Monday, September 20, 2010

does the shoe fit?

Sedona, AZ, May 2009
The road of life is rocky
And you may stumble too
So while you talk about me
Someone else is judging you

--Bob Marley

How many times have you heard the old adage "Never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes?" I use this all the time, but I have a big fat fail when it comes to "practice what you preach." What does this saying really mean and is it even possible to live in a world where compassion and understanding always come before judgment? I know I judge, sometimes shamefully.  We all do it.  The media perpetuates it until we all choke on it.  I think being non-judgmental must be the single most difficult act of human benevolence. Judging comes as naturally as breathing and it's an almost impossible habit to break.  But maybe we can just give it a shot.

Take a moment to stop and think about how many judgments you make a day. Pick any day.  I'll take today.  This morning I started off judging a recently elected tea party member who was showcased on the morning news.  Because I don't agree with her politics, I was spouting an unsympathetic "told you so" about all of the bad press that came out about her over the weekend.  I even tweeted about it - "saw that one coming down Broadway."  At work I judged someone for a management choice he made. I would never scream at my staff that way.  I judged a photo of someone on facebook for the clothes she was wearing at a work function.  That's a little on the skanky scale, don't ya think? 

If you think you don't judge, you probably need to take a long, hard look in the mirror. We constantly make judgments based on appearances, words, actions, beliefs, and choices. We even judge a person for judging someone else. Those of us being judged will judge our offenders. "They are so judgmental."  Plllleaaase. We are all the pot in that pot and kettle situation.  

I think about how I judge and why I judge all the time.  This past weekend, I was reminded of this as I watched the pain of some severe judgment unfold. In that moment, I realized it was unlikely there were any people in that room free of judgment even though we told ourselves we were, but what we did have was compassion and caring and a true sense of support.

We judge because of what we are taught and what we have learned from experiences. We judge because of lack of knowledge and because we want to believe that our choices and belief systems are superior to those of others.  Judgment is based on ego, but we really do have the capacity to put that aside and look outside of ourselves. If you need any help with this, just watch a child. They are the best little non-judgers (I know, not a word). I am trying really hard to go back to my four-year-old roots and be better at it every day because I never know when it's going to be judgment day for me. 


Thursday, September 9, 2010

the boy who doesn't drink the koolaid

forging his own trail. colorado 2010
Where's the church, who took the steeple
Religion is in the hands of some crazy-ass people
Television preachers with bad hair and dimples
The god's honest truth is it's not that simple
It's the Buddhist in you, it's the pagan in me
It's the Muslim in him, she's catholic ain't she?
It's the born again look, it's the Wasp and the Jew
Tell me what's goin' on, I ain't gotta clue.
  ---from a Jimmy Buffett song called Fruitcakes

I am blessed with a thirteen-going-on-forty-five-year-old who is more insightful than most adults I have met.  This kid has been trying to figure it all out since before he was born.  The problem with using your brain when you are thirteen is that it sometimes stirs up some controversy.  Go figure.  I always thought it was the other way around. 

What do we do when our kids question the path that is laid out for them? If the question is "do I have to get up in the morning and go to school," then that's easy.  It's the law, son.  But what if the question is about something less black and white, like say....religion?  Yep, I said it: religion.  For many, religion is the touchiest of subjects.  (For me, it's politics, but that's for another day).  So be forewarned that depending on your beliefs, this could piss you off.  Hopefully it will just make you think. 

Eighth grade is graduation year at our catholic school.  It's also the year of confirmation.  Confirmation for Catholics is the third rite of passage, or sacrament, after baptism and communion. It's like steps 1, 2, and 3 on the path to heaven.  It is when you confirm your commitment to the catholic church and to Christ.  This church also requires that the newly confirmed have a sponsor, someone who is also a confirmed catholic and knows the ropes.  It is similar to an AA sponsor, I suppose.  Someone to keep you on the right track, whether it be sobriety or the catholic path to salvation.  {Please forgive this non-catholic for my loose terminology.  I had to look this all up. I don't even know if I'm capitalizing correctly.  Thank god (God?) for spell check.} 

Confirmation is not a requirement for passing eighth grade, but who wouldn't want to do it after converting religions, receiving first communion, and attending five years of catholic school?  Yeah, that would be my thirteen-going-on-forty-five year old.   

Are adolescents able to make an informed decision about what religion to commit themselves to for the rest of their lives?  We pick our college major around eighteen and look how many of us still don't know what we want to be when we grow up. The issue is not his faith in God, or wanting to lead a moral life, or that he doesn't want to put "catholic" in the religion box on his facebook page.  The issue is his personal spiritual path.  His path is not mine, or his dad's, or yours. He seeks answers for what is right for him, not what is right for anyone else.  I love that about him.  Even if you have been a card-carrying member of one church your whole life, your path has surely evolved, and in the end, you made the choice to stay.

So does he get to choose his path? 

Hell yes!  (no, I don't believe in hell)


Friday, September 3, 2010

reality bites

Week after week I feel my brain cells being sucked one by one into the vortex of reality TV.  The Kardashians, Kendra, Bethenney Getting Married?, Gene Simmons Family Jewels, blah, blah, blah.  True confession:  I watched an episode of Kate Plus Eight last week.  I am so ashamed. 

As if that list of shows isn't dangerous enough, I must not neglect to mention the big granddaddy of them all.  It is my Miller Lite of Ben and Jerry's of ice Lay's chips and ranch dip of all snack foods...THE REAL HOUSEWIVES.  Folks, this is the satan of all reality shows.  It started in Orange County and it has spawned it's evil seed all over the country to places like New York, Atlanta, New Jersey, Washington DC, and oh help me Lord, Beverly Hills.  This has literally sucked the life out of me for hours each week.  Just ask my husband.  I am so much dumber than I was before this season of The Real Housewives of New Jersey began. 

Remember back in the day when the new season of your favorite show started in the fall and ended in the spring with time off for the holidays?  Television used to take a summer break so we could all go outside and enjoy the warm weather and sunshine.  On a rainy night you may have relented to watching some reruns.  Welcome to television for the twenty-first century.  There is no regular season for any of these reality shows.  The producers ingeniously stagger them throughout the year with just enough overlap so when you think there is light at the end of the tunnel and you might be able to spend an hour reading a good book, the premiere of the DC Housewives airs just before the last episode of the New Jersey Housewives.  Gotcha!  Then there are the reunion shows: parts one, two, and three.  There are the "lost footage" shows.  There are live shows with commentary about the taped shows. You can even rent them on demand. Gotcha good! 

Why are these shows so addicting?  What's the real entertainment value? They walk the line of making you uncomfortable enough to stop watching, but somehow convey enough humanity to keep you hooked. My feelings vacillate between endearment, pity, and embarrassment. Maybe watching makes me feel better about my own life. It's a little like witnessing a train wreck. You want to make sure everyone makes it out alive in the end. 

My current goal in life is to wean myself of this addiction. I think I'm too fragile to rip off the band-aid and turn off the tube for good.  Some progress has been made. I already ditched DC, NJ, and Atlanta.  Kendra and Gene Simmons are no skin off my back.  My weak spots are the new season of the Kardashians and the promise of some new scandalous housewives in Beverly Hills.  If you hear me talking out loud about how Kourtney really needs to dump her loser baby daddy, please schedule an intervention.