27 January 2018

Do Not Forget the Good You Have the Power to Do

Today I read an article by Rachel Macy Stanford entitled "Am I Invisible? The Pain-Relieving Response to Being Rejected or Excluded".  She wrote it in response to the experience she and her young daughter had of being in a new environment with unknown people.  No doubt we have all found ourselves, more than once, in the situation Rachel describes.  But the wisdom she shares goes beyond the described circumstances.

Everyone is called on to deal with exclusion and rejection of all types, on a daily basis in some way or another.  We eventually become desensitized to it so that we can ignore it, or at least not over-react to it. Instead we move on about our business without allowing it to have undue influence in our lives.   It is no biggie if we smile at someone who is too preoccupied to notice.  However, it is not that, but the unkindness of others which is the context of the article.

I have never entertained the thought of being an unkind person who must be avoided.   And I truly do not like that being unkind may be demanded from time to time in order to have needed time and space for dealing with issues that demand undivided attention.  It is something I do not want to have to be and do not want to push others into being because of me.  But a friendly kind word or gesture without being overly effusive can be welcome to anyone - including at times when a person needs space - without conveying unintended excessive neediness that threatens invasive attachment.

This article demonstrates why, throughout my entire adult life, I have ordinarily chosen to find the courage to be friendly (without being overly effusive) - even at the cost of it being misinterpreted by some.  And sometimes it actually does require courage because it could be misinterpreted.  However, I have found those who choose to misinterpret are most often those who most need the warmth of a heartfelt kind word.  Or they are ill-intended users who want to take advantage of kindness because they equate kindness with ignorance.  But that is not addressed in the article nor will I address it, here.

Take away from the article:

1) Use people’s hurtful actions as opportunities for self-growth.

2) Unkind treatment becomes a means to gain awareness and compassion.

3) Don't forget the good you have the power to do.

Finding the silver lining in unkind words and actions is a process of making lemonade out of lemons.   This does not excuse or condone repetitive intentionally unkind words and actions of others nor the ill intent behind them.  However, particularly at times when we are sensitive, like when we are the new kid on the block, the process of at least minimal self-introspection because of unkind words, can help us to deal with them whether the unkindness is intentional or unintentional.

This article clearly demonstrates why we can not allow repetitive unkindness to create feelings of bitterness, resentment, isolation, and an uncaring attitude which are all, of course, the destructive nature and intent of anyone's repetitive unkindness.  Sanford's point is that we do not need to be wounded by a lack of kindness, nor direct the same unkindness back to its owner. 

I suggest that we also need to consider that intentional repetitive unkindness is actually an effort to destroy something about us the unkind person imagines we represent which is perceived as threatening - perhaps to a cherished personally held belief. Although it is beyond the scope of the article,  I feel compelled to mention that repetitive unkindness also instructs us about who to avoid interacting with when it becomes clear that anyone is repeatedly directing unkind words our way.   We do not need to be repeatedly distracted from what we must accomplish in life by anyone endlessly demanding of us that we make lemonade out of their unkind words.

So, I echo the advice in the article that regardless of how anyone treats you, "do not forget the good you have the power to do."  A kind word when most needed is like a love-bomb creating endless ripples throughout space and time with its universal positive effects - truly.

19 January 2018

Skilled News Reporting: Brief and Accurate with a Dose of Good Humor!

I enjoy a traditional and characteristic British sense of humor.  My Dad had mastered it and he appropriately applied it,  from time to time, in simultaneous instructive and entertaining ways . . .  also intended to be humorous in its oft intentionally out-of place quasi-formality - sometimes in juxtiposition to clichéd folksy informality (the nature of our Americanized version of British humor, at least, which is more or less in recognition of our lack of royalty in America through the use of  skillful application of a word or two of the Queen's/King's English, and sometimes also a folksy cliché).  In fact so too had Dad's siblings mastered humor in the same way.  As such it become a familial trait which we in the next generations are also obliged to master . . . . at least to some functional extent . . . as a long-standing family tradition.

In this case what caught my attention was a news commentary on the "entente cordiale" about today's Anglo-French summit at Sandhurst military academy, characterized as a European/African defense and intelligence initiative.  I found the French terminology to be satisfyingly precise about the nature of the goings-on which is what first caught my attention.  "Aha!"  I think, "this promises to be actual news reporting which perhaps is also entertaining"  My supposition soon proved to be true because the report was brief and in the form of just-the-facts-ma'am, accurately and entertainingly presented!  (Here is a lengthier more detailed account of the "landmark summit" from the BBC:  "What now for UK-France security relations?")

Of course there was an underlying Brexit association in the short commentary which caught my attention, providing ample subject matter for further display of the British sense of humor.  With a smile in his tone of voice, of course, the British commentator mentioned the French President's "embroidered charm offensive" regarding France lending Britain the 11th century Bayeaux Tapestry. (see note below) He then stated the obvious (in traditional what, why, where, when, and how form) that the lending of the tapestry is in recognition of the fact that Britain does not always get it's way.  (For those not into that particular history, the tapestry is a historical treasure - a recorded account depicting the Norman conquest of Britain.)  Yes!  No disappointment here - entertaining and skilled reporting. (Here is a lengthier more detailed account, from The Guardian, of the lending of the tapestry - which is a big deal: "Emmanuel Macron agrees to loan Bayeux tapestry to Britain".)

Illustration from a section of the Bayeux Tapestry
Harold's brothers Gyrth and Leofwin are killed - carnage on both sides


With the same humor, displaying a typical British awareness of attitudes without reacting dramatically to them (always a good diplomatic maneuver) the British commentator went on to suggest that even though the nature of the cooperative Anglo-French  get-together was to confirm the enduring nature  and benefits of Anglo-French military, economic, and cultural ties, the EU will continue to protect the privileges of the trading bloc against U.K's desire to have its cake and eat it too. 

The commentator again had stated the obvious (and again with a smile in his tone of voice)  in terms of Britain seemingly wanting to enjoy the benefits of the EU without membership - thus leaving us with a "let them eat cake" adieu in the form of a British culinary charm offensive - simultaneously self-depreciating in its humility - another aspect of the skillful application of the British sense of humor.

It must be noted that the news report was on the China news channel during the African news segment.  How's that for multicultural and multinational?  Good on you, China!

note:  In the spirit of credit where credit is due, I feel compelled to mention that Embroidery has a long history, reputed to be at least since Cro-Magnon days some 30,000 years ago.  However, only after the Crusaders had started pillaging and plundering the Eastern Mediterranean did embroidery became popular in Europe.