Humble Pie: Love, Part 3

This is Part 3 in the Love Series.  In Part 1,  I talked about how people (rather than issues) are responsible for the divisions we see in American politics today.  In Part 2, I discussed why it is so important to put Love first.

So… hi there.  My writer’s block is cured, in case you were over there biting your nails over my “problems.”  Guess what?  All it took was a really uncomfortable look in the mirror and a healthy serving of humble pie.

It’s like your mama said, “If you can’t speak on something without being self-righteous, rude and sarcastic, you probably shouldn’t speak at all.”  Or something like that.

What brought about this reminder?  Well, yesterday I was self-righteous, rude and sarcastic.  It felt great for about 1 minute.  And since then I’ve been sick to my stomach.

See, yesterday all over my Facebook feed when I woke up were 2 symbols: Dump Starbucks signs and red equal signs.  Most of my friends were upset over one or the other injustice and all of the sudden I felt overwhelmed.  Angry that this was in my face this week.  Frustrated that I couldn’t just let it go.   Unsure of what I was supposed to say, or whether I should just be quiet.

Above all, I felt pigeon-holed and misunderstood and just generally judged.  According to some, (my perception is that they think) I’m a bad person if I like Starbucks and don’t really care what the CEO said.  According to others, I’m a bad person if I don’t support sweeping same-sex marriage laws.   One way or the other, I don’t fit in any damn box and that felt really crummy.

So I did what I do best (correction: used to do best) on Facebook and I lashed out.  And then I signed off, another frequent tactic of mine. All day and all night I alternated between justifying my actions and feeling uncomfortably sorry.

Today the obsession continued, but I felt like I needed to apologize.  I went back on and tried, but I still don’t feel right about it.  I’ll be honest.  It was a half-hearted apology geared more toward assuaging my guilt rather than making anyone feel better.  Tonight, I went to Holy Thursday mass, with this whole thing stuck firmly in my head and still still still bothering me.  It wasn’t until I went to confession when finally the fog and downward spiral lifted, and it all became clear.

I shouldn’t have lashed out.  To any of my friends that I may have offended, I am very sorry.  On the other hand, this experience was very providential, because in stumbling and falling, I found the answers I was seeking.

How do we interact with others on controversial issues?  The issues themselves are complex and loaded with emotion.  And the relationships with those who have differing opinions make them even more so.  I do have some insight, as ill-gotten as it may be, but I can’t take credit for any of it.  Except for the stumbling and falling.  That part was all me.

True, Kind, and Necessary

I am not saying we can’t be passionate and fight for causes we believe in.  In fact, we certainly must speak out against injustice.  I’m simply suggesting that at the heart of every political issue is human dignity.  If we think before we speak, and apply the questions below to our actions and our speech, we have a much better chance of putting love first and making inroads into the divisions we face.

Before speaking (or in my case, typing) we can ask ourselves these three questions:

Is it true? Is what I mean to say the truth?  Is it verifiable, or is it something I wish was true?  If I’m posting a link to an article or a blog post, does it have the proper citations or does the author have the proper credentials?

Is it kind?  Is what I want to say gentle?  Will it hurt the person I’m speaking to unnecessarily?  Is there a kinder way to say it?  Most importantly, will it push this person or people away from me?  Am I putting love first?

Is it necessary?  Does this need to be said?  Is there another venue that is more conducive to debate, such as a private message or conversation rather than a public forum?  If I decide that it shouldn’t be said, what can I do instead?  Pray, ask for guidance from a trusted source, or vent to my spouse?  The list of not-speaking alternatives is long, and I certainly need to avail myself of more of them.

And finally, something that seems to be the most difficult for me given my Irish/German hot-headedness: Can it wait?  Can this flaming status update or email or blog post just sit overnight while I let my emotions settle and pray or meditate on what I really want to say without the stress flooding my brain?  In nearly every case, the answer to that is yes.

I hope you are better than I am about handling these tough topics.  Lord knows we don’t need any more temper tantrums like the one I threw.  If you have anything to add to the list above, I’d love to hear it.

In the meantime, have a blessed Triduum and if you think of, send up a prayer for me.  I’m still stumbling along this path of insecurity and humility and I need all the prayers I can get.

Comments

  1. Praying for you. I tend to have the opposite problem and never say anything. Even when in conversation, someone is promoting obvious evil, I don’t speak out. I hate controversy, which is one reason I will never ever be a face Booker. I seethe about things in private, which I think is even more unhealthy. I think I have missed big opportunities to stand for the truth because I felt like it was worthless and would only create more turmoil.