach out with honesty and vulnerability. I like to champion people when they’re down; encourage them to generate ideas and solutions rather than complaints and bitterness.
Be one who nurtures and builds
Be one who has an understanding
and forgiving heart, who looks for
the best in people. Leave people
better than you found them.
~ Marvin J. Ashton
An Intolerance for Intolerance?
I’ve always been especially sensitive to negativity and intolerance. If someone makes a limiting statement like, I hate country music, it feels like sharp rocks under my feet. It feels like a stab at control. A racial slur or joke at another’s expense hits me the same way.
I almost never use the word hate. It feels like releasing poison into the universe. I can always find an exception to absolutes. There isn’t one country song that makes you smile?
I DO use the word love a lot. As in, I love Peter Gabriel’s music and I love when you help your sister with basketball. It feels like sprinkling pixie dust rather than broken glass. I am in no way saying I am a saint and only spread joy. I have my egotistical rants and self-centered agendas but I can’t keep those up for long before I feel drained and hardened.
Two World Views
According to Rabbi Michael Lerner in Loving the Stranger: Rabbi Michael Lerner on the Folly of Nationalism (The Sun magazine Sept.2012), there are two world views: 1. That we are born into this world seemingly alone and surrounded by hostile forces that seek to control us and the only way to have security is to dominate the others first and 2. That we are born into a world of compassion where we rely on others for help and care if needed. A world where security comes from generosity, kindness and love, both received and extended.
For many years I fell in between these two world views. I tried to be assertive and in control because that seemed the more valued way to be, but that was hard and felt like work. A daily grind. But if I went around being soft-hearted and kind all the time I felt weak and even foolish, easily walked upon.
I was surrounded by both dominating and loving forces. I collected dominant friends and lovers so I could learn from them and be protected against hostile forces. I gathered open and loving friends to embrace my weaknesses and nurture my strengths, t0 teach me the importance of kindness and vulnerability. I collected both rocks and stones to help me transform.
I eventually felt safe enough to transform and grow without putting others down or having to be in complete control.
The Introvert Connection
Introverts process input/feedback/stimulation deeply. Which explains why we would want to surround ourselves with positive influences and energy. We also require solitude to re-charge and reflect. In this alone time we move memories and associations around in our minds in such a way that we end up feeling very connected to ourselves and others as well.
Introverts, of course, are not the only ones who can reflect and feel empathy. Anyone can find space and feel connected with the universe.
Within these feelings of connection we discover a desire to smooth over the roughness of life. We see ourselves and even assholes and curmudgeons as people who need gentleness and generosity. We are all people in search of love and safety.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could make each other feel safe enough to choose compassion over dominance? If we could become less jagged through love and kindness?
**Appropriate meaningful music:) Peter Gabriel More Than This
If you enjoyed Do You Feel Alone in a Hostile World or Connected… you may also like:
There’s Nothing Wrong with You. You’re an Introvert (space2live)