You see, I am confused.
If I make a mistake, the last thing I want is for that mistake to reflect on others. So, I take responsibility – loudly – and work to keep the fingers pointing at me and not everyone else. I’m the one who goofed after all.
It stymies me when I see the exact opposite from others. I don’t understand it. Would the mistake be any less of a mistake if the true source of that mistake is deflected?
The most obvious example of this today is that unbearable oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Here we are almost a month later and crude continues to gush. Spill? Not hardly. A spill is something you can wipe up with Bounty, and this man-made disaster is way beyond that a gazillion-fold. Yet, it’s more important to establish who to blame than it is to plug up the hole.
I don’t understand how a person can completely deny self-responsibility. I know of this one person who, instead of working hard spends most of the time and energy on deflection, territorialism and bad-mouthing others. There’s no way of knowing just which knife that person has in hand and from what direction the next attack will come. I can’t comprehend existing like that. I lean in, listen hard, feel with all my sense for what is within the heart…and find nothing beyond the sickly-sweet persona. That terrifies me more than anything else.
I know of another person that is so externally motivated that the definition of “friend” is twisted into “fan” instead. There’s no two-way conversation, only a long list of bragging, of inflation, all with a feeling of desperation. This one’s heart is hurting, sore, ill; searching for a way to break loose.
Then there are those that are so convinced that theirs is the only way to think, feel and believe that no one else could possibly think, feel and believe otherwise. Our country is filled with these extremists blind to the basic rights they stomp on without a second thought. So few have learned to play well with others nowadays that it won’t be long now before people start randomly ramming their cars into each other like bumper cars. It would be so much easier than considering that there just might be something far deeper, far more fundamental than, say, making it law that everyone wear seatbelts.
Is it more important to deflect the finger than stopping that gushing crude? Is it more beneficial to bring others down to “look good”? Is it more important to fish for adoration than participating in a real relationship? Is it more important to all think, feel and believe the same to be a family, neighborhood, town, state, country, world than opening up to the variations that keep us all moving forward?
No, I don’t understand. Behavioral patterns echo what is felt deep within. But, I am not ready to give up on them. No. It just takes more digging, more hearing, more sensing to reach past the negatives. I have hope. That hope is fertilized by others:
Like the one who listens hard and gives exactly what is needed, then cries when she is appreciated. It is a kind of giving that is real, that is altruistic, that comes from a heart that respects others and their differences. She is unable to utter anything but kind words.
Like the strong women who have endured losing or almost losing a child. Their focus is on family and their lives devoted to working to help others. Their unfathomable pain becomes a gift to others heard way beyond what words can say.
Like the man who watches out for his neighbors, who insists that everyone has what they need, often by giving beyond his modest means. His door is always open, extra food prepared at meals and spare bedrooms filled. You’ll never see a bigger smile than his.
Walking among the selfish, the self-centered, the extremists along side the humble, the altruistic, the loving is a balancing act. I imagine it’s that way for most. I hope it’s that way for most. Still, I long to understand how some would choose to be so…opposite. It is so confusing to me. I am caught by surprise at the end of some days when I realized I made it through the day unscathed by the negativity.
Other days, I wonder. Every morning, I ask, “Is it safe out there today?”