The fact is…

That people are being gas-lit every day.

That the environment is getting worse.

That we’re only a few steps away from reenacting The Handmaid’s Tale.

That subjugation and merciless violence continue unabated.

That the rights, freedoms, and unnamed liberties that some segment of Americans take for granted remain elusive or unrealized for millions more.

And the fact is… the majority of people in a position to change things don’t care.  At least enough to actually get out and do something about it.

What’s true or factual doesn’t matter anymore, in light of what these same people in their positions of power believe.  Belief has overtaken consideration or reasonable inquiry.  The belief that doing the least harm and the most good has been abandoned.  Greed and selfishness have overridden common sense.

Instead of building a longer table and working harder to uplift, we’re constantly being sold on the virtues of self-centered and illiberal belief structures.

Screw you, I got mine.

Gotta stick it to the Libs!

Are you triggered yet, snowflake?

And instead of being able to have reasoned discourse, the response is to treat that attempt at discourse as an affront–an attack on the very values that the victim claims to hold sacrosanct.

The fact of the matter is this: not everyone can be reached.  No amount of data, reasoned discourse, or inquiry can have an impact on those who choose not to be reached.  The ones who have already made up their minds have made them based on a flawed world-view and without empathy.

Do you expend energy reaching out to them, constantly being rebuked and further entrenching them in their recursively-reductive positions of scarcity and fear?

Or do you instead reach out to the ones who haven’t yet made a decision?  To the ones that are looking for a compelling argument as to why they matter, why their friends and family matter, and why they should care about others who aren’t yet their friends or family?

That’s the question that’s screaming for an answer.  That’s a fact.

Rationalizing your past

Many times in a life, there comes a reckoning of sorts.  A time when viewing the past through the lenses of experience and brutal honesty becomes more than an activity–it becomes a way of life.

Sometimes, but not always, suffering comes galloping in on the most pale of horses and lays waste to an otherwise copacetic life.  Rooted in the collision of prior expectations and perceived reality, it can rip us from our moorings and make it difficult for us look at the past objectively.

The growth that comes from retrospect is sometimes earned through doing battle with the monsters of our id and the demons of our ego.  What we assume to be true, upon closer inspection, might be something that lies farthest from.  The intentions we might assign or expect from someone might be so incorrect that it could be said that it might have been better to have had no expectations at all.

That being said, the main point not even necessarily be about you.  It might be around reasonable accountability.  Is it reasonable to hold yourself accountable?  Was it really in your control to begin with?  Was it actually someone else’s influence or lack thereof that made it so?

What was the actual outcome rather than the outcome you expected?  If you can’t rationalize your actions, then maybe that’s the first place to start.

The only thing stopping you…

The deep-seated fallacy of hindrance (or in technology parlance, “blocked by”) in a lot of our narratives, interactions, and goals.

We tend to cling to embedded narratives in terms of fallacious pre- and post-analysis.  We tend to self-recriminate ahead of time or ruminate on an outcome that we either didn’t anticipate or couldn’t predict.

Rather than asking ourselves “how can we ensure we learn from this”, we tend to be less directed and say “I’ll give it my best shot”.

Sometimes methodical inspection of the task, the process, or the activity yields new insights.

Sometimes having an experienced mentor or coach can help you break the mental barrier.

Sometimes it’s just making the decision to start and to accept the outcome regardless.

Sometimes the only thing stopping you is making the choice.

How much does it cost…

  • To buy your consent?
  • To buy your ignorance?
  • To buy your ethics?
  • To buy your blindness?
  • To buy your silence?

On the inverse-side:

  • To buy your generosity?
  • To buy your kindness?
  • To buy your empathy?
  • To buy your curiosity?
  • To buy your alignment?

The cost isn’t always paid in terms of monetary exchange.  It’s more likely you gave something up for free or shifted the cost to someone else.

When you allow someone to “buy” your consent, ignorance, ethics, blindness, or silence for a product, a political maneuver, or social issue, are you really getting what you expected from the exchange?  What about the non-white, non-Christian, non-binary people proverbially adjacent to you?  Or how about that sweat-shop factory on the other side of the planet?  Or that family member that looks up to you and loves you dearly?

Sometimes cost isn’t measured in money.  Sometimes there’s an indirect social or political cost.

Are you weighing the costs?

Like everyone else

Heroes and leaders:

  • Put on their pants just like everyone else.
  • Have to stretch, train, learn, practice, and fail like everyone else.
  • Wear protective gear and take safety precautions like everyone else.
  • Speak and listen to others as they’d want to be spoken and listened to (like everyone else).

There aren’t any secrets. Humility and intelligence are essential.

But what’s missing is you.  You have to work hard.  Just like everyone else.

Honesty

It can be scary.  It can carry a lot of energy and sound like someone’s unloading.  Maybe that’s the point.  All their fears, desires, and dreams laid bare.  Maybe it carries a lot of intensity.  That’s certainly something I’ve gotten from people in the past.  “You’re too intense”, they’d say.

Maybe that’s born out of a desire to not mince words or waste anybody’s time.  To an honest person, nothing is worse than superficiality or superfluousness.  Ephemeral words and meaningless interactions–that’s a quick way to make an honest person frustrated.

If you’re interacting with an honest person, you’ll know it.  There’s a noticeable lack of pretense, sometimes a very disquieting conveyance of intent.

Get to the point.

Which isn’t to say that an honest person has a lack of whimsey or creativity.  For the things that matter to them, they’ll spend hours talking about nuances and minutiae.  These things aren’t trivial, they’re essential to the point.

Which begs the question: why aren’t you this honest?  Wouldn’t everyone’s lives be better spent being honest and vulnerable?

Because both take courage; something many people claim to have yet few possess.

Do we really…

  • Communicate like we mean it?
  • Love each other the way that we deserve?
  • Engage in the work that matters?
  • Really know what we want?
  • Treat others the way we would want to be treated?
  • Treat ourselves the way we would want to treat others?

If you feel even the slightest pang, and you’re honest with yourself, chances are good that there’s some room for improvement there.