A couple of weeks ago I was in a conversation with a man who is very close to me. It had been a couple of days after the 2016 elections and I was still raw. During the conversation, this man brought up the results, and as I bit my tongue, I tried to remember who this man was, that he was close to me, that I had made a decision with myself to love him unconditionally. That it didn’t matter what he thought, I’d still respect him. But of course, that all went down the garbage when I heard him say, “the american people voted for those they wanted”. And I felt it, the vile going up my throat, and before I could control my emotions, the sound “no he wasn’t!” had self righteously escaped my mouth, and I was flustered and impatient in a second flat. I tried to present him with facts, explaining to him the little that I knew about how the American system worked, repeating every article headline and quote that supported the fact that the American voting system was a fraud, that America had not elected a criminal and disgusting human as its president. After bombarding him for a second with information, this man simply looked at me and said “no.” And then without stating fact or anything to rebute what I had said, he simply insisted that things were as they were.
That day I went to sleep feeling angry, and like I had failed.
Weeks later, again trying to have a conversation with this same man, I would be heartbroken to find out he thought we didn’t need “more compassion”, because the world was “too nice” already. Heartbroken, but again, trying to remain silent. What good was there from talking to this man who was so hellbent on his opinions? Not to mention, I didn’t really know what I was talking about, mostly I live through intuition, following my sense of right and wrong and always trying to back it up with facts, but it’s intuition first.
So I listened to him, observing him, using him as a testrun of how to remain calm when confronted with these bigots. Until he brought up transgender people. Trying to explain to me how it was so ridiculous for the French government gave students an option to choose their genders. That it was “against evolution”. I took a deep breath in, and with the sweetest most patient tone I could muster, I told him what I knew about gender (which is somehow easier for me to understand than politics) that science and psychology could back up that gender wasn’t just two facets, that it was a social construct, that if everyone could express themselves how they were instead of how we wanted them to it would make for a richer more compassionate world.
That’s when he dropped the bomb. That the world didn’t need more compassion. And that he didn’t need science to tell him what was the truth.
I felt the anger rise. And stopped it.
I stopped it because there is one thing I know about this man, to be the truest of true things, because I have seen it over and over again, and heard him say things over and over again, is that he doesn’t actually care about others. He cares about his world not being disturbed. He cares about being able to blame the world for being a shitty place, instead of having to own up to the shittiness within him. It’s so much easier to accept that the world is garbage. It’s so much easier to put it on the outside. To try and tell others how to live their life so that we feel like we know. Anything to avoid taking a look within.
And there was absolutely nothing that I, personally, knew to do about it. Despite the fact that I am his daughter.
Perhaps if I had the right words, or more patience, or more emotional stability. Perhaps if I cared better. Alas, nothing except for frustration, talking too fast from an emotional standpoint, and then getting burned out and feeling like a failure. I would of course, always hug him goodbye. Make sure we left on good terms. The man is 78, he lives here in France and I’m leaving soon. I’m his only daughter, and often time, for him, for myself, I tell myself it’s more important to have a respectful, distant, loving relationship with my father than to insult him and no matter what, probably not change him at all.
Because I, unlike my father, believe in Compassion beyond anything.
In between all that, I also had a conversation with my younger sister. We were probably talking about bigotry, or something or other, because I was expressing my frustration in not being able to get other people to understand what I was saying.
To which she replied, “no matter what you say though, it remains to be YOUR perspective.”
And that’s a truth that has made the whole concept of living a fair, and good life something of a question mark.
There *is* no real right or wrong. There simply isn’t. We have solid theories based on things that shape us, like religion, psychology, history, evolution, and instinct. But just like I could say (and you might agree) that we should all strive to live as fair and just as possible, there is someone else who could tell you that the purpose of life is destruction, chaos, power, or greed.
And they wouldn’t be wrong.
I’ve had to really think about this, about what it means and how it affects how I view everything. Because no matter what your values and perspectives are, it all just remains, when push comes to shove a perspective.
It’s the matter of fact existence of opposing sides. If one side exists, than the other one naturally does. If evil exists, there is good somewhere within, if good prevails, evil is not far behind. We talk about it constantly and understand this truth, but are still constantly surprised when we face it. We’re so cute, humans…constantly arrogantly speaking as if we know what we’re talking about, while acting surprised that things are exactly as we say they are.
And in all that, how do we choose how to live? Do we pick a side and fight from that side constantly? Or do we let the tides take us down history lane in whichever way is more comfortable for us? Do we live our lives settling in our lives of familiar denial, despite the discomfort it may come with, or do we stand up and do something about it, knowing we will probably never win the fight, but thrive with the freedom of awareness? Do we pick the side of fairness of power? To we remain neutral? How do we choose?
I chose not survival, but thriving. I choose knowledge, and richness. I choose love, in all its delicious manifestations of fun nights with friends, favors followed through with genuine smiles, protest art and a shared meal, unity for the sake of love, and authentic living. I chose to listen to the earth, to nature, because it is part of something that is much more ancient than humanity itself. Because when I convene with nature, reach within myself and listen to the core of existence, there is more truth and more answers there than that which I find in conversation with the most intelligent people. Because everything that we choose to believe as “fact”, has a one point or another just been an opinion. Because everything has been manipulated by the perspective of humans just as imperfect and opinionated as those that exist now.
And through that, everything changes. How you eat, how you have sex, how you befriend people, how you live. What I have found, is that in choosing compassion, I am not in the side of anything. I am in all sides. In choosing compassion, I can still listen. I can still hear. I can still understand. And while I figure out what better ways to give weight to the revolution of love, I fight to listen better. To understand better. So that one day I can do better.
SeLoFest17 Last Challenge
click here for all prompts so far
The Prompt: It’s time to put together everything you’ve been going through, all that you’ve done in the past 3 weeks of Self Love. How do you plan on putting this to use from now on? What side do you choose?
The activity: Read this article.
In your journal: Review past entries in your journal. You should have a blueprint of who you are and how your beliefs came about. Give yourself a plan for the next few months, projects that you wish to pursue to help you continue the fight for yourself and those you love in a world that is bitter and unbalanced.
Believe in yourself. And as always, I am here supporting you.