I’m sorry, I don’t speak chimp.

NikkoNoEvil4902

NikkoNoEvil4902 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever found yourself in a “discussion”, only to realize halfway into it that the other person is standing on the pulpit, and this is a one-way conversation?  If you have been out anywhere socially in the last year, or have a Facebook account, I’m going to wager that the answer is “yes”. It’s an epidemic. And my use of the term pulpit is not to imply that these discussions are exclusively religious in nature, but they are included.

What is going on? The 2012 presidential campaign has “descended into trench warfare”, attacks on mosques are a security concern, and a gay night club is attacked with fire projectiles.  And that’s just headlines from today.

It appears that we no longer have the capacity to see each other as worthy of a discussion. We resort to dismissive, hurtful, and even violent behavior all in the name of “being right.”

“…when we discriminate, prejudge, and/or take advantage of others for personal gain, we view and treat others as sub-human, and in doing so justify our behavior, for we value our own hopes, dreams, and aspirations as more important – or more human – than those of others.”

via Sub-Human: A Justification of Exploitation – Brian E. Konkol | Gods Politics Blog | Sojourners.

We have to be “so right” that we diminish another person’s existence to something akin to highly evolved chimps.

Where is this state of opinion coming from? How do we change this wave of perception that we are better than others, we are more right, and ultimately more important?  How can we reconnect our society, and make all members worthy of respect? 

How do we find our way back to discussion?

I think Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, has some insight in her speech The Power of Vulnerability on TEDTalks. I encourage you to watch it.

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I think, therefore you’re awesome.

It’s simple, people are pretty awesome.

I was driving the other morning and passed a rather large woman jogging, and I thought, “You are awesome. You decided that you want to make a change.”

I was at the lunch with my kid and sat near a dad having a solo lunch with his two kids under 3, and I thought, “Wow, you’re an awesome dad.  Never mind the meltdown, you made your kids’ day.”

I was reading a really well written blog post, and I thought, “Seriously, you’re an awesome writer.  You captured a moment in time with such humor it makes me want to follow your next post.”

This entry just as easily could have been about the person who cut me off on the freeway, the dog owner that left the “present” in my yard, or the woman who scowled and complained about the meltdown mentioned above, but it’s not.

I am choosing to believe that the person who cut me off on the freeway was racing to the hospital to see a dying friend, the dog owner just forgot the bag and will pick up someone else’s crap as karmic payback, and the woman who scowled had a migraine and will feel horrible about her reaction later.

I am no Dalai Llama, particularly when I get too little sleep and the coffee has run out.  I can road rage, cut off, sneer and snarl with the best of them.  That subtle scratch of my nose while you pass is done with one finger.  And that casual one finger lingering on the steering wheel while you pass, yes that’s for you.

But today is Monday. The beginning of the week, the start of a new hell adventure, a chance to do it differently.

Here is my Monday pledge:

Today, I will not get annoyed when milk is spilled, jelly ends up under my feet from an errant piece of breakfast toast.  I will not stress about getting out the door on time, we will get there when we get there, and my hair WILL be brushed.

I will think your parents didn’t teach you manners when you cut me, and every other driver, off just to shave 2.5 minutes off your commute, but instead of hating you with unabashed rage, I will feel sorry for you. And you parents. And your ex (because clearly you are shunned, alone, and bitter.)

I will do my best to keep my subtle finger gestures out of my day, I think the kids are picking up on them anyway.

I will try really, really, really hard to remember that, in general, people are pretty awesome.

Happy Monday, All!

Keep it subtle.

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