In the ‘hood…

5 thoughts on “In the ‘hood…”

  1. Hi Gayle,

    Interesting Post, glad I get them. The only comments I can make are:

    Don’t worry about having civil conversations. As a civilized being, they are. They can be nice, they can be polite, they can be assertive, they can be confrontational, but they are all civil.

    I recommend to all I care about a short essay/bookette by Richard Feynman entitled “What do you care what other people think?” The premise is that there are a precious few people that you care about sufficiently to meter your words and thoughts (i.e. your loved ones) , and any and everyone else can either handle the sometimes unvarnished truth or … What do you care ?

    It doesn’t make us uncivilized to have rational and sometimes assertively combative discourse. It makes us uncivilized to abandon the graces of civilization. Yes, too many people do that, but you can still make your say. I never feel bad telling the Jehova’s Wintesses to go away. I usually tell them that they are rude, intrusive and that their activities at my home are offensive. They often feel attacked, but I have not been rude, only truthful. What do I care what other people think?

    Then again , …

    Love ,

    Mike

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    1. I love your imagined-family approach, Gayle. And I’m struck by Peter’s comments on the meaning of “civil” and “caring what people think.”

      I think how we talk to people and express our opinions has been at the heart of the presidential campaign just as much as opinions expressed and positions held. And I’ve been lamenting the rancour between the Dems, although some wouldn’t call it rancour at all. Bernie is perceived as authentic to some, uncompromising to others. HRC the other way around. Bernie supporters don’t feel like they’re making personal attacks. They feel like they’re uncovering the truth.

      Peter’s remark called to mind a currently difficult person in my life who recently accused me of being “nice” (in the sense of smiling nicely the way your mother told you to). In the same tirade he called me a “phony.” He said he was telling me these things because he loved me and worried about my happiness. This may have been in response to (i.e. it came some weeks after) a conversation we had about spiritual practice in daily life and the Eight-fold Path. I was surprised that as a life-long practioner (a Vedantist) and teacher of world religions, he had no understanding of what was meant by “Right Speech” and no sense of the harm that unwise speech can inflict on the world. The whole experience did make me wonder about niceness and authenticity, principles and open-mindedness.

      And BTW, I really really do not agree with Unz and the Green Party person about English-only. I won’t bother to tell you all my reasons. . .but they’re good ones! And you probably know them. And they’re right!! 😉

      Remind me to tell you about a first-person story I heard recently told by a woman whose mother was one of the Black children who went into an all-white school in the south during the movement to integrate. That one really turned my mind around. The stats that support English-only education. . .not so much.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Anita, Was that the story about the little Black girl who hated being chosen (and not being given a choice by her parents) to be one of the first kids to integrate a southern school. I heard that story on NPR a week or so ago. It was really interesting. I hadn’t thought that much about besides being terrified, it might feel like being sacrificed to be obligated to go through that. I don’t know if that’s the story you wanted to tell me, but it just came up for me. Is there another?
        I totally believe you about Unz and the Green Party person (and Me). For a minute his argument was convincing, and I get that part too. But after I heard him dissumulate about climate change, I realized he wasn’t to be trusted about other matters either. So I’m perfectly open to hearing both sides of this one, and I’m pretty confident that bilingual education is best for ALL children.
        As for your long time spiritual practitioner and teacher friend, all I can say, from my own experience, is that even the longest practicing teachers don’t always see clearly what is happening and don’t always use right speech (recall my own severe wounding in just such a situation). Having spiritual credentials doesn’t always mean that much in terms of inter-personal behaviors.
        xo,
        g

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    2. Hi Michael, So glad you found the post interesting. I always enjoy hearing your perspective. I’ll have to take a look at the book you recommended. Actually I was extremely well-trained by my parents to “care” what others think. It’s been a long road not to care so much. And while at the same time I don’t want to care in that way (eg worried about validation, or some such) I do care a lot in the way that I want to listen better, not feel so reactive (and hijacked by my amygdala) and have more interesting conversations with people. I agree totally with Marshall Rosenberg (who wrote a book called Non-Violent Communication) that most of what passes for normal conversation is actually fairly violent to one degree or another. It just doesn’t seem that way because people are used to it. There are old patterns of power at play that have to do with skin color, gender, class and other power imbalances (children vs adults, employers vs employees, etc etc) that create situations where some people are actually risking a lot to speak their truth and attempt to be heard. For instance these days women in sports broadcasting. But there are many many examples. I think in general people who were raised in a house where children’s thoughts and feelings were welcomed — as opposed to probably most of us who were raised in houses where children were “to be seen and not heard” and Most definitely not allowed any disagreement with their parents — the children who were seen and heard with respect might have more confidence and ability to engage in difficult conversations. I’m no longer that worried about speaking my own truth (otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this blog) but I see where the difficulties are for myself and others, and I feel a lot of compassion for how difficult it actually is to connect in deep, meaningful ways, not just superficial ways, with other people when it comes to having meaningful conversation.

      Regarding the Jehovah’s Witnesses, one of the guys was really sweet, the other more of an introvert. I actually enjoyed the sweet one’s earnestness and sunny disposition. I told him right from the beginning that I am not a Christian and not interested in becoming one. But he was sweet in his conversation and I didn’t really mind spending 3 minutes chatting with him. Besides I felt a like I was in a Broadway play. When I found out they weren’t Mormons, it set me on a course of thinking about Prince and how many people loved him so much, and what was going on inside his mind besides great music and amazing lyrics. Personally I didn’t feel the guys were rude and intrusive at all. They were just doing their thing in a very polite way.

      I agree rational and even assertive conversations are sometimes good and necessary. It’s just very easy to fall over into hostilities like what is happening between the Bernie and Hillary camps. I am a total Bernie supporter, but I see the “hostility” issue on both sides. The idea is to have discourse, but not to have it be full of innuendo, blaming, and sweeping generalities.

      Much love to you Mike,
      Gayle

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