Sometimes I have an idea to write one of these little bloggy things but something tells me to wait. I mainly write as a way to put my thoughts into some kind of an order, it seems like Im one of those people who understand thoughts, even my own, if i put them out as writing or a conversation.
Lately Ive noticed how many of my own and , presumably, others stresses come from my concern with what other folks do. This seems at first glance to be reasonable enough, after all, we live in the world with other folks so naturally their doings affect us so it seems natural to be concerned with what these folks who are not us are doing. Right? Well obviously I wouldnt be writing this if i really believed that, and there is the problem. So many of us spend a whole lot of time and energy worrying about what someone else is doing. And the more I observe it in myself the more I realise how much energy and sanity I waste on it!
I worry about whether complete strangers will vote for Obama or McCain, i wonder if that person who is talking about tattoos wants to get one from me, i worry about whether this or that person is being honest, if the fact that they like shitty misogynist rap means they are violent towards women, whether some meathead in bloomfield has watched one too many sopranos episodes and thinks hes a tough guy and will i have a confrontation with this person, i question whether the guys I work with like me or whether that new tattoo shop realises how truly atrocious their tattoos are in short I spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about what someone else is doing. Im not the only one either. Read any blog or bulletin board, hang out in any shop, coffee house, or bar and a majority of conversations you will hear involve one person giving an opinion about what someone else is doing.
Whats so distressing is the tone we all have doing it, the idea that not only is it a good idea for us to inventory other people the way we do, but the implication that we are smarter than them, that we can and have the right to judge what they do, say or think.
What is sad is that not only do we do everyone else a disservice with this kind of thing, we do great harm to ourselves as well. We dont just observe, we judge. Those whose politics we dont agree with arent just carrying a different opinion, we believe that they are wrong or stupid or even evil. Im sure they think the same thing back at us! We look at people who like their sex or food or language different than us as heretics, not as humans. This is the way most of us have lived for eons and it has almost always led to the worst forms of opression and murder in our human history. Every time, sooner or later the result is that someone gets hurt.
I realise the irony about writing a blog complaining about how other people complain all the time, but in all honesty im trying to understand myself how to break the habit. I want to be able to observe difference, to be aware of the good and bad in my fellow humans without having to load my biasesd and judgements on them. I have no doubt that it would be impossible to live in a world where everyone understood that they were all basically a part of all the rest, but I do think that we can live in a world where we worry a lot more about our own lives and behaviour before worrying about that of our neighbor.
I suppose its simply a whole lot easier to aim the spotlight of criticism at another than at ourselves. But the irony is that out of all the people we can think about, discuss, and criticise it turns out that the only one we can do anything constructive about at all is. . . ourselves.
Its taken me 38 years to assemble these bad habits, I remain convinced that they can be undone. So for the next week Im going to make a conscious effort to focus on cleaning up my own actions and thoughts before inventorying others. Ive already started to do it for some time here and there and the results have been amazing. For one thing, anyone who knew me even 3 years ago would likely have described me as an argumentative prick, as someone who thought they were ‘better’ than others. i was the guy who would have started an argument with a wooden fencepost if I could have. That Jason is now long gone (hopefully forever), I realised almost as soon as I got serious about meditation that all my negativity and need to be right was a poison to myself and others, I like to think ive almost completely erased that egotistical need to argue over nothing but a difference of opinion.
So Ill give it a concentrated effort this week. Ill let you know how it goes.