Friday, 21 March 2014

If I Can't Accept You At Your Worst...

I know. I have been doing this a lot, but it's not because I am lazy or lacking subject matter or whatever. I just read other blogs/articles sometimes that I really appreciate and feel like I have to share.

This one in particular I think every human being should read. But since my platform isn't nearly that large, here's to hoping at least a few other people read this for the first time.


If I Can't Accept You at Your Worst, Then Maybe You Should Stop Being So Horrible

By Matt Walsh

Main Entry Image 
I remember the first time I was awarded the "game ball" in my Little League. I don't recall the details exactly, but I'm pretty sure my stat sheet looked something like this:

Zero RBIs, zero home runs, zero hits, zero stolen bases, zero plays made on the field, seven errors, four innings spent sitting on the bench.

Most of my team probably performed similarly, but I know we put a few points on the board, so SOMEONE must have done something notable.

Alas, that kid -- whoever he was -- got jobbed this tragic afternoon. They gave the game ball to me. You can only imagine how I felt.

That is, confused.

We capped off the season with a trophy ceremony in the local middle school auditorium. One by one, they called every team up to receive their participation awards. You played a game for a few weeks and achieved no amount of success at all! Congratulations on your mediocrity, kid! It was a plastic gold-colored figurine of a guy hitting a baseball. Ironic, really, considering I hadn't actually made contact with a ball all season.

I still have my pity-trophy, it's right up there on my pity-mantle, next to my pity-game ball and the mandatory Valentine's Day cards I only received because elementary school rules required every child to give one to every other child.

When visitors come by, I show it to them and proudly say, "Look at all of the mandatory recognition showered upon me as a matter of routine policy!"

Then my guests will often cringe and weep, and the evening ends early and uncomfortably.

See, I think all of this nonsense -- this "everybody is special, everybody gets to have a trophy, everybody gets a card, everybody gets recognition" idiocy -- can produce only two possible results, neither desirable. One, it can make perceptive, self-aware children even more embarrassed and insecure. They know that they are undeserving of these accolades, and they'd rather not be patronized.

If a severely impoverished child wore a burlap sack to school, he would be utterly humiliated if his teacher, with all good intentions, decided to award him the honor of "best dressed." That's how many kids feel when their mediocrity is put on a pedestal and treated like it's something exceptional. They aren't fooled, as much as they'd like to be.

Then there's Category 2. These kids, perhaps not equipped with the same critical thinking capacities as the first type, will eventually buy into the hype. They will look at those trophies and gold stars, unearned and undeserved, and begin to develop an inflated image of themselves. What is born from this is not confidence, but narcissism and arrogance. These are the kids in possession of the much-heralded "self-esteem." Indeed, they hold themselves in high esteem. Why? Because they are themselves. They are spectacular, beautiful, athletic, and brilliant, all by their very nature. Whatever they do is the best thing anyone has ever done, simply because it was done by them. Whoever comes in contact with them ought to be grateful for the privilege. Success and happiness is what they are due, and the entire universe is in their debt. They are the people who expect the Lord to descend from heaven and hand them a game ball and a participation trophy every day.

I'm sure you've met this type. Maybe you've voted for this type. Maybe you work with, or under, this type. Maybe, God help you, they are in your family. Maybe you've been in a relationship with them.

In fact, it seems statistically likely that you have been in a relationship with them. The divorce rate speaks for itself. Beyond that, although there aren't any statistics (as far as I'm aware) for non-married break ups, it appears obvious that we are experiencing a crisis of failed relationships at every level and in every form. People don't know how to be in relationships anymore, and I think this epidemic can be traced, at least in part, to the delusions of grandeur we instill in our little snowflakes from an early age.

Shielded from failure, insulated from criticism, covered in emotional bubble wrap, our kids are venturing out into the world with little discipline and even less humility. You can see this manifest in many arenas, but I think it's most pronounced in the way we approach relationships.

Here's one example. It's minor, probably insignificant, but it represents something quite serious. I was perusing my Facebook Newsfeed today and I came across a status that said this:
"Yea I'm a b*tch but deal with it. I wont be with anyone who cant accept all of who I am!!!"

This was a grown woman. Apparently college educated. Older than me.

It reminded me of a meme we've all seen a thousand times. It has a few variations, but it usually goes something like this:

If you can't accept me at my worst, then you don't deserve me at my best.

This is such a popular sentiment that it has its own Facebook fan page with over 150,000 "likes."

It shows up all the time on memes and illustrations like this one:

Of course, the original quote, widely attributed to Marilyn Monroe, is even more vapid and nauseating when taken in its full context:
"I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best."
Out of all the profundities ever uttered, what does it say about our society that THIS is the quote we've decided to take to heart?

It says that we need to read more books.

Also, it says that we are horrible at relationships.

Yes, it's true that, in a marriage, we must love our spouses in spite of their flaws. It's also true that we all have flaws. But it's ALSO true that only an infantile, spoiled, egotistical brat would ever treat a loved one with "her worst" and expect them to deal with it because her "best" will somehow compensate for it.

Newsflash: It's not OK to be selfish, impatient, and out of control. These traits, while common, are UNacceptable. They should not be accepted, least of all by the people you claim to love. The onus is on YOU to change your behavior and your attitude, not on them to "handle it." Are you such a gem that they should thank God for the opportunity to be emotionally abused by you, if only it earns them a chance to bask in the glow of your superiority?

Perhaps that's how you see it, but I've never met anyone quite that charming.

This philosophy is poison, and it stretches beyond one offensive quote from a 20th century Playboy Bunny. Often I read or hear people whine that they 'just want to find someone who will accept them, no matter what.' But being "accepted" should not be our relationship goal. Healthy relationships are loving, but also challenging, edifying, and even occasionally painful.

Accept. Definition: to receive with approval or favor, to agree or consent to.

Should our selfishness, impatience, and weakness preclude us from being loved? No. But should these traits be "accepted"? Should they be "received with approval or favor"? Should our loved ones "consent" to them?


Big no.

Enormous, loud, screaming no.

Should we scoff at our husbands or wives or boyfriends or girlfriends and flippantly tell them to "handle it," as we behave in ways that will hurt and offend them?

No. And if you think that -- if you REALLY think that -- then you shouldn't be getting into relationships at all. You aren't ready.

Further, does our "best" (which probably isn't as great as we imagine it to be) make up for, or negate, our "worst"?

No. Your worst is your worst. Fix it. Be better. Nobody should have to put up with it. Least of all the people you love.

Love is a transformative force, and if you want to experience it you better be ready to change in every way imaginable. My wife does not "accept me," and thank God for that. She challenges me. She makes me better. In other words, she loves me.

What kind of a pathetic and dreary goal is that, anyway -- just wanting to be "accepted," tolerated, put up with? That's not why we're put on this planet. Life is not about gaining "acceptance." Life is change. It is not static and stagnant, do you really want your relationships to be?

We don't emerge into the world as eternally entitled princes and princesses. We come into it as naked, crying, helpless babies. Our job is to grow out of that condition. And that will take a lot of changing and a lot of learning about what parts of us are unsuitable and insufficient and unacceptable. Sadly, some of us are unwilling to endure that process, so we never grow, and in failing to grow we fail to live. It's a tragedy.

Don't ask anyone to "accept" the bad parts of you. Instead, strive to improve those parts. Put in the effort. Make yourself worthy of the love they've offered you.

Forget what you learned in elementary school. The only "participation trophy" you're awarded from life is death. That's the one thing we all get just for showing up. In the meantime, if you want something better, you have to earn it.

That means if you want better relationships, you have to earn them, too.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Religion and Mankind

Today I am going to take on the most controversial topic I've ever written about: religion. (Finally, I know. This draft has actually been sitting on my blog since January. But, fake busy.)

If you're close-minded, an extremist on either end of the spectrum, here just for slander/to argue, and/or lacking analytical skills absent emotional outbursts, this is your stop. The train will not stop again so please make your way to the exit now. And for those of you still here, leave your stereotypes and witticism at the door.

This is long overdue. (Especially since Mormons came by a few days ago with one mission: to get my non-Mormon friend baptized in their church. Nothing else, which of course proved my point.)

I've noticed something recently, now that everyone has an equal platform and therefore renewed, and heightened, sense of entitlement, that I've been quite reluctant to address. 

Time and time again, I see that the problem most people have with faith and religion is not really with God or any divinely-inspired doctrines. The problem they have is with mankind. (This was me at one point, too.)

Allow me to explain. 

I am no religious expert and I haven't spent my life going through all religious doctrines in existence, though someday I hope to find the time, but from what I have observed, all religions share a common thread/purpose: to make us better people. It's that unifying imperative and overarching ideal that I feel we should all focus on, recognize and appreciate, as opposed to focusing on what separates. 

The Christian Bible, with which I am most familiar, is open to interpretation, as are the other doctrines that people believe in. But they all have the same concept: someone at the head, probably the author, who essentially tells you what is right from wrong so we can all live in harmony with each other and with the Earth. That is, and has always been, the purpose of religion.

And what's so bad about that?

Can't we all agree that this world we live in is suffering from a severe lack of humanity, morality and compassion? Whether you tie them to religion or not, these are naturally-occuring emotions that humans have practised for years to ignore and replace instead with other emotions that they created for each other and tied to religion. (Namely, competition.)

I don't think any religious doctrine is meant to be taken word for word. And I don't think the purpose of them is to be used as a crutch for someone who doesn't actually adhere to or grasp the full concept of the belief system. The division created by mankind's organised religions is a false assumption of separation that comes through the rejection of the symbiotic relationship of life and the empirical oneness we share.

Christianity alone has 34,000 different sub groups. That is 34,000 people who think the type of rice is more important than the rice itself; 34,000 people who have succumbed to the human ego that tells them they are in competition with each other and the rest of the world about whose God is better -- 34,000 people who separate themselves and learn to hate others because of little unimportant varying details.

Yet most of those same Christians treat the bible like a terms and conditions agreement. They just scroll all the way to the bottom and click agree, without really having read anything they just agreed to. Then, they use it in their everyday lives as if they've got the whole thing memorised. This is mankind's doing. Not religion. This is what man has decided to do with religion -- hide their lack of willpower to self-actualise behind false claims of a religion they don't even know if they really believe in.

Religion is not a crutch. And God isn't limited to a building or a time of year, or a book. God is inside of you, inside of me. God is the wind, the trees, the ocean. And we have disconnected ourselves from all of it to pay attention to things that further separate and incite hatred for each other -- things like money, religion and construction. We have built a world that can no longer be sustained by the world that was here for millions of years before us. And we don't care because we are so busy being blinded by competition and our own narcissistic beliefs.

But the truth is, whatever answers you are looking for to life, your purpose, or whatever strength you are turning to religion to find, is already inside of you. All of the answers come from the universe, the same one that we destroy and ignore every day. 

Our disconnect with God and our disconnect with nature are not two separate things occurring simultaneously. God, nature, the universe are all one -as are we. And there is no such thing as independence in nature. Everything in nature is dependent on the other. We cannot coexist concomitantly in the world if we are all trying to be independent of each other in our actions and beliefs. We need to eliminate the divisionary noise that we have all been conditioned to think is true -- i.e. I believe pastors should be able to marry, I believe you're supposed to pray this way, I believe you're not supposed to eat that, so let's all decide into groups -- and align ourselves with the eternal signal that comes from our empirical oneness.

The minor details that separate the world's religions, in my opinion, aren't more important than the big picture. You can't use people's separate interpretations of a subjective material as an argument against faith in its entirety. Pay attention to what is in you, and what feels good in your heart. Be proactive in your beliefs. God, the universe, whoever, gave us brains that can analyse for a reason. Nature gave us all our own mind, and hearts that can connect to others'. Nowhere does it say that we have to all interpret something the same way for it to be. No where does it say anything about separating and labeling each other based on individual interpretations.

If you want to go to a Catholic church because you feel good when you leave, then go. If you don't want to go because you get nothing from it, then don't. But all of that is up to you and what you want to get from it. All I am asking is that your reason for not going, for example, not be because Catholic priests touch little boys. Teachers touch little children too, but that has never given anyone a reason to boycott school all together.

What makes church so different? If you can focus on the fact that school is there to help us better ourselves, then why can't you focus on that for church, too? Are priests not simply teachers, and regular humans, too? Whose job is to help people become good members of society?

Stop looking for reasons to feed your ego.

The only separation in spirituality, in my opinion, is those who believe in it and those who don't. That's it. If we think of it that way, we'd find that we have so much more time to focus on those core values that bind us all as humans, as one race of people. But we've been so conditioned by the world to segregate ourselves based on even the smallest of things, like hair type, or melanin levels, that it would literally take an entire overhaul of our psyche, and society, before we can begin to live in true love and unity.

And please, spare me the science argument. Science and faith should not be put into the same category. Faith is a focus on morality and how to interact with the Earth and each other. Science is just to help us understand the Earth and each other. What we need to do, in my opinion, is master the moral part of God (Faith) so we can then master the engineering part (Science) of living in this world with each other and the rest of the creatures in the animal kingdom.

Still, in the end, I can't tell you what to think, or who or what to believe in. I can only give you a new perspective that you can either reject, accept or, at the very least, respect. 

My only goal is to help you open up your mind.  

And I guess the point I'm trying to make here is that if you don't believe in religion then that's your prerogative, and I'm not here to tell you if it's wrong or right. But if it is that you don't believe in it, make it be because you don't believe in it; not because you don't believe in what human beings have done with it. 

Because much like everything else in this world, the purity of faith has long been tainted and destroyed by human beings.

With that said, I will leave you with some other stuff to think about: the first, some tweets from one of my followers on Twitter; the second, a quote from a documentary I watched a few weeks ago called I am; and lastly, a set of guidelines carved anonymously into the Georgia Guidestones. All of which can be adhered to no matter the religion with which you have been taught to align.


--- "In all of our great intellect, we humans seem to be the dumbest creatures on the planet. In all of our belief in a creator, whatever name you know it as, we turn and we destroy that very thing ... Nature. God is not some man in the sky waiting to damn you to hell. God is the nature that you have turned your back on in these technological days. God is the trees you cut down every day, the grass you pave over, the lakes you dump toxic waste in. That is God. And If God is nature, then "what is the Devil?" becomes the question. The devil is the human ego that says you don't have to live within nature. The human ego that will have you think you are somehow more important than nature itself -- that is the devil." 

--- "There is one fundamental law that all of nature obeys that mankind breaks every day: Nothing in nature takes more than it needs. The red wood tree doesn't take all the soil's nutrients, just what it needs to grow. The lion doesn't kill every gazelle, just one. We have a term for something in the body when it takes more than its share ... Cancer." 

---  "Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature. Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity. Unite humanity with a living new language. Rule passion, faith, tradition, and all things with tempered reason. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court. Avoid petty laws and useless officials. Balance personal rights with social duties. Prize truth, beauty, love — seeking harmony with the infinite. Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature."