Monthly Archives: December 2016

Musings from the Middleground

Grey.

The color of the sky on a rainy day. The color of aged hair. The color of Gandalf before his return.

Grey.

The color of humanity.

Nothing is black and white. Not in this complex world.

I recently saw Star Wars: Rogue One, and as odd as it sounds it touched on thoughts that had been weighing on my mind. Why do we categorize people and things into boxes they don’t quite fit in? Good or bad. Hero or villain. It’s not that simple.

People aren’t perfect. People are flawed. People are complex. And especially, everyone is coming from a different point of reference.

In Rogue One the “good guys” weren’t completely innocent. Some of the “bad guys” had no choice. Unlike so many films and media portrayals, it demonstrated a slightly more accurate reality of war than the polarizing evil vs. virtuous narrative. It acknowledged that many are just doing the best they can with what they are given. A reality of modern warfare.

Much of the media continues to polarize conflicts. A conflict of reference, one I can’t do justice to, is the current situation in Aleppo. Yes the Assad regime is reposnible for inexcusable and atrocious crimes against humanity, however some of the rebel groups backed by the US aren’t innocent themselves. For the media to try and swing the narrative to condemning the Assad regime as the “bad” and the Rebels as the “good” is an injustice to the citizens trying to navigate and survive in the divided and complexly dangerous reality honest civilians live in. It’s a simplification of their plight. The plight where 100,000 people’s lives are at risk while the international community doesn’t guarentee their safe exit, the plight of people who must make heartbreaking decisions many can never grasp.

We blindly condemn any member of a terrorist organization, without knowing why they participate. Yes, hate is never the answer. Yes, blind violence is inexcusable. Nor do most resort to these. But could you say, that if you saw your relatives killed in front of you by  US military weapons that you wouldn’t be triggered? Would you be tempted to take up arms?

We put people like Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King Jr. on pedestals for the good they did, meanwhile they commited questionable deeds in their personal life. The good they did stands alone, strong and outright amazing. Changing the world for the better. I am in no way saying their invirtous deeds overshadow the good, I am simply reminding that as humans, they weren’t completely innocent. They caused pain as well.

Who is a hero and who is a villain is dependent on your point of view. Just because someone opposes your view doesn’t mean they are “bad”. Sure if your view is that other people are “less than”, and won’t be changed due to new experiences and information, than that is inexcusable. Many who oppose you, however, are just doing what they believe is best with what they have.

Polarization is dangerous. Idealization is dangerous. It leads to seeing others as the “enemy” when in fact they are not too different from yourself. Stop seeing people black and white and see them as they truely are- flawed individuals trying to survive in this world, just like you.

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Say What YOU Need To Say

Already back at it?! Saw whaaatttt?!?! Well I thought I’d give this short post a a little twist using song lyrics instead of book quotes.

There’s that study a while back about what people regret most. What most participants said is that they regret what they didn’t do, not what they did. Isn’t vocalization an action? Could this philosophy apply to what we say in our lives as well?

“And all those things I didn’t didn’t say, wrecking balls inside my brain “

~Fight Song, Rachel Platten

We’ve all been there. Left our words inside our head instead of saying them out loud or even typing them. Or perhaps we didn’t phrase our statement so that it reflected what we were trying to say. I consider myself a fairly unfiltered individual and even I can relate. Just because I usually say what I’m thinking doesn’t mean that what I’m thinking is organized in a manner efficiently reflective of what I’m feeling, or trying to prove. Additionally everyone, including myself, has topics that make the brain stutter.

So what does this all mean? We can’t go back and tell everyone that was ever in our lives what we meant. We can’t change our goodbyes. We can’t stand up to insults more poetically retroactively. However,we also can’t continue to lose a second of sleep over wondering. What helps me is remembering that no matter how eloquently you said what you meant, it doesn’t mean it would have been taken that way.

“These words are my diary screaming out loud, and I know that you’ll use them however you want to”

~Breathe (2 AM), Anna Nalick

Communication is a complicated process of encoding and decoding messages that takes at least two parties. How the message is received, though influenced by how you deliver it, is essentially on the other person. So you can’t wish you said something solely for a specific reaction out of someone, because that reaction is not in your control.

 You have to speak for you, when you need or want to get something off your mind, not because you want a response. You can’t change the past but you can learn for the future. So, by all means, this blog is making me more motivated to tell the people in my life that I love them, stand up for myself, and make more jokes even if they’re lame- but I realize I have to do it for me. I’m going to make that lame pun if it makes me happy, but I won’t be counting on laughs.

“Decide what to be, and go be it.”

~Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise, The Avett Brothers

Everything Won’t Be Alright, And That’s OK

I won’t lie. I’ve always been a bad liar. Everything is not going to be alright. Everything will not get better.

But some things will.

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

Robert Frost

In the depths of despair it is hard to believe such reassurances as “it’ll all be ok”. Coming from someone who’s been there, an element of this doubt is the overwhelming and crushing negativity that makes climbing out of the hole you are in seem too great a feat. Another element, however, is the strong logic that  such a generalization can’t be true.

Many illnesses, including my own, can’t be cured. Loved ones won’t come back from the dead. Things won’t always go back to the way they were. There are some wounds that time can only scar over, but never truly heal.

By no means does this mean to lose hope. By no means does this mean to give up. By no means does this mean life isn’t a beautiful thing. It just means we need to stop expecting it to be perfect, flawless, and smooth. It will never be this, at any given point.

“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”

Stephen Chbosky, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

Life isn’t a paved road that has unmaintained and rocky sections. Life is field. A meadow where any square inch is full of good things and bad. For example, you just stepped somewhere that was cushioned by grass, but home to a fire ant  that is capable of biting you. Life is complex, oversimplifying it is just setting yourself up to be disappointed.

If you expect a time to be “the best years of your life”, if you expect every aspect of your life to be going smoothly, if you expect pain to be wiped from your slate completely- you will be disappointed. Not everyone or everything’s agenda is the same as yours. There are bound to be clashes. There bound to be sorrows. And if you aren’t expecting them, they hit that much harder.

That’s why it’s important to know that not everything will be alright, and know that’s ok. Because, these sorrows don’t have to negate the good. As was said in a movie I watched this summer, you have to be happy with being sad. And just as inevitably as bad is bound to happen, so is something that makes you smile. Those moments of happiness, those moments of euphoria, those moments of human connection; they make the bad times worth it.

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

It won’t all be ok. Accept it. There might be many moments in the future where things are not ok. But inbetween, I promise you, something will be ok. Something will make you grateful. Something will make you happy to be alive. Cherish it, whether it’s big or small. It’s what makes everything worthwhile.

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