This is a piece written by Doe, a long-time reader and friend. She posted it on facebook and I asked if I could snag it for the blog. So here we have a guest blogger post today.
Consider for a moment that your aggressive “Be Positive” stance is not as loving and wholesome as you may imagine. And in fact, it’s steeped in denial and not wanting to be bothered by anyone’s suffering. You don’t want to look at it, and you don’t want to hear it, so instead you chirp in some suffering person’s face “Stay Positive”. It’s basically another way of saying “I don’t want to hear about it”.
Has anyone ever done this to you and your gut reaction is a nice healthy “fuck you”?
We try and act like “staying positive” is the good thing, and being in pain is the bad thing. I don’t buy it. And it’s one of my biggest pet peeves.
If you can’t bother to feel compassion for yourself when you’re suffering, how in the world can you ever feel compassion for someone else who is?
We pay a lot of lip service to caring about people in this culture. Yet, we’ve trained ourselves to walk past homeless people and not look them in the eye, not ask what we can do to help. We think of health insurance as a “privilege” and not a right, and let people go into debt and on the street because they committed the crime of getting sick and not having money. We pack away our old and dying in old age homes to die alone, along with the mentally ill…we don’t want to think about those people, and we certainly don’t want to see them. Lest they remind us that we too are mortal and fragile. We too are going to die, or lose our minds, or the people who love us. We too may have a change in luck someday and be on the street ourselves.
And also, don’t forget–don’t commit the crime of actually being _angry_ about this stuff…that would be wrong too. Angry people are bad people, right? Angry people don’t deserve love, along with the sad, depressed and disturbed. We are supposed to be bright and shiny and happy and beautiful and white-teethed like those robots we see on the tv.
Yes, life is good. Yes, life is bad. Why can’t it be both? What’s so wrong with a little saddness and anger? Isn’t there room for all the emotions?
Full Disclosure: I am as bad about this as anyone, which is perhaps why I feel so strongly about it. I shame myself all the time. And when I’m feeling good, I sometimes don’t want to hear from the people who are feeling bad. I just wish they would shut up. I’m as guilty as the next person.
But I do feel that this is one of the most important things to work on. Kindness, to ourselves, and to others. Kindness, to me, doesn’t mean blathering useless platitudes about “staying positive” to someone else, or to yourself, when you’re suffering. Kindness, to me, is being willing to really _be_ with someone in pain, to listen, to ask questions, to accept them just as they are in that moment and not act like they have to be any different than they are. To me, that’s real caring. And it’s one of the hardest things in the world to do sometimes.