Arguing on the Internet, Should I Disengage?

I really should know better by now. I really should learn to just disengage with ignorant or narrow-minded people who refuse to even consider any viewpoint but their own. I should learn that it takes away from my happiness and peaceful life by wandering into pointless debates with people who I know I’m never going to get to even consider an idea that has any nuance or depth to it.

My therapist today encouraged me to disengage from these people, to stop letting them level personal attacks at me over simple differences of opinion. If I want to stop being bullied or pushed around, I have to stop allowing it. Of course, none of this applies to you guys (my blog followers), but more has to do with people on other social media who I happen to be acquaintances with in my real life. Even if they are distant familial relations, I have no obligation to let them project their crazy, illogical, rigid way of thinking onto me.

If you are going to tell me that I am evil, immoral, or dishonest just because I don’t believe what you believe, I really don’t need you in my life.

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Illusions

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If I could have one wish, I would wish more than anything that we as humanity could let go of our illusions –

religious illusions
political illusions
personal illusions

so that we could take a cold, hard look at reality as it actually is, and work together to solve our real problems at the core. Of course, I would have to start with myself, being willing to let go of any illusions I still hold, illusions I am blind to. In fact, I have found that it is almost impossible for any of us to recognize our own illusions until we have come to a place where we are willing to let them go.

*Art by Maranda Russell

I want to save the world…but I can’t. Not alone.

world_in_hands

I think I have a savior complex. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not delusional. I don’t think I’m Jesus Christ or anything like that (the whole being crucified thing honestly kind of freaks me out). However, in my mind I have this ridiculous idea that I have to save the world. Sometimes I think it is because I am overly sensitive (a bittersweet gift from my Asperger’s Syndrome). It could also be because I grew up in a generation where we were constantly told “you can change the world!” Or maybe it is the fault of a stranger who came up to me at a truck stop when I was around 12. The guy walked right up to me, handed me a $20 bill and told me “God has a very important plan for you. Make sure you fulfill it.” Weird encounters like that leave a mark.

Regardless of the reason behind it, I can’t just look away when I see children starving, animals abused, the earth destroyed or people being cruel to one another…regardless of where it takes place in the world. There is this driving voice in my head that continually tells me that things have to change and that I need to be actively working on changing them. I feel a sense of urgency, like more is at stake than I even realize. Sometimes this drives me crazy. I feel like I should always be doing more. I should be feeding the poor. I should be saving the animals. I should be fighting against the mere appearance of injustice and prejudice. It is almost like a compulsion, with the voice in my head always shouting, “Do more! Do more! Do more!”

Sometimes I wonder if other people feel this. I like to think they do, but when I look around I don’t see that. Instead, it seems like most people are caught up in their daily lives and in being entertained or distracted from reality. Maybe that is why I feel so heavily that I need to do more all the time, that it all “depends on me”. Because many others just don’t seem to care. Perhaps I feel like I have to do enough for me and all of them too in order to really make this world better.

However, I know that I can’t do it all. I am just one person in a sea of humanity. I have few material or physical assets. I have health problems that limit what I can do. I can’t drive more than about 20 minutes away from home without getting lost. I am a woman, and as such, often seen as some kind of “inferior” being. Doesn’t seem like I have much of a chance of saving the world, huh? However, I keep doing what little I can do. Speaking out about things that matter to me. Looking for little opportunities to lend a hand or show kindness. Drawing attention to things that many people would rather not see. Trying to shine my little bit of light on this often dark world. Hoping that others will join me and shine their light as well. Alone, I am little more than a spark, but together, we could brighten the world tremendously.

Religion…for all the wrong reasons?

self-seeking

Just something to think about…

Have you ever really stopped to think why you believe what you believe? If you have any religious or spiritual beliefs, what prompted you to form them? If you are a Christian for example, why did you choose to be a Christian? Was it because that is what you were taught growing up? Is it because most of your friends/family share that belief system and you want to fit in? Is it because you want blessings in return or fear going to hell? Or it is because you truly love and want to live those beliefs?

Now, once you have an idea in mind of why you chose your beliefs, think about who those beliefs serve. Which of the reasons are self-serving and which are others-centered? If you chose your beliefs because that is what you were always taught or because all your friends and family share the beliefs, who benefits from that? Have you just taken the path of least resistance? Are you afraid to question those beliefs for fear of being ostracized, bullied or left out? If so, is that a good reason to believe something?

If you chose your beliefs because you fear the punishment of hell or desire rewards here or in heaven, who benefits from that? Is it selfish to choose a belief system based on what it can give you or to avoid the fears of hellish punishment that have been instilled in you? Is it materialistic to live a good life only because you want a nice mansion or big crown in heaven when you die? How many people keep some kind of tally in their head of good vs bad deeds, trying to do just enough good stuff to require whatever fulfillment they believe will get them into heaven? How selfish is the “gospel of prosperity” as some people have called it? Do you believe that if you do ‘right’ you deserve good things and that those who don’t have good things have obviously failed to live right (as I have heard some Christians say)?

Now, what about if you chose your beliefs because you truly loved them and wanted to live them? Do those beliefs make you want to serve others? If you are a Christian, do you truly like the things Jesus did and do you try to emulate those actions regardless of how unpopular they may be? Do you want to defend and help heal the weak and the hurting? Do you put the welfare of people before tradition? Do you want to actively participate in God’s spiritual kingdom here on earth and make things better for others while you are here, or are you just surviving until you can leave the earth? Do you find meaning in reaching out to others rather than in being entertained or catered to? Is your comfort more important to you than the basic needs of others?

Of course, no one can answer these questions for us. It is something that requires deep thought and honesty. It makes us see the parts of ourselves we may not like or may make us question what we have always thought. I ask myself these kinds of questions often and sometimes they are hard to face and reveal, but I have a deep desire to be authentically about helping others. So many of us take our selfishness into our religion…and that shows. People know and it turns them off. I hope that maybe we can all someday see that true love and spirituality can never be just about “us”, “our kind” or “our wants and needs”.

Stop the Bullying! Please!

Stop Bullying!

“Stop Bullying” mixed media ACEO art.

I hate bullying. I hated it when I was a kid and I still hate it as an adult. Over my short lifetime of 31 years, I have been bullied for many reasons, among them:

  • Physical looks (been called ugly, fat, big butt, butch, lesbian, etc)
  • Personal interests and personality (been called a nerd, geek, dork, retard, stupid, immature, crybaby, goody goody, weirdo, etc)
  • Social issues and awkwardness (probably due to my Asperger’s)
  • Being too liberal
  • Being too conservative
  • Being a Christian and believing in God
  • Not being the “right” kind of Christian or “Christian enough”
  • Being a woman who speaks her mind and is intelligent (which apparently means you are a “bitch” or are not feminine enough)

Of course, I know there is some argument about what constitutes actual bullying, but I consider bullying to be anything said or done to intentionally hurt another person or to just be plain mean.

Unfortunately, I have also been on the other side of bullying, especially when I was younger. I have called other people names, talked about them behind their back and stood by silently while others tormented a particular person. I am not proud to admit that, but it is the truth. One thing that has shocked me as I have gotten older though is how much bullying still occurs in the adult world. It happens at work, it happens in social circles, it happens in politics, it happens in tabloids and media, it even happens in churches! And of course we all know it happens on Facebook and other social media sites frequently – especially between family members.

So what can we do about the bullying plague? How do we raise kids who won’t bully when even adults act that way at 40 and 50 years old? The only true solution I can see is to change ourselves. If I stop bullying and you stop bullying and then others stop bullying…hopefully someday the problem will be eradicated…or at least greatly reduced. So think twice before you call someone a name or mock them cruelly. Maybe keep your mouth closed when you are tempted to cut someone down behind their back or spread a rumor. Stand up for someone who is being torn down for no real reason. Keep debates and arguments about the actual subject at hand and don’t start personally attacking someone just because their opinion is different than yours. If deep inside you know that you are purposefully being mean or hurting someone…just stop it. It really is that simple.

Judge not lest you be judged – quotes about true tolerance

Ok, I normally don’t get all political on my blog posts, but all this stuff going on lately is really bugging me. All the hate between the liberals and conservatives, all the hate between those in favor of Chick-Fil-A’s stand against homosexuality and all those who think it is prejudice, all the namecalling and mudslinging that goes on in election races…all this stuff really bugs me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think everyone is entitled to their own opinion and God gave us free will and the choice to make our own decisions for a reason. BUT, does that mean we have to be filled with so much anger and hatred towards those different from us or who (gasp!) don’t agree with our beliefs? Both sides talk about love and tolerance, but you don’t see much of either of those attributes when people fight. The truth is, when you start tearing others down, true tolerance goes out the window. Tolerance DOES NOT mean you have to agree with what the other person thinks, but it DOES MEAN that you show them the courtesy and respect every human being deserves.

So in the hope of furthering true tolerance and unconditional love, here are a few quotes I thought we might all need to consider, starting with a couple from Jesus himself.

“Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Matthew 7:1

“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” John 8:7

“When we judge others we leave no room to love them.” ~ Mother Teresa

“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.” ~ Paulo Coelho

“Let the refining and improving of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others.” ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

“There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it hardly becomes any of us to talk about the rest of us.” ~ Edward Wallace Hoch

“All we see of someone at any moment is a snapshot of their life: there in riches or poverty, in joy or despair. Snapshots don’t show the million decisions that led to that moment.” ~ R. Baach

“We are all stumbling towards the light in varying degrees of grace at any given moment.” ~ Bo Lozoff

“God Himself, sir, does not propose to judge a man until his life is over. Why should you and I?” ~ Sammuel Johnson

Learning to love change

Change is a fact of life.  No matter who you are or where you live, your life is bound to go through many, many changes before you leave this earth for the next life.  Some people fight tooth and nail against each change that comes their way, but that only makes you more miserable in the long run.  After all, what is more frustrating than fighting against the inevitable?

Recently our lives have gone through ALOT of change.  Yesterday, my husband and I had a foster son who had been living with us for two and a half years go home for good.  I also have two books that are soon to be published that will bring both happy and scary changes into my life.  Plus, my husband is working towards his Master’s degree in special education so that he can get a different job.  Add to those major adjustments the daily ups and downs of life and you get quite a roller coaster ride.

Sometimes all of this upheaval can be overwhelming.  During those times, I try to find inspiration from others who have been there.  Here are a few of the quotes that have helped me keep perspective while I deal with everything going on around me.  I hope they will comfort and cheer you as well!

“For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.” – Flora Whittemore

“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.” – Keri Russell

“There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction.” – Winston Churchill

“Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.” – Arnold Bennett

“We cannot change our past. We can not change the fact that people act in a certain way. We can not change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.” – Charles R. Swindoll

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” – Anatole France

“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.” – Unknown