Posts Tagged ‘People’

Building a Better Habit

March 4, 2018

Both Musings from a Tangled Mind and Time Goes By writers occasionally start a post by announcing they are going to rant, the latter under the heading of Crabby Old Lady as the writer. I don’t recall having posted a rant before, and I don’t have an “alter” to credit as being the complainer. It’s just me, out of reflective mode and full force into objecting to conditions imposed by a combination of circumstances and thoughtless behavior.

I recognize that, in the larger view, what I find objectionable is minor, especially when compared to:

  • ongoing abuse by ICE
  • hideously frequent massacres of school children in the U.S.
  • kidnapping, rape  and enslavement of children and teenage girls in many locations around the world
  • dire poverty and lack of health care that is pervasive.

So many ills one cannot begin to encompass them all, let alone respond.

Maybe that’s why I feel able to post this rant – it is one that can be responded to by individuals, one here and one there, accumulating into a movement toward greater civility from which we will all benefit.

I already know that my feelings are shared by some of my age-mates, and I have read of the “expert” advice to parents to impose discipline on their children with regard to … banning cell phones at the dinner table, but that is only a small piece of the problem. Cell phones have, to my mind, magnified both positive and negative behaviors and are, mistakenly, made the target of praise and blame that belongs more properly to the users of those cell phones.

Hmm – I hear how that statement could be thought to echo ones by NRA supporters, about guns not being the problem when people are killed. I need to state clearly that my position is that, where human behavior is not well controlled, the tools for expressing that behavior – when it is harmful – MUST be controlled. Guns MUST NOT BE AVAILABLE to people who have not been proven to be able to handle them responsibly.

And cell phones should not be always available to people who misuse them. We then need to define what misuse means, which gets back to the underlying values and conduct which are the true target of my rant. Governments wishing to control and suppress freedom of citizens define misuse as any action that shows the government in an unflattering way. In those circumstances, using a phone to show the world pictures of torture and abuse makes the phone a tool supporting human rights. Uploading and posting a snuff video makes the phone a tool of pornography and human degradation. Cutting off ability to access the Internet and post pictures becomes either a step towards suppression of rights (as in Cameroon where the English-speaking regions are being systematically cut off from the world by a government in denial of the legitimacy of the regions’ grievances), or a step towards increased respect for human dignity (when sites regulate and bar degrading or abusive posts).

Hmm, I didn’t intend to get so much into a “big picture” analysis of the issue that is bothering me. But I guess it’s unavoidable, since my small issue is ultimately also a question of competing values, and what actions do or do not support dignity and respect for individuals.

Circumstances have forced me to tolerate a degree of uncertainty, of hanging around and waiting, and of being constantly interrupted that I am unable to experience as anything other than profound disrespect. Understanding the reasons for the experience has slightly mitigated my anger, and helped me to minimize directing it at an inappropriate target – but I remain angry. I suspect precisely because my little issue is not , as writing this essay is revealing to me, readily separated from the big picture abuses of individual, group and government actions that show  disdain for basic human rights.

If you say you will call me in an hour, call me in an hour. If you aren’t sure you’ll be able to call, tell me you aren’t sure you’ll be able to call. If you reach me, keep your attention on me, talk to me, listen to me – and if something comes up on your end of the call that requires your attention, either postpone it until we’re done, or take a moment to tell me you have to end the call and say goodbye. DO NOT just turn away and deal with the other issue without any explanation, leaving me talking to empty air, or hanging on the line not knowing what has occurred or how long you’ll be distracted. And if, as has been the case for me lately, making a connection is difficult then when one is finally achieved, give it priority. Otherwise you must want me to believe you really don’t much care whether we are in touch or not.

Okay, ego, you’ve had your say. Now recognize that you are not all that important. If I, the true I that is Soul, am in charge and living fully in the present moment, then whatever anyone else is or is not doing is irrelevant. You are not keeping me hanging, waiting – I am allowing you to do so. I can hang up the phone, keep the connection open and spend the time in contemplation, or choose to get angry at what feels like disrespect.

What I don’t have an answer for, is why that last emotional response is so powerful and hard to set aside in favor of one of the other more pleasant and healthful responses. Or more truthfully, I do know why – long habit and indoctrinated learning. I do not know as clearly why I continue to persist with a habit I don’t like, and wish to be rid of.

My spiritual teacher instructs that if you want a habit to fade, take your attention off it. Attention is food, and giving something attention encourages it to grow. I see that readily enough in others, and I recognize it in myself in this instance. I do hope that writing out the irritation will prove to be a means of separating myself from it and not a form of enhancing my attention to this grievance. The fact that I have already set it into the context of a broader values issue encourages me to think the separation is beneficial.

And in the way that shows me that I am graced, no sooner had I completed this analysis than a call I had been waiting for arrived.

Now, as to the troubles of the world filling that bigger picture with so much ugly news, it would seem a similar answer is available, and has been touted here and there but never adequately implemented. Give attention to the good, kind, caring things people do instead of the vicious and ugly ones. Find the Schindlers in today’s troubled world and broadcast their positive efforts. Do as one parent of a murdered school child requested – never again mention the name of the shooter. Instead speak often of those who rescued or saved their classmates and students, making those names known world wide.

Just as negative emotions grab my attention from a habit that has been hard for me to break, negative actions grab world attention in an equally rigid habit pattern. But as I, and others, one individual and one habit at a time, break the patterns by shifting our attention, so too we should be able to cumulatively shift attention on the broader issues, “accentuating the positive, eliminating the negative” and moving ourselves away from violence and hatred, towards mutual respect and greater harmony.

Baraka Bashad, may these blessings be.

 

Disconnects

November 17, 2013

It’s odd how easily what seems like a simple communication can be misunderstood. I received a spread sheet from one of the higher ups at my new job with a label of “Staffing and Skill Set”. It only listed two of the six areas in which I have skills. I replied with a query regarding why my other four skill areas were not shown. Then from a co-worker I heard that the spread sheet is meant to indicate the areas of specialty to which we are being assigned. OK. Those two are fine with me. I replied to the emailed spread sheet with that acknowledgement, only to learn from my manager that the sheet was indeed meant to cover all our skills. Full circle, confirming a gap in communication.

*********

This morning I tried to complete online registration for the 401(K) I’m eligible to participate in, through my new employment. The managing company’s form kept giving me error messages related to the amount of contribution I wished to make, although the money is already being deducted from my check in accord with a paper application I completed through my employer’s Human Resources office. The online form doesn’t provide options for non-traditional contributors like me, who are not restricted in size of contribution, due to already being over retirement age. Nor is there any way to communicate this information without waiting until next week to call and – presumably after punching lots of irrelevant buttons – hopefully reach a person with whom I can talk through my situation.

*********

Last week, I joined a group of my classmates (all career women, all aged early 40s and up) in the bar area of the hotel where we are housed during orientation. We were taking advantage of the free drink per person, and light snacks, offered by hotel management as a thank you for our extended stay. That evening was our last together, at the end of our five weeks of orientation, before we dispersed back across the state, to work from home.

We progressed from drinks to dinner, and from talk about our training and upcoming new responsibilities to more personal sharing of events in our lives. Unaccustomed to this sort of socializing, I mostly listened – and laughed at some of the wryly told stories. Young teen offspring wanting tattoos led to the revelation that the person we all thought least likely to have one actually had three. She showed them to us, discretely – breast, hip and lower back. Another woman stood to reveal her numerous decorations on legs, arms, neck, lower back – and one that remained hidden because she said she couldn’t reveal it without stripping off her top.

She did not hesitate, however, to offer up her (clothed) chest for “a feel” of her saline implant breasts in response to a query from the woman sitting next to her, who recently underwent a double mastectomy.

At this point, we became aware of the lone male in our vicinity (by that time the only other patron in the area) whose attention was fiercely glued to his smart phone. He appeared to be in his 50s, muscularly well-built and attractive, grimly determined to ignore the behavior of our cheerfully frank and laughing group. We did, briefly, consider inviting him to join us. Embarrassing? To him, or to us? No, just funny – and a reversal of experiences we have all had, being professional women who occasionally go alone into predominantly male environments.

*********

Direct deposit of pay is mandated in my new work environment. I expected to receive a pay stub, or some similar accounting of the allocation of my money, when the disbursement was made, but so far nothing has arrived. Maybe there’s a place within “my” portion of the employer’s website to find this data, but if so I haven’t been introduced to it yet. It is, for me, a singularly uncomfortable feeling that changes are being made to my bank account virtually without my knowledge. A lifetime of instruction on the importance of being in control of my financial status is totally undermined by processes that seem designed to “go behind my back” and wrest that control away from me.

Communication is connection.
A feeling of connection is important to emotional well-being.
Why then is so much of everyday experience so disconnected, misinterpreted, overlooked, or ignored?

ERRor, ErroR, ERroR, ErrOR


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