Wednesday, December 4, 2013


“And pictures of perfection, as you know, make me sick and wicked.” - Jane Austen

 It's been a harsh few weeks in the court of other people's opinions. We see it in the daily news, throughout the culture and realize we live in the age of snark. It infects our lives personally and professionally, and informs most things we ourselves regret. For all who have been crappy to others, the reasons are more about us than who we are "throwing under the bus." Then we awaken later, after being hurt ourselves, and realize what we have done to others ourselves. It's truly hard to discern who is building bad karma, when almost everybody has a bit of the stench themselves.

If we wanted to blow up the world, it could be simply done, All it would take is making public every e-mail ever written. If the mean and cruel commentary that e-mails contain hit the light of day, it's doubtful many relationships would survive.  The drawback of writing on the Internet, is that everything is easily taken absolutely literally. Much of human communication is about the tone of a voice or the nuances of non verbal expression. When an insensitive or unsympathetic comment sits there staring you in black and white, its extremely hard to accept it was not really meant.

Knowing that some other person’s opinion of us is unpleasant , reminds us that we’re just the same as everyone else. Others in the world do not view us in an objective way , or a compassionate manner. Some people will simply never be on our side, no matter how much we would like them to be.  For in the end, its very seldom about us. Its about another person and their issues.

It still hurts. We feel wounded that someone could actually know us and think of us poorly. We get embarrassed or damn them as vicious betrayers. Which, of course we all can be and are. We all have stick a knife in another back, even those we love the most. Anyone we know well can be irritating, a serial transgressor, unconscious of their flaws and incongruity  and anchored to the very things that often screw things them up the most. And we all are adept at pointing eachand every flaw out. 

Teasing may be a way of letting others know you see through their illusions.  Making mock of people from the shadows can be a way of bonding , reassuring others that all are correct in their mutually harsh judgements. More often than not, its simply mean. We all have had someone come up behind us, while engaged in saying something hilariously catty at their expense. The pain we inflict on someone else forces us to face some inconvenient truths about ourselves. That we might make fun of people all the time, even people who don't deserve it, who are beneath us in some social or professional order,  just to ingratiate ourselves with those seeming somehow more empowered.

What other people think of us is our business. In an era where millions can become instant publishers online,  what others think of us matters. We are told over and over again, that we are our own personal brands, making it imperative to control our online reputation, to do P.R. and spin control for ourselves.  It's easy to get into the trap of believing that we must be loved, respected, and taken seriously by everyone.

We carry interior complexity in ourselves.  We each have the talent for compartmentalizing and holding contradictions within. We can be capable of kindness and generosity, and of viciousness  and malice. We can be unkind and still be fond of someone, and we can be kind to people we cannot stand. Its a delusion to believe that 315 million other people in the United States are not doing the same thing. 

The concept of a "Judgement Day" when we pass on, is terrifying to most. Imagine a life review where we find out all the things anyone had ever felt about us, both good and bad. What's worse is that we have to hear all the worst things we have said and done,  before getting to the reasons for our redemption at the end. There is no way most would go down such a path if still alive, but there's not much of an option when we are transitioning. For if we want the rewards of living forever we will have to submit to the ordeal of our entire stories being known. It's better to prepare for that time while we can, and start by cutting all others a break. Chances are, we are going to need a bit of  grace for ourselves.