I love reading the stories about the “No 1 Ladies Detective Agency” by Alexander McCall Smith. Not only are the stories wonderful but there is enormous wisdom contained in each one. He writes about a time, in Botswana, when the “old ways” were being eroded by new ideas. The wisdom of the old culture is being replaced by less caring and courtesy….less connection with your “brothers and sisters.”
The loss of that kind of culture has been left behind a long time ago in my world. I am sure it is the result of many changes…..people leaving the land and moving to cities, not knowing your neighbors, having no relatives close by….etc. etc. It is unfortunate that this has happened. Things were not perfect in the past but I do think the world around me was more courteous.
My daughter spent time in Japan as an exchange student. She became aware of the courtesy of the people and their respect for others. Their world is also not perfect but I think living so close together has created an environment of an awareness of personal space and respect for others feelings. I hope that it is not eroding there also.
Courtesy is a gesture of kindness to others. Saying please and thank you are not outdated. Respecting others feelings shows caring. I see so many acts that express an attitude of thinking only of oneself. Cars drive in our neighborhood with radios blaring so loudly it surely damages the ears of the driver. People step ahead of you in line and glare at you when you seem surprised.
It has become quite common for cell phones to ring in places that are not appropriate. People answer their phones while eating with others ignoring those they are with.
I know I am seeing things from a different perspective but courtesy improves our environment. As the population grows we will be living even closer together. Will we end up hating each other for our attitudes or will we finally learn how much kindness matters?
Our society expects us to maintain a facade. We must never seem broken or fragile. Society sees this a weakness. Underneath all of that the reality is that it is frightening. If you are shattered maybe that will happen to me.
Think about how we greet people. “How are you? I’m fine.” We may be suffering but oh dear we better not share it. I have heard people respond “not okay” and the other person doesn’t even acknowledge what has been said. Too often we don’t want to hear it. It might draw us into the pain and suffering that we don’t want to see.
In truth, most of us are balanced on a precipice and feel that a little shove might push us over. We wouldn’t want anyone else to see this as that would diminish us in their eyes.
Most of my life people have sought me out to share their fears and their pain. I don’t think I am at all special. It is because I have never hidden my own wounds and am willing to open myself to others. I’m not sure why I am this way but it is who I am. Being this way is not always comfortable but it has given me the opportunity to show compassion and love.
Never be afraid to share your true self. Some will turn away but it is their own fears that cause that. Showing others how you have learned and continue to move on will give them hope.
One day, a while back, I was at the beach and in the bright sunlight I happened to look at something with only one eye open. I saw the color of the object clearly. For some reason I closed that eye and looked through the other one. The object’s color was a different hue. It could still be called the same color but there was a remarkable difference. That’s when it hit me that not only do we each see color differently but our eyes can see things differently.
None of us sees things in the same way. Each of us brings with us our lifetime of experiences. The things we have seen and been through have given us our own perspective. So how can I expect someone to grasp a problem in the same way that I do?
Years ago my husband and I went to marriage encounter. It is a wonderful program to enhance good marriages. We were taught a tool for getting closer to what someone else is feeling. It is hard to describe but is like bouncing back and forth “Does it feel like” until you find a common emotion to describe an event or issue.
For example I might say: does it feel like going to a friend’s funeral and the other person might respond no but it feels like your beloved dog died. I might then say I know what that feels like. It is frequently is a longer process but that is the idea. The whole things is based on discovering feelings.
I once knew someone who had great difficulty accepting a male image for God. I later found out she was abused by her father.
Getting to the root of someone’s feeling helps us to understand them. We can develop a bond with those who have suffered similar problems. That is why support groups work.
Here on Word Press we find support from others who really understand. The community is important. Thank you to all those who share feelings openly and offer support and understanding. You are important!
What we are taught from childhood on is what carves us into the people we are now. Children absorb not only what they are told but also what they see. Their world is their home and family. What happens there sets the path.
Have we been teaching children to think only of themselves?
Have we taught intolerance?
Have we taught hatred?
Have we belittled them?
Or have we taught love?
Education is not just what we learn in school. That is important and the more we learn the more we can understand about the world around us. The more we learn about the lives of others the less likely we are to be intolerant. However, learning in early childhood is crucial.
Every kind of education is necessary to make the world a better place. We must help families to teach their children well. We need to marry what we learn at home with what we learn of the world. The more knowledge the better. Never stop learning.
Tomorrow I go to do a Mediation. I volunteer as a mediator for court mandated (and sometimes chosen by people) help with settling problems. Doing this brings an interesting perspective to my own life.
Working with the cases I see opens a world where pettiness and anger are often primary. Money, of course, is at issue but sometimes the silliness is overwhelming. Compromise is not a word that most of the clients have any knowledge of. You would think that the aggravation of filing a suit, having to go to mediation, not settling and then going to court would make someone think logically.
In most cases that I have mediated logic has gone out the window and the opponents are functioning from feelings alone. (Of course this is not the case when the case is about money owed to credit card companies or others similar.) I am talking about two people who cannot settle their differences because of some underlying emotion.
Compassion, understanding and listening are important things to learn and use. Many times just listening allows us to hear what is underneath and find out where the real pain is. Listening to both sides is critical to the mediation process and in our lives. Real listening is truly absorbing not only what is being said, but what is not said.
I feel useful helping but I have also learned to value the opportunities that show up in my own life where kindness and understanding can defuse the problems. I can see the times where my own willingness to compromise has solved the issue. I am not patting myself on the back but being grateful for learning that, the majority of the time, there there are better ways to handle things than to file a law suit. Sometimes people just need to be heard. This requires someone actually listening.
This is a re-blog of something I wrote a while ago. It came up recently and so I thought it needed to be said again.
People can say stupid things. It is amazing to me that they don’t really think about what they are saying. When I ran a grief support group I heard some goodies.
You can have another baby (to someone who just had a miscarriage)
God needed another angel in heaven ( to someone who lost a child)
Your husband wouldn’t want you to be sad (to a new widow)
I’m sure things are better now (to someone whose wife died a few months ago)
God never gives us more than we can handle (to someone who lost two teenagers in an accident)
Everything will be alright (to someone diagnosed with a fatal illness)
Sometimes when we don’t know what to say we can fall into the trap of saying something stupid or offensive. We may not mean it that way but that is how it comes out. When people are going through tough times they don’t need to hear these kind of answers. They need to hear
Can I bring dinner by tomorrow?
I’m going to a movie tomorrow can I pick you up?
I am so sorry
I will call you soon (only if you really will)
Give a hug
Cry with them
Solid concrete help is what is needed. Only say what you mean. If you can help try to do something specific. Don’t just say “how can I help?” Instead ask if you can pick up children, run an errand, offer a day out. Each individual needs different things. You have to gauge what will help.
Most importantly offer compassion and love. Nothing is more needed. If you have suffered a similar loss you may understand better what they are going through but don’t assume it will be exactly the same. Just being there is critical. Don’t just say something…..do something!
I don’t know how many of you have good friends but I sure hope you do. A good friend, a lifetime friend is a treasure beyond compare. Most of us are blessed if there is one such person in our lives. Some people in our lives are friends and they may be kind a caring but they are still not the one who would back you up if the whole world was against you.
I have been thinking about this because three years ago in January I lost one of those friends. We knew the good and bad about each other and it didn’t matter. We didn’t live close for quite a while but on the phone it was as if we had seen each other the day before. Nothing ever changed the link we had with each other.
During her illness I was blessed to live close enough to help her and was with her when she faced her death. She was the kind of person who drew people to her and many mourned her passing. She, like me, was not perfect but she was my friend.
Following are some excerpts from Proverbs that have to do with a wife but they apply to her friendship with me also.
A good wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
20 She opens her hands to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
29 “Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”