Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Guest Columnist

Pretty Lady has had a frantically busy day, and although she has many inchoate notions about scintillating things like Dominance and Submission floating round in her brain, she has decided to take the evening off, and lounge around downtown with her new mystery novel instead. Most fortunately, when she checked her comments, she discovered to her delight that Terrymum had written her day's column for her. Since Terrymum posted it halfway down the page, she is bringing it up here in case anybody missed it.


Many people who know me consider me to be a bit overly optimistic, even a Polly Anna at times. I have been accused of being naive and wearing "rose colored glasses." But no one has ever really thought I was stupid. So, it is my hope that the reader may accept that while I might have an unusually hopeful personality, they might give credence to my suggestions simply because the tests show my IQ number is above my hat size.

I read a lot of things in a day's time. News articles, blogs, letters, e-mail, etc. And I hear a lot of things. My job puts me in the center of politics on a daily basis. And has for close to 20 years. So I have a bird's eye view of what is going on in certain circles and at a fairly high level.

Over time, I have seen a trend that makes even my rose colored outlook dim. In fact, I have to fight being depressed about it some days. It is not the shift of power from one party to another. It is not the increase in technology that helps us be more efficient while it diminishes personal human contact. It is not even the embracing of immorality that seems to be approaching Roman Empire standards.

Rather, it is what I perceive as an increased lack of respect we have for one another. I think there is a growing tendency to treat other human beings, especially those whom we have never met in person, as objects (usually of scorn and often of hate), unworthy of dignity or common civil treatment.

I see this in all areas of my life. It is exhibited by the sarcasm used to diminish and dismiss not only the ideas of anyone with whom we disagree, but also their very right to breath air. The hate and venom regularly spewed is applauded and celebrated. People act mean, and they are honored and rewarded. Bullies have become our nation's heroes. Pundits and power brokers say hurtful things about others, and we admire and try to emulate them. We see enemies all around us, and while we object to the horrible treatment of those we pity or identify with, we cannot see how our own behavior contributes to an atmosphere of hate whenever we attack the person or personality of those we fear or with whom we disagree. We hate it when we are treated badly, but we can and do find ways to justify treating others badly.

The idea that all human beings are Children of God (by whatever name you call that deity) with a spark of divinity is laughed at and ridiculed as juvenile or outmoded. It is not hip or cool or wise to show a vulnerable caring side; you are seen as a chump, target, wimp. While people say they think Mother Teresa of Calcutta was a wonderful person, I see far fewer people trying to be more like her, and a lot more trying to be like Howard Dean or Ann Coulter.

Let me be clear. I am not exempting myself from this criticism. I too enjoy biting humor. I am related to several people whose sharp wit is a regular source of personal enjoyment. However, most of these dear friends spend just as much time making fun of themselves as they do pointing a bright light at the foibles of other people. That seems to even out the spite to a point where they seem open to the idea that they are just as flawed and fallible as the people they are teasing or testing. And when I am personally attacked (or my friends or family are) it is really tempting to strike back in kind, even if such a defense will not change anything or protect anyone.

I am afraid that in losing our ability to respect people with whom we do not agree, even while we poke holes in their logic or arguments or behavior, or even defend ourselves from their attacks on us, we are losing our souls.

We as a nation once held some claim to being a moral country. We had high ideals and we tried to set a good example. While we made lots of mistakes, and there have always been (and always will be) individuals who are not moral in anything they do or say, those high ideals could often best be seen in the way we as a nation and as individuals treated each other and those around us. Civility and kindness were celebrated and taught. Good manners were required in order to survive and no one was socially rewarded for being a bully or being mean. We were encouraged to build things up, not tear them down. And that included the lives and egos of other people.

Goodness and kindness are not just words. They are not character traits for the weak or the stupid. It takes strength of character and firm resolve to stand up to the crowds and do what is right. But in the end, the people who attempt that feat will not only be remembered as leaders and important. They will leave a legacy that lasts and grows.

The source of all that is evil revels in hate and hateful behaviors. I hope that the pit bull attack methods and attitude that seem to be growing stronger every day are soon seen for the dangers I believe them to be. Because otherwise I fear that the celebration and increase of hate, evidenced by the meanness now present in all facets of our life, will end in the destruction of not only America, but the whole world.

We do not treat others decently because they have earned it or deserve it. We treat them decently because "as you treat others, so shall you be treated."

Also, dear Thims chimed in with a comment that deserves attention:

I will simply note that this notion that the Holy Spirit is always available resonates deeply with me. The problem is that we are not always available, being distracted by our various toils.

Flaky or not, denial of the holy spirit is another level of damned, according to authorities you may not recognize...

In any case, I salute your attempt to bring compassion to this disourse. And to those that would scoff, it is more than simply obvious that some worthless jihadi would love to sever our heads. Thanks for your trivial input. We're talking about what we should do, not those clueless screwball Jihadi assholes.

How thrilled and deeply honored Pretty Lady feels, to have inspired such words.


Anonymous said...

I sound a little venomous... especially after reading Terrymum's soothing treatise.

jan@theviewfromher said...

"our ability to respect people with whom we do not agree," is actually a succinct, and more importantly, accurate definition of "tolerance." A word that has of late been turned on its head to mean "the requirement to accept and embrace every idea without question." Today we respect every idea as equal, but treat people unequally. True critical thinking requires that we respect people as equal, but recognize all ideas are not equal. It's an upside-down world.

Anonymous said...

I am deeply honored to be a featured guest of Ms. Pretty! I wrote that diabtribe in response to a lot of the negative's I'm facing, on a daily basis; the final straw was her mention of the Holy Spirit. That helped put things back into proper perspective for me.

I would have agreed about the use of the word "Tolerance" until last week, when I had the pleasure of listening to Madeline Albright speak. She noted that the word "Tolerance" implies that the person doing it is merely "putting up with" (which implies a patronizing smugness typical of those who believe they are superior) rather than attempting to understand, reach out, or at the very least respect a point of view or set of values that are different.

Not all ideas are equal. Not all ideas or ideals have "THE TRUTH" as their central theme. Flawed and fallible, humans can only glimpse and grasp bits of the whole truth. However, I believe we all hold a kernel of it in our souls.

I believe that all humans are equal in value and worth. Thus, I will strive to respect and revere the spark of God they each hold. No matter how they deny or subvert that wonderful spark in themselves or me, or how delluded, or irritating, or frankly objectionable I may find some person or group of persons, I am going to fight any internal tendencies to become what I decry. This may not be easy, especially in the face of some of the negative conduct and words flung my way. But I will try.

As Jesus is reported to have said (in summary), it is not that hard to love those who love you; loving your enemies, now that is how we can tell if you are on the side of dark or light. And how do we know who "loves one another"? By how we treat everyone. Whether we agree with them, or like them, or even know them.

You shall know them by their love.

Anonymous said...

P.S. Dear Thim, I too fear the intentions of the jihadists who wish to see me and mine D.E.A.D. as soon as possible by any means possible (and preferably one horrible and painful). I do not condone such attacks nor understand anyone whose approach to life can embrace such a vision. Even St. Augustine found a way to incorporate the concepts of "just war" and "Self-defense" into a life lived in accordance with Christian mores. However, in seeking to defend ones life and self from unjustified attacks, one does not have to become just like those doing the attacks, in order to succeed in a defense. The family of the little Amish girls so brutally murdered serve as a living and holy example of how to respond to the insanity and evil that would harm those whose only offense is being a chosen victim.

Anonymous said...

"The family of the little Amish girls so brutally murdered serve as a living and holy example of how to respond to the insanity and evil that would harm those whose only offense is being a chosen victim."

Fascinating in it's casual dismissal of exactly why anyone was saved at all. I admire the Amish community only because they would perish rather than fight... and Perish they will.

The men who went through that door to try and save those little girls on the other hand would have gladly given up their lives. I'm sure if there had been time the Amish elders would have dissaproved. It's a very odd world I find myself in.

Someday I'll tell the story of the Dutch Jewish woman of my acquaintance who survived WW II. Her thoughts on who and why most ended up in the camps alway came down to some people have an idea and others have a plan. I asked her how anyone could knowingly allow themselves to be deported to the camps and her answer was that "Everyone will walk calmly and those with doubts will find themselves under pressure from everyone around them to submit and not cause trouble. I lived because I disobeyed my partents and all that they held dear. I have no regrets about that."

We are a spoiled, fat, and rich society who's going to meet a bloody end... and rightly so. We're to cow eyed dumb to deserve to live. In the end all PL has to do is live to the end of her life. She has no connection with immortality. I do and fear many of you just as much as the Jihadis. Perhaps I'm not a Christian at all.

Pretty Lady said...

Perhaps I'm not a Christian at all.

Perhaps not, if you believe that this physical world is everything there is. Despite the fact that the 'Christ' in 'Christian' conclusively proved that it isn't.

Bob said...


Christ lived in this world, and died in this world.

There is no evidence of anything more than that, only talk.

Anonymous said...

Heh. I've got the neatest mother-in-law EVAR.

Pretty Lady said...

You sure do, Mitzibel. You've landed in clover.