Sunday, February 16, 2014

You don't have to take it anymore.

The Couch
Cinnamon Sugar Kettlecorn
Some kind of tea if I can persuade my sweet, wonderful, considerate partner to make me some...  And good old Sleepytime, it is!

This going to be more rushed and more random than my usual stream-of-consciousness blogs.

There's another racially-charged, "self-defense" trial that was just decided by a jury.  Mostly decided, I should say.  I just finished reading some of the details of the verdict and an overview of the incident.  It started with a confrontation.  Old white guy v. young black punks, re: loud music.  It ends with the white guy firing off 10 shots and one black kid dead.

Was it self-defense?  Was there a weapon that the other kids in the car disposed of?  Did one of the kids get out of the vehicle, as the defendant claims?  Did the defendant return to the car with the intent of killing at least one of the kids in it?

The jury decided on the lesser charges of the trial - guilty - and it will cost the defendant at least the next 60 years of his life.  Basically, the long slow death of incarceration.  But the jury could not say whether or not they believed it was outright death by intention - murder.

It struck me, as I was reading this, how the defendant - the man who unarguably shot at and killed a younger man, just 17 - he decided to turn himself in.  It reminded my of how George Zimmerman never denied killing Trayvon Martin, and how he "fully cooperated" with the police investigation.  Clearly, both of these men felt they had every right to do what they did, and no fear of any repercussions.  Somehow they each felt entitled to engage in a hostile confrontation with a stranger and then kill that stranger when the conflict was not otherwise resolved.

Aside from the other awful, troubling aspects of this trial, it illuminates how terrible we are as a society at conflict resolution.

Gurus and fad psychologists have have been trying to tell us how to deal with our emotions for millennia.  Despite that, we are not very far along.  We are, collectively, vastly immature.  Part of the problem is finding the right words that make it click for each individual.  For me, advice like, "Don't let it get to you," has never stopped it from getting to me.  Then this story - yet another story or confrontation turned to tragedy - brought something to my mind that made it all click.

Imagine a man or woman arguing with someone they may have never met before.  Their adversary is shouting, throwing all kinds of unfair insults, showing the worst kind of disrespect.  Imagine that first man or woman rising to their feet with the declaration, "I don't have to take this anymore!"  The trick is... no, you don't have to take it anymore.

Just because someone is behaving disrespectfully to you, that in no way changes whether or not you deserve respect.  Nothing they are doing or saying is you, and none of it can change who you are.  It's their actions, their behavior, on display.  It has nothing to do with you.  Imagine all that vitriol as a giant wave of bull pucky raging your way - but it can't touch you.  It breaks around you on a sphere of your own self-awareness, certain that no one can really disrespect you - only you can.

Think Moses.  Think X-Men.  Whatever helps you visualize it.

Just don't take it in.  It's not yours.  So some kids are playing their music too loud and they are doing what you have asked them to.  So what?  You can't be good, considerate people for them.  That's on them.  It doesn't make you weak to be mistreated.  The abuser is the weak one for living as a "lower" human being.  For you to be the higher human (stop giggling, Beavis), you have to leave their lowness outside of you.

Respect is about how you behave, not how you are treated.  To think that your worth, in any way, is dependent on other people's behavior, takes all your power away and gives it to others.  You have no control over anyone else.  Waiting for other people to treat you nicely, to like you, will only make you vulnerable and insecure.  Stressed-out.  Trigger-happy.

So you do what you can to set things right - speak your peace, defend yourself, body, mind, and spirit.  Call on others to come to your aid, if you need to.  Just make a noise complaint and be done with it.  Or, turn the music down and shrug off that cranky old person.

There are so many other ways to say it... just let it go.

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