Archives for posts with tag: don’t be a dick

It’s morning again. I’m okay with that. I even find something to appreciate about the week hours when the world still sleeps and a mere handful of other humans are awake. I just heard a car going by. It’s very quiet this morning. The sky is just lightening, and appears to be a vague, soft, lavender steely gray, hinting at a cooler morning. No real knowing what the day holds – there was a time when that would have troubled me a great deal.

Today I am content. Sipping coffee. Thinking “about” nothing much. Taking some time for me. Feels good.

The titular “doing better” isn’t given any context in any specific way, because I’m honestly not sure quite what my meaning is. Maybe I mean I’m doing better? I’m definitely feeling pretty good this morning. Also, though, and this is important – “doing better” (than I am, than we are…) is a thing worth doing, and certainly I think, and talk, about that rather a lot. So… there’s that. Then, there’s “doing better”, where the emphasis is on the doing, rather more than it is on “better”, that reminder that there are verbs involved to get there seems pretty relevant in a world where so many people seem so very focused on doing less, more easily, with greater convenience and less effort. The doing – both the what, and the how, matter. We could do better. I know I could do better.

It’s a morning. The sky is a not-quite-indigo, like favorite faded denim. It’s time for another coffee, and some verbs. There’s an entire day ahead, and then… the weekend. A busy one at home, filled with visits with friends, chores, errands, and a photography gig… and at least one or two chances to begin again. So many verbs. LOL

What will I do this weekend to do better? Better than yesterday? Better than I have? Better than I see going on around me? How will I make the world just a little better? I smile to myself at the obviousness in this moment right here, because sitting here quietly with my coffee it seems so easy; I will be kind, helpful, compassionate, and treat human beings as human beings. I mean, if that was a universal approach, how much nicer would life be for how many more people? Just don’t be a dick to people. Don’t be cruel. Don’t put process (or laws) over humanity, use it, instead, to support humanity.

…Damn… I hope it is as easy as it sounds, from the vantage point of a quiet morning. 🙂

Are you ready to change the world?

We can begin again. Together.

Hell, not only is this not about “perfect” – it’s not even about “better than you” (and I’m not). I’m walking my own path. I’m made of human. You’re made of human, too. We can help each other out, do better in a shared effort, as a community of humans, or… not. I’m going to do better than I did, generally, every day ahead of me that I can. It’s an effort of will, and requires awareness. I’m not perfect. Being fully made of human, I’m not sure I can even know the form of “perfection”, or aspire to whatever that may be – but I can “better myself”. You can, too, if that’s your choice. The way I see it, if we care to make it so, it can be a shared process among connected individuals, in our families, communities, schools, and tribes. “A social contract”, if you will. Oh hey – that’s already a thing. We already make those agreements as a culture, every day, from the Constitution, to our traffic laws.

We can do better. So… Let’s do that.

Where can we begin? Wheaton’s Law (“don’t be a dick”) is a good starting point, I rely on it heavily, and I do my best to comply with it until it feels almost like a law of nature, more than a suggested rule of personal best behavior.

Another extraordinary improvement, generally, for me, has been learning consideration. That’s a harder one. I see so little of it around me day-to-day, I’ve begun to wonder if it amounts to “advanced adulting”. It means what it says; consider your words, your actions, your thinking, your intention, your purpose – give all the things due consideration. Consideration is the opposite of both thoughtlessness and callousness, and is an extension (and increase in depth, perhaps) of courtesy, politeness, and “manners”, but without the rigid rule-setting. “Manners” sort of require that you have an understanding of what to do in a given situation, you see, and consideration more easily allows one to roll with changes and remain well-mannered, even in circumstances you have no experience with.

Words have meaning.

If you’re laughing when you tell people you’re “a dick” and proceeding to humorously treat people poorly, you’ve probably missed on both Wheaton’s Law and consideration. You may want to take another look at that; is this who you truly hope to be?

If you’re a white person, and you still think saying “the N word” is amusing, or acceptable in any way, at any time, for any white person… yeah, you may want to check yourself. You’ve definitely failed on both Wheaton’s Law, and consideration. You may have overlooked that what you think about that word is not the salient point, at all.

If you’re a male human being, and you are still treating women as property and denying them agency and humanity (dude, seriously? it’s 2018), yep, you know where I’m going with this – you could do better. It’s neither compliant with Wheaton’s Law, nor is it considerate. Actually – it may well be the rotten core at the heart of our cultural apple.

How is it we’re all still working so hard to build good lives, as good people, and managing to fail to be good people so often? When do we change that? When do we each embrace a desire to become the human beings we truly want to be? I think it’s in the mirror, personally. I know that when I am focused outward on what you could do to change, I am not thinking so clearly about what I want to do to change. It’s not that it’s an either/or thing, but… it’s pretty easy to stop doing the work, and if my effort and attention are on your behavior, it’s probably not on mine. 🙂

This is a disturbing, rather sad, trend line.

…I do look up once in a while, and see what the world is up to. I’m occasionally taken by surprise to hear a man I hold in high esteem say something vile and heinously insensitive to, or about, women. Gross. I’m shocked into speechlessness that quickly becomes pity and disappointment when I hear white people using “the N word” as though they don’t understand how incredibly disrespectful and insensitive that is, and how much hurt that word contains. I’m puzzled when I observe seemingly good friends treating each other really really badly – causing actual emotional damage to each other, and then forcing themselves to laugh it off in a way that highlights the mutual discomfort. What the fuck, folks? Do better. Just.Do.Better. It’s not hard.

Here are some easy steps to doing better as a human being – trust me, this works:

  1. Consider your day yesterday, and any awkward moments, uncomfortable moments, and moments when you said/did something you didn’t feel really good/comfortable about.
  2. Don’t do that any more.

Wow. Change is easy! Wait, you don’t like the steps to be so personal, or self-critical? Okay, okay, I can work with that too:

  1. Consider a moment when you recently had to set a clear boundary or express one more firmly with an associate, friend, family member, or stranger.
  2. Don’t do that thing you pushed back on, yourself, going forward, to any other human beings.
  3. Respect their boundaries, too, when they set them with you.

So easy! Still too personal? (Hey, I get it, it’s “not always your fault”, sure…)

  1. Read something online.
  2. React to that thing in an unpleasant way in which you find yourself silently objecting to the reported language/activity/behavior.
  3. Don’t do that thing, use that language, or model that behavior, yourself.
  4. Indefinitely.
  5. Set boundaries about it with others, don’t be complicit in poor behavior.
  6. Keep practicing.

Change isn’t hard. It’s a choice. There are verbs involved. Perfection isn’t a thing. Practice is required. We’ve all got to begin again. And again. Our results will vary. We become what we practice – good and bad. When we work on it together, we get ahead faster. Funny how that works.

Are you ready to begin again? I know I am. I’ve got work to do, to become the woman I most want to be.

Be who you are. I say it. Other people say it. I think when it is said, it’s generally well-intended, and a sincere expression of an understanding of being that implies being all of the best of who we are, and hopefully still contains a kernel of awareness that reducing ourselves to our own worst qualities, as we understand those ourselves, is not at all the intention. But… just in case… I’ll go ahead and say that, too; being who you are implies being who you are wholly, with skill, and with your fundamental good-nature and humanity intact. Don’t just dissolve in a heated moment, becoming your inner most slime mold. lol That’s less… yeah. It’s less. Less well than you could choose to do. Less pleasant among all your character qualities. Less ideally you than even you would have you be. Yep. Still a shit load of verbs involved there, and some willful decision-making, and the needs to manage your chaos and damage with a modicum of adulting – and you will fail. Sometimes. Other times, you will rock the shit out of all that adulting, and friends and loved ones will be astonished by your general awesomeness and ability to love and treat others well. Mostly, I’ve found, I fall somewhere between those two extremes, day-to-day. Doing my best. Capable of improving on that. Working to improve over time, and become more the woman I most want to be.

Authenticity is a big deal. You really are you, and not someone else. Becoming the person you most want to be isn’t about faking something, or wearing a mask, or playing dress up. When I say I want to become the woman I most want to be, I mean in all the best ways I see myself, and then maybe improving on that – in a bunch of other ways I would like to see myself, but don’t yet, because I’m legitimately not that, yet. We become what we practice. If I want to be accepted as being gracious, calm, and loving, it is necessary for me to practice actions and behaviors that are gracious, calm and loving. Those qualities don’t become “who I am” until there has been so much practice, sufficiently skillfully, and entirely sincerely, that over time the behaviors themselves become my default behavior, and the thinking behind them has become, over time, my natural way of thinking. Am I “faking it” in the meantime? Nope. I’m practicing. Still has to be “the real deal” – I can’t grit my teeth, clench my jaw, and go through the motions (that’s not practicing a behavior, that’s enduring having to comply with a commitment, perhaps, but it’s not “practice” – which requires a certain amount of “buy in” and willingness to change). “Fake it to make it” isn’t a thing I do, myself, because I don’t think that works for me. The key is in the word “fake”. I prefer to rephrase that well-meaning sentiment as “we become what we practice”.

Don’t be fake. Get real.

Who do you most want to be? Behave as though you are already that person – because those behaviors align to your values. (If they don’t, is that really who you want to be, or are you just saying that because someone else wants that of you? Something to think about.) Sure, there is awareness and effort involved, and every day choices matter a lot. It helps, too, to have an understanding of who you already are. Ask the hard questions of yourself. Look yourself in the eye and call shenanigans on your own bullshit – leave all those other people out of it, they’ve got their own hard mile to walk.

Being authentically this person that I am doesn’t permit me to be nasty to people and just say “well that’s who I am, accept me” in any comfortable way (I’ve seen a lot of people take this strategy, though). I find, instead, that it forces a certain uncomfortable obligation to be authentically vulnerable about where I could improve, or change, based on my own understanding of myself and what I want of me. Yep. Being authentically me, accepting of myself, and non-judgmentally aware of “who I am right now” doesn’t alleviate the burden of self-reflection and personal growth, and it doesn’t allow me to break my social contract with the world (which is basically an agreement to treat others well, based on certain common standards). What it does do is place my growth and progress in life in my own hands, based on my own choices. I can choose to be the worst of what I am capable of – or the best – or I can fall somewhere between the extremes. I can choose to progress, to do nothing, or to fall behind. I can act using my own will and agency, or allow learned helplessness to stall me in the moment. All choices. I can choose authenticity – or I can choose to go through the motions, resenting my lot in life.

Thoughts on a Wednesday morning, as I prepare to begin again. Real-ly.

…Or maybe even just care.

I’m sipping my coffee. Scrolling through social media. I’m stunned by the quantity of anger, of propaganda, of knee-jerk reactions to both of those – I’m stunned by how often and how easily I am, myself, baited.

I reach a repeat of a meme that is some version of the “I don’t know how to convince you to care about people” meme. It’s one that resonates with me. Why are we even still trying to convince each other? Well, obviously; because we do care. But.

(And it’s a big but)

We’re each having our own experience. Some people really don’t care about other people at all. That’s real. It’s who they are. It’s who they choose to be. They practice that whole not caring thing, daily. Other people care so much, so hard, so publicly, that they become an abstraction of caring, a caricature of caring, an advertisement for caring – so emotionally invested in the pain of the whole world that they become immobilized with grief and outrage, and all of that without actually acting on their caring, except, possibly, through some Facebook posts, Tweets, and charitable online donations, with just enough energy left over to shame others who appear to care less. Some people care less publicly. They care quietly. They care privately. They help when and where they can. They don’t talk much about it. Maybe they don’t think their effort is enough, or that it doesn’t really matter. (Of course, it matters if you are a person needing help, right?) Maybe they worry that if undefined mobs of people know they care, they won’t have enough resources to share that caring with all of them. Some people help those they love, and only those they love. Others help only strangers. (Fuck family and friends, don’t they have jobs??* Those losers…*) Some people care, and help, and support, and nurture, and really deliver on their commitment to care… except for themselves. There is, as with so many other human behaviors, a definitely spectrum, a range, an assortment, a real variety of choices and experiences.

I sit sipping my coffee and thinking about who I am in the context of caring about others. Where do I fit in? Is it “enough” – from my own perspective? Do I “wish I could do more”? Is that something I can manage more efficiently? Considering the matter of “caring” – do I communicate well and clearly, expressing my appreciate, my gratitude, my loving concern, my support? Could I do that better? Is there someone yearning for my time, my presence, my help, my companionship, that I’ve been overlooking? Someone I could reach out to, who needs me? Am I giving myself enough of my time, enough of my effort, enough of my good-natured regard and consideration?

We can care without spending a dime. We can be considerate of others without giving more than a moment to slow down and really be aware of the needs and experience of other people in the moment. We can be present. We can make a point to understand, and experience compassion for, circumstances we’ve never endured. We can listen deeply – what a priceless treasure to really be heard by another human being.

I smile and sip my coffee. Of all the things I am learning in life, the most cherished detail may be learning to love, to care, to consider, to listen, to share a human connection with another traveler on life’s journey for some little while. To experience and understand things that aren’t “about me”. Today is a good day to care and to love. Today is a good day to change the world – even just this tiny corner.

Today is a good day to begin again. 🙂

 

 

*that was sarcasm – seemed worth pointing that out in this instance to avoid confusion.

I guess it does not “go without saying” that we can care for ourselves well, and also treat others well. There are certainly some moments in humanity’s “blooper reel” that highlight how easily we lose sight of that in practice; we can be well and also do good. Apparently Marriott’s slip and fall moment involved a passenger ship, and an opportunity to rescue human beings from an island after a hurricane devastated it, with another on the way. Instead of rescuing everyone they could, they rescued only their own hotel guests, and left with capacity for hundreds of other human beings, also in dire need of rescue. Go ahead. Google it. I’ll wait.

The justification for leaving human beings behind, stranded, without support, services, and in some cases without even shelter was… “policy”. Yep. Their hands were tied by “policy”.  Their own policy. Let’s just admit right now that we all recognize what bullshit that is, most particular in times of humanitarian crisis. “Policies” are entirely arbitrary rules made up by people to account for most circumstances, and enforced through a filter of ordinary biases and willful exception-making (when it seems expedient). Using a “policy” to justify mistreating people isn’t okay. It is, in fact, cruel bullshit. Don’t be a dick. Don’t be one of the Marriott’s of the world. It isn’t necessary, it isn’t helpful, it isn’t kind, and it has no value to anyone outside the shareholder class, who (surprise!) may profit from it financially. Fuck that bullshit. Do better. Do good.

Take care of yourself. Definitely do this. Treat yourself well – and do it because you matter, too. I found it more challenging to learn to treat myself well than I expected to; I fought myself every step of the way. I didn’t understand that mistreating myself undermined my ability to treat others well, and also limited my compassion for others. It’s been an interesting journey with the woman in the mirror. We weren’t exactly friends 5 years ago. I put up with her bullshit. She put up with mine. We treated each other badly.  It was a daily battle to get through all of my self-imposed obligations, responsibilities, tasks and chores, and… I had nothing left for me, and wasn’t doing much of value for anyone else, as it turned out. Awkward. I was just working hard at going through the motions. Life felt pretty empty, and chasing happiness wasn’t getting me any closer to it.

Let go of a few self-imposed “rules” and “policies”! Treat yourself and others truly well (shit, that sounds like a rule, or a policy, right there… lol). No guarantees that “happiness” will follow, although I find helping people fairly gratifying personally, maybe that isn’t you (yet). We become what we practice; if you practice treating people badly, you become a bad person. Just saying.

Too many of us Marriott our way through our lives. Managing clear boundaries becomes living by a set of restrictive rules used to exclude others from our experience pretty easily. Refusing to help because it is inconvenient, or may have some potential for personal risk, says a lot about how we feel about our fellow human being – and how we feel about ourselves. How tightly swaddled in your privilege are you? Do you know the names of the cleaning crew at your office? If you’re part of the cleaning crew at an office, is it comfortable to smile and make eye contact with “the suits”? When was the last time you reached across a social or economic chasm to say hello to another human being, without regard to what they can do for you? Are you making a practice of averting your eyes from the homeless? Do you turn your back on uncomfortable strangers riding public transit so you don’t feel the pain of not giving up your seat to someone who needs it more?

No one can do “everything” for everyone. Most of us have resources enough for our own needs, our families, perhaps if we are fortunate, for our extended families as well. I get it; it feels like there isn’t enough to go around. There is though – because small gestures matter, too. Ask people in distress if they are okay. That’s a good beginning. Then listen. That’s some great follow through. Maybe you can help. Maybe you can’t help. Sometimes people need a connection more than a solution. 🙂 Sometimes though, you will have the solution, and the resources, and the time, and it’s all right there… don’t be Marriott.

Our choices can change the world. Isn’t it time to begin again?