Friday, April 2, 2010

Being Good for Good Friday

Good Friday is a day of penance and fasting. We abstain from eating meat. It is a solemn day for observant Catholics.

I’ve abstained from eating meat for each day of the past 22 years. I haven’t been observant for more than 30 years. Yet, I like the idea of a day set aside for contemplation. I no longer spend any time thinking about the meaning of a resurrection but I do like the idea of contemplating where I’ve erred.

Not that I’ve spent the whole day in contemplation. Having the day off, I did spend some time picking up around the house and sorting some receipts. And tonight I’ll be seeing a play. But still, I managed to get in some time for some guilt and recounting of my sins.

Nothing like a good old-fashioned Mea Culpa.

They’re always the same sins. My sins are usually sins of omission. They usually take the form of a failure of compassion or empathy or a failure to show respect. Sometimes they are one in the same, my failure to empathize combined with a failure of respect has manifested in what I was recently told by a friend to be my most salient characteristic.

“Did you know that when we think of you, the phrase that most often comes to mind is ‘I don’t understand how anyone could like/dislike (insert anything number of items here).” Apparently I am consistently intolerant of the views/opinions of others. Fancy that.

My intolerance can be directed at anything. “I don’t understand why anyone drinks beer.” “I don’t understand why anyone would vote Republican.” “I don’t understand why anyone would buy a home in a new housing tract.” “I don’t understand why anyone would have that many children.” “I don’t understand why anyone would live in that part of the state.”

You get the idea. I have strong opinions. That part is no secret. What surprises me is that it seems that I express myself almost exclusively in this way. It seems that I am not known for welcoming the ideas, thoughts or opinions of others. Yes, I knew that. What I hadn’t realized is that I so vociferously object to choices that differ from mine.

Lie. I did realize that. What I didn’t realize is that others had so taken notice.

So, to recap, failure to empathize and failure to respect are my downfalls. As in this post.

I wrote about those whose lifestyle choices differ from mine and an anonymous commenter called me on it. I do think that reader misinterpreted my tone. Perhaps wherever she is from, people write with irony-free sincerity. Not here. Well, what can I do? I have a case of congenital snarkiness. It runs in the family and I am not the family’s worst practitioner. You know who you are.

I just know someone is going to call me out on the beer thing. I’ll just say that at a young age I developed opinions about beer. I can’t let go of them now.

So . . . back to my sins. On the radio today I heard a host discussing with guests a new theatre project in the softest, most supportive and sweet natured of tones. This person really wanted to encourage and support the artists he was interviewing.

I didn’t buy a word of it. It sounded like a lot of New Age talk, where everything is supposed to be positive and upbeat. But I’d heard a song from the production that was the subject of the discussion and honestly, it was just dreck. And maybe somebody should have told them it was just dreck before they started selling tickets to the thing.

I think I can be supportive when something is worthy of my support. But I cannot speak that New Age Speak. I cannot be positive about everything. Considering my background, I’m lucky I can be positive about anything.

And no, I don’t understand how or why anybody would live in one of those beige cookie-cutter tract homes and I don’t understand why anybody with limited financial resources would have so many (or any) children and I don’t understand why anybody who truly cares about this country would vote for a party that seems determined to undermine our basic Constitutional rights and to consistently support acts of aggression in foreign lands.

Ah. Empathy. Respect. Tolerance.  The challenges for the year ahead.

Wishing you a peaceful Easter.


brismod said...

I can just visualise the comments you will get from this post! If you ask me, a bit more empathy, respect and tolerance never goes astray...for everyone. (Just because I don't say things, doesn't mean I don't think them!) I hope you have a good Easter. x

Why S? said...

Thanks, Brismod. I may not get any other comments at all. Maybe I've sickened everyone with all my pointless, lefty self-reflection. Or maybe people just have things to do.

Have a good Easter yourself.

NV said...

Actually, this made me laugh -- because I read much of what you were saying in a different voice: mine!

I have always been a pragmatist or realist (read: "not overly positive"). During the past decade, I've taken great pains to find an often elusive bright side. There are just some things though that, based on FACTS, cannot be made all bright and shiny. At least not for those of us who don't believe in fairytales.

I've gone quiet many times where once I might have offered up a bit of snarkasm instead. I find myself offering the terminally negative a tablespoon of optimism.

But leopards don't change their spots. I'm honest about my darker leanings. Clearly, you are, too! I'd say that's a plus. :-)