We Know Not What We Do, I Hope

Hello, dear readers and happy Monday! I know, I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance at a fresh start, every single week. Each Monday is our own personal reset button. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

“No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks.”

— Mary Wollstonecraft

I’ve been having a really hard time coping with the state of the people and politics here in the United State since the election. There are many of you, and many people I know in real life, who would tell me it’s long past time to get over it, but every morning I watch the news, I scroll my feeds and timelines, and I get progressively more afraid, more cynical, and more depressed.

It feels like there are so many people who want to hurt the poor, the lost, and the vulnerable. They want to hurt our environment. They want to hurt people who look and live differently from they way they look and live. They want to line their pockets and laugh while the world burns. I am convinced, but what I can’t understand is why.

I hear two voices shouting out at me through opinion pieces and blogs. One says not to listen to them, not to give them one moment’s consideration. They are the enemy and they must be guarded against at all costs. The other says to understand them. See the world their way. They are afraid, they are ignorant, listen and reassure them. They only need time and love to come around.

My heart likes the sound of the latter, but my anger tells me I am stupid and pushes the former course.

I’m highly suspicious of any calls to understand, and appeal to, people who refuse to understand or appeal to the needs of those less fortunate than them.

What I mean is, if you are angry because full equality under the law and fair and respectful treatment for immigrants, Muslims, women, and the LGBTQ+ community has become an important issue in American politics, I think the last thing we should be doing is giving you more time to explain why people who have suffered and fought for so long should slow down, take a back seat, and give you the floor. Sorry, I’m not sorry.

I am weary of anyone who says you can’t eat, you can’t feel warm, secure, and safe because they need more. There are real consequences for people when you won’t let go of your ego or a small amount of your money. When people say they need something, they need it. End of story.

But as weary as I am, as much as I don’t want to spend my time understanding and coddling, there is part of me that longs to understand and the only thing that makes sense is that people just don’t know any better. They can’t help themselves. They really think they are doing what is right.

We have so much privilege we have become so blind to it. We spend more time protecting our luxuries than we do protecting human life and dignity. We are all guilty of it. Some more than others, but every day more and more sees the light. There is hope, I hope.

I recognize that may be a lie I am telling myself too. Maybe part of me just wants to, has to, believe that the world isn’t that cruel. People can’t be evil for evil sake. Even if the universe doesn’t care and there is no rhyme or reason to any of this, we have to have reasons right? We have to, deep down, want to do what’s best, for love, for our families, for our country and our sense of right and wrong. Right?

So, this week, I’m exploring what lies are worth telling myself. What leaps of faith are worth taking. What aspects of human nature are not worth looking too closely at.

My instincts tell me none. My instincts tell me wherever humans are involved things are always complicated, and there are never easy answers. There is always a spectrum and it is rare we fall to one side or the other fully. People aren’t all bad, but they aren’t all good either. People’s intentions must follow the same patterns I suppose.

So, this week I guess I am exploring what that means to me and in these times, where we are so divided, so angry, and so willing to turn a blind eye or let loose our rage, we should all explore what that means for us, about us. How do we find common ground? How do we listen and teach? How do we change hearts? How do we do it without losing our own sense of right and wrong?

This week, ask yourself what are the value the value of rose-colored glasses and leaps of faith in humanity? Contemplate the motivations behind why we treat each other the way they do. Look within yourself and question how it makes you feel when another person says they need things that you cannot understand. In what ways do people who live differently from you make you afraid?

I want to know what evil lives in me and why I think it will lead to happiness. I want to know that about all people. I want to know how to fix it.

“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

— Anne Frank

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Featured image via Unsplash

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Lisa

Hello! My name is Lisa. I find the human condition fascinating and I often write stuff about that. I blog at zenandpi.com but you can also find me on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, and if you like what I do, consider signing up for my newsletter. Thanks :)

6 thoughts on “We Know Not What We Do, I Hope”

  1. Amen! You pulled the words out of the tip of my brain. I’ve been wrestling with this idea myself, of trying to understand and at the same time trying to protect myself against people who just wanna squawk their opinion without wanting to understand mine. I’d rather NOT talk if that’s the case, but listen and absorb. I talk too much about the mundane anyway and would much rather listen, because I rarely get the news anymore–only one TV and it’s constantly tuned into FUX news at full-volume. I have to go online and look all over the place. Some things are horrifying, some are just saddening, and others are important and should be disseminated. I think you hit the nail on the head.

    And I think there’s something to what Bill Maher said back in January in one of his monologues/New Rules: Stop Apologizing!. I consider myself liberal-leaning, but he hit it on the head when he said what makes liberals so weak is they apologize for every little slight (even if its not real and only perceived). I’ve yet to hear a conservative apologize for their viewpoints, but liberals cave…we need to knock that crap off because it’s not helping anybody.

    You’re right, you don’t have to be sorry–enough’s enough. Good for you in saying it, because I’m tired to the more derogatory elements controlling the convo because no one will actively debate ’em (civilly) and stick to it. And no more “false equivalency” crap–that doesn’t help either.

    Hugs, and glad I read this today.

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    1. Agreed! I have to admit; I don’t always agree with Bill Maher, although I do watch him religiously every weekend. I agree we should stop apologizing. Liberals do it so much that it hardly means anything anymore. We should save our remorse for when we’ve truly made a mistake and when we truly mean we are sorry. I’m working on recognizing when I am only sorry because someone got upset, but I haven’t actually done or felt anything wrong. I’m on a mission to shout my feelings to the world and to call out ignorance and lies when I hear them and I’m not sorry because it is the right thing to do! Thanks for reading *hugs* :)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nice to meet someone on the same boat. I’m accidentally apologetic all the time and then wonder why later. I’m always curbing my opinions for the sake of peace…but you can only do that so long before you have no self to speak of. Working on that. Best of luck to ye!

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  2. I see four basic groups of people you are against. Yes, categorizing people is never good, but… There are the ultra-rich who are in power. There isn’t much you can understand (the more power you have, the more you want) and there is little you can do, though hopefully working with others we can limit their power. The second group is just as bad. This is the extremists. I’m hope you will not understand them ;) And I am sure you won’t change them. But then there are the misled, the afraid, the people who voted in the current administration. You can try to understand them. You might hit brick walls, but for the most part, they are just “normal people”. Some of them are having “buyers remorse” over the election, but not enough yet Once enough understand and get angry about what is happening, because some of it will happen to them too… And then there are the indifferent. These people didn’t bother to vote or went one way or another, but don’t care or feel that nothing they do or say make a difference. We need to wake them up, because they will be hurt in the long run. Remember, the first two groups, the ultra-rich and the true extremists, are relatively small. Politicians live and die by public opinion. If enough people are scared and angry enough about what is happening, many will listen. Those at the top might not care, but if an administration has congress and the senate against them, they will be stuck, and if they are impeached…

    Anyway, my two cents on if you should blindly reject or try to understand… It depends on who “they” are.

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    1. The ultra rich and the extremists are a minority, but they hold so much power and talk over everyone so much it makes it hard to remember how little they really are. I hope the buyer’s remorse grows but also, I don;t want people to get hurt. I think we are already on a course, though, one where the selfish and the mean are winning, I just hope it won’t all be for nothing. I hope people wake up.

      The indifferent I have written about before. They are a big part of the problem. They are great and powerful sleeping giant that could have stopped all of this. I hope the wake up too. I hope we feel their power in the next election.

      You are right, though. My willingness to listen and understand can exist on a spectrum too. I can choose to be open to those who are open to me too. Respect those who are capable of compassion and change if given the information they lack and a perspective they’ve never encountered. Thank you for the clarity.

      Liked by 1 person

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