Criticism & Self-Definition

from March 25, 2013

Today’s musing brought to you by Takaki’s A Different Mirror, Mary’s Market coffee, and a day that landed firmly within the spectrum of laughably crappy.

I’m not a religious woman, most people know. I’m a deist whose morals and beliefs are hopefully intelligent, non-static, and independent. I do my best to observe and investigate before giving an evaluation to diversity and change in people, places, concepts. When I hear others use “Hate the sin, not the sinner” as a blanket excuse without thinking on their own, or offering listeners no further explanation, I become sad that my people have resorted to such. They are helping to reinforce an ignorant stereotype of religious enthusiasts that I have prided in watching others fight so hard to refute.

My oldest brother explained to me that his religion teaches that homosexuality is wrong, for example, but he doesn’t pass judgment on homosexuals. That view started to come into focus. Roomie used an example—separate from my brother and I’s discussion—of a poor decision made between the personal and professional realms, but that didn’t make her think the decision maker was a bad seed. That in particular came across to me as being human. We are imperfect, and it’s not the individual errors that make us bad. As long as we do it with a conscience and learn from the results, there’s nothing about what transpired for which we should hold guilt.

Truly, this whole process is how we learn, and the motives behind each phase are projections of who we are. Call someone compassionate, spiteful, humorous, or bitter, but those won’t stick without evidence to back them. For me, that requires the actions and reasoning outlined above, and instinctual impressions in rare circumstances. Many people kill other for their jobs, but my verdict on their character has to rest on the full situation and background. Groups that adopt an opinion justified solely through popularity solidly set themselves apart from those that base opinions on patterns or research. Another layer on top of that is correctly determining the motive. A teen wins legal rights to abort her baby. Is she using it as a sick form of birth control or has she determined that she’s not ready? This series of apparent mistakes that somehow still produces happiness and meaning is what I call life. There’s no way for us to truly determine motive—only incredibly well-placed guesses—and we have to hope our decisions, even when we seem to falter, put us down the ‘right path.’

Defining ourselves by adjectives to me needs hard evidence in action, as I’ve outlined—so too by nouns. I say I’m a pole vaulter, and that encompasses being described as critical, technical, athletic, strong, and fearless. All of those a pole vaulter must be, but this definition like all others holds yet another meaning other than just implying a set of adjectives. There is the spirit to consider. That thrill of doing something devastatingly obscure, keeping at it, and always wanting to improve. The notion of a wholly individual sport that needs a welcoming community in order to salvage the deepest sense of joy. That strand of craziness manifested in bad jokes, or quirks like striped socks, or naming your pole (my first pole was named Bellatrix for the Amazon Star in Orion’s left shoulder). The spirit of the thing you’ll find in every role, from mother to accountant to guardian to coward, and onward.

The lit teacher at the end of the most recent Spiderman subjects that every story ultimately boils down to “who am I?” Appropriately, so do our lives. We seek this self-definition in whatever form to know we have some sort of [insert size or medium] legacy. Personally there is little in my past that hasn’t happened for a reason. My longest, most tiresome struggles, despite the resulting missed opportunities, bore in me a character of which I feel this craphole of a world could use more. And because of that evidence from the past, whatever feels incomplete or missing at the moment I know is pointing me toward some unrealized lesson. Remembering that—which is excruciatingly difficult at times—helps me carry the day and let go of things that would hang on most consciences for months. All I’m going to do is shrug it off. I know who I am, and how I’m working to show that in my everyday, and no one can be myself better than me.


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