Monday, October 09, 2017

Trying to love...

Have been dealing with "human drama" (mostly, people who get irritated at some thing I'd pretty much shrug off, and who then keep BRINGING THAT THING UP and talking about how aggrieved they are and essentially wanting everyone to pat them on the head and tell them how hard they have it, and I confess I have little time or energy for that, and also, I have no one to pat ME on the head when I'm distressed, so).

But yeah. I keep trying to 'reframe' it. In my better moods I can remind myself:

1. People (including myself) have fragile feelings
2. You don't know what else is going on in someone's life
3. "Small input, big reaction means something else is going on in the reactor."

I also find myself thinking of this prose poem. There's a version linked to Mother (now St.) Teresa of Calcutta, but apparently she didn't actually write it, but it looks like this man did, in 1968, as a book for student leaders: (from here

The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith
  1. People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
    Love them anyway.
  2. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
    Do good anyway.
  3. If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
    Succeed anyway.
  4. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
    Do good anyway.
  5. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
    Be honest and frank anyway.
  6. The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
    Think big anyway.
  7. People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
    Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
  8. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
    Build anyway.
  9. People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
    Help people anyway.
  10. Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.Give the world the best you have anyway.

And yeah, there's a lot of truth there, but a lot of it is kind of painful truth. (The thing about giving the world your best and still getting kicked in the teeth....)

The first one is the thing I think of most often. It's the one I struggle with the most these days, I think - I get very fed up with people. In part, because they are illogical, at least according to my logic. (For example: getting upset with one person in a group, and therefore dropping the things you are responsible for, instead of discussing with that person and trying to come to an agreement. And it often winds up that ANOTHER group member winds up shouldering the dropped responsibilities on top of their own).

I'm....finding harder to love people. I used to be better at it. I don't know if that's something like an allergy, that with more exposure comes more reaction, or if it's that I am spending too much time seeing the foolishness* that people get up to and am just running out of patience. Or if I'm just tired right now, and it looks like things are getting worse, when they're just as "worse" as they've ever been, it's just I'm noticing it more.

(*Not the good kind of foolishness, the annoying kind)

I came home from CWF tonight and flipped on the tv. Some news channel, some "pundit" or "comedian" or some such squawking about current events, loudly, with lots of arm motion. And I groaned almost exactly like Sideshow Bob did:

I changed the channel. (Criminal Minds re-run, which perhaps isn't much better, except that there, the "good guys" usually win).

But yeah. Maybe the answer is limiting my exposure to the wider world of human illogic, in the answer. I can't avoid it at work or other places I have to go, I can't avoid dealing with the people in my day-to-day life, but maybe I need a more-steady diet of cartoons and similar things for a while.

But yeah, there's a lot in those "paradoxical commandments," and maybe I need to print out a copy and hang it on my office wall - the whole "the good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow" is one of the big frustrations I am wrestling with. And yes, my inclination is STILL to 'do good anyway' because it's how I was raised and I wouldn't sleep as well at night if I didn't.....still, I do wish the "may be forgotten tomorrow" wasn't such an obvious reality to me right now.


A couple other things I have thought of: It's a big story in nerd-news right now about Szechuan sauce. Apparently the story on this is, it was originally a tie-in for Mulan (I don't even REMEMBER that, though I would have been in grad school at the time - then again, I was already on my "eat more healthfully" kick then* and didn't eat at McDonald's, or, really, any fast food).

(*I had what may have been a gallstone when I was about 18. It was the worst pain of my life, bar none. I thought I was dying - we were on vacation at the time and I begged my parents to take me to an ER. My mom recognized it as something similar one of her sisters had had and told me to wait it out. It did eventually go away but my regular doctor shook her head later and said, "If it happens much more, we're gonna have to take that gall bladder out" and then suggested that a lower-fat diet and exercise might help prevent that. Knock on wood, so far it has...It could also have been being an 18-year-old woman; I had some....hormonal....issues when I was younger.)

For some reason - apparently an in-joke among the writers? the relatively new cartoon "Rick and Morty" features it. In the sense that, it's the point of some of one of the character's quests, that he wants the sauce so badly.

(I've tried watching it, knowing it was popular and that I liked cartoons. I can't. The art style is that sot of aggressively-ugly style some "for adults" cartoons adopts, and none of the characters are likable. Apparently the claim is a lot of the fans like Rick and want to copy him, when it turns out he's a malignant narcissist alcoholic who only cares about himself. Sorry.....would rather watch "little kids'" cartoons instead.)

But yeah. McDonald's decided, for a larf, they'd bring the sauce back for a few days.

They were not prepared. Apparently the fans descended on the stores, some in costume, some prepared to mock up (or perhaps have for real, I can't tell) tantrums when they couldn't get the sauce. (Given the whole thing with the character in the cartoon, I'm suspecting 90% of the tantrums were done as a gag....though really, how unfair to the poor McDonald's workers, some of whom probably had no clue why this guy was spouting nonsense at them and freaking out over sauce. And also the poor other-folks in the line, some of them people on short lunch breaks who just want to grab a Big Mac and a fries and eat and get back to work....)

But yeah. Bad human behavior all around. One of my Operating Principles is "do not unjustifiably make life more difficult for others" ESPECIALLY if those others are lower-paid and harder-working than I am.

(I'm also laughing now thinking of the Tweet I saw yesterday that was fundamentally, "Look closely at how the person you're dating treats waitstaff" and...yeah. Lots of guys (the fans seem mostly male) probably not getting many dates now).

Though, in a more serious vein - considering that at least a few of those guys were fully willing to carry out a tantrum (whether mocked-up or real) to harass a McDonald's worker over a stupid dipping sauce....well, I hope and pray we never have genuine food shortages in this nation. I can't quite imagine. I admit I feel some degree of unsettledness when I walk into the wal-mart on a Saturday morning and see banks of empty shelves, but I can tell myself that that is because of their lackadaisical restocking policy, and that were I able to get to the Kroger I would find it well-stocked. (And even then: I have a stock of dry beans and canned fruit and rice and other things I could live on for a period of time if there was an interruption in trucking or some such).

But I also think of something else I vaguely remember from childhood: someone spoke at our church who had sponsored a Russian emigré, back in the Soviet era, to come to the US. (I don't remember details, and why he was allowed to leave, or if maybe he managed to defect). Anyway, she talked about how when her family first took him to an American supermarket, he broke down crying. He had not believed it was possible that so much food could be available, and so much choice. (I have since heard from others that Russian emigrés they knew had the same reaction). And I always thought about that, and was somewhat humbled by it - because I've only ever known that kind of abundance and choice and even in the bad days of the 1970s when we were eating the no-name generic stuff, still, we had an access to better and more variety of food than the average Soviet Bloc citizen.

And yeah....I don't know. I find it a little off-putting to think of a bunch of people throwing a fit over sauce. Even if they're doing it as a gag, because the effect is much the same (if I were in a restaurant, and someone jumped up on the counter, screaming, as in one video I saw, I wouldn't stop to find out if it was a joke or in earnest, I'd already have noped out of there assuming that "danger is coming").

But yeah: be nice to people in the service industry. Even with "service" in the name, they are not your servants, and they work too dang hard to put up with that kind of foolishness.


anita said...

I'm going to copy that too, and stick it on my refrigerator. Thanks for posting it.
There's a passage in The Rosemary Tree by Elizabeth Goudge: the person in question is bedridden with arthritis (this is in the 40s, just postwar) and she's thinking about prayer> She doesn't so much pray formally as hold a particular person (or group of people: for example, prisoners) in her thoughts that day.
I don't do a lot, because I just can't people most days, but I can do that. (In fact, I try very hard to limit my days away from home to three per week: two to visit Mom and Daddy, take food over, and bring them cat food or whatever from Walmart, which is too big and confusing for them to visit, and one more, maybe, for whatever other errands I need to run. I'm always SO glad to be back home, to walk in and luxuriate in the quiet. Nothing to hear but distant traffic down on the 5-lane, whatever insects are currently calling in the yard, and cats.)

You might enjoy her books. They're very comforting; things don't always end well, but they end rightly. I've been rereading them for nearly forty years now, and they always make me feel better. They are out of print now, but can be had on Alibris (where I got most of mine) for not much money (except a couple, which I don't have). Miss Goudge was English, born at the tail end of the Edwardian age, and lived and wrote through the 60s, I believe. Her autobiography, The Joy of the Snow, is worth reading too.

Also, re: television watching? I can't speak from personal experience, as I haven't had a television since the mid-90s and don't miss it, but my parents have three (three! why would anyone have three TVs?) including one in the kitchen so they can watch the news at supper. My mother watches the news EVERY DAY, religiously, and it upsets her most of the time. Why? So she 'knows what's going on.' She's 87; she can barely remember what day it is. Why does she need to upset herself watching the news while she's eatins?
I do not understand, but there are a lot of things I don't understand about people.

CGHill said...

I went through the drive-thru at Whataburger yesterday, and things took a little longer than I expected, though not terribly so. I got the impression that someone before me had behaved badly: the window crew seemed almost apprehensive, and I wondered if I, in my position as a white guy in a large automobile, had given the impression that I, too, might be a jerk. (There have been times when I have, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't this time.)