To many of us who hear the tragic news stories everyday and those that are filled with conflicts that arise between human beings along with stories of greedy self-interests that have dire consequences for innocent people, it seems that despair will soon overcome us completely. I know I see this reflected in some of the responses to the posts I put on my blog here and I share some of the sentiments about the concerns and foreboding that my posts reflect. But we also need to hear that all is not lost and our energies and efforts can still have a lasting impact for the better if only we allow ourselves.
In the midst of all the helplessness we read about, there are more than enough stories that also convey a sense of hope and renewal. Sadly though, the media sources that share those tragedies and shocking behaviors of a small group of people seldom put as much energy into those tales about the “milk of human kindness” that Lady MacBeth ironically found so distasteful. “If it bleeds, it leads” the journalistic stereotype conveys. Human interest stories that deal with the more positive aspects of our nature are reserved for the closing segments of a news broadcast.
For every human being that would bring us down to their dark vision of life today however, I feel certain there are ten examples of lives who defy the negative, pessimistic views that some hold. Since I am often responsible for reporting on things that can cause some to feel hopeless about our future I need to step back every once in a while, put my cynicism aside and reflect on the greater value of the human spirit that makes this life more meaningful than it seems at times.
What inspired this seldom expressed attitude on my part was a paraphrase of the original Dr. Seuss quote I printed at the top of this page found on a concrete park walk path I traverse nearly everyday (see below) as I try to maintain some modicum of healthy behavior to offset or prevent health issues I can ill afford as I grow older.
I usually walk early in the morning before the sun has fully illuminated the sky where all things are clearly what they are, as poetically attested to in the Moody Blue’s song, “Nights in White Satin”:
Cold hearted orb that rules the night
Removes the colors from our sight
Red is gray and yellow white
But we decide which is right
And which is an Illusion
One day I left on my 2 mile trek through the neighborhood, which this park is a part of, a little later than usual and was able to see, with better light, the chalked prose of Dr. Seuss’s upbeat assertion about the essential self inscribed on the walkway that circles the park. It struck me how careful someone had taken the time to express this sentiment that they knew other people like me would come across, hopefully, I suspect, to put a little sunshine for the soul in those who read it.
And so it did with me and thus I share with you. It often seems like it’s an “us” against “them”, dog-eat-dog world we live in today, but what makes life meaningful and contented is the knowing that we still matter as individuals. Individuals that can act and affect other individuals, one life at a time; maybe even two or more. What we need to hold onto and what I think this simple wisdom of Dr. Seuss’s is conveying is that “you”, NOT “them”, are fundamentally in charge of how the world not only looks but can be. If we are overcome with despair and hopelessness then we can’t act on those things we can change.
Dr. Seuss may have been the inspiration for the U.S. Army’s “Be All That You Can Be” slogan but the meaning is the same. Find solace in who you are and accomplish great things. Block off those negative attacks from despairing remarks that come from those who themselves have been overcome with it. When people like Rush Limbaugh attack a college co-ed as being a “slut” and a “prostitute” for expressing a genuine concern for what she feels is a woman’s health issue in our society, we all come under attack for having ideas and ideals that brow-beaters like Limbaugh feel are unworthy.
If talk jocks and extremist radio pundits can frighten and intimidate people like Susan Fluke and encourage their listeners to expand on the contempt and vilifications they parade across the air waves, then choices of this following become dictated by a handful of bullies who themselves more than likely suffer from a sense of inferiority. What mentally healthy person gets satisfaction from tearing other people down, then getting paid for it. Mentally healthy people are reasonably tolerant and defend their principles through open and honest debate, not by demonizing in a one-way exchange those who don’t share their views.
Our only defense is the assurance of what we think of ourselves and how we decide which is right and which is an Illusion. You are who you are by choice. If you don’t like yourself, change it by making different choices rather than letting others do it for you.
There now! Hopefully that ought to prop you up for a while. If not then take your own walk and let inspiration of such find you. Frustration is an inevitable part of the human experience but next time I publish something on my blog that deflates you a little or a lot, let it bounce off of that wall created by an inner strength that comes from knowing that total defeat is only possible when YOU allow it.