Category Archives: Stuff

I Challenge You to be Respectful in the Face of Conflict


Did you know that it’s possible to be friends and/or maintain positive connections with someone even when you fundamentally disagree with each other about how to do life? If you’re friends or colleagues who keep in touch outside of the work place/space, then there must be something you like or admire about each other. Perhaps you like their ability to tell a story if they’re an author or perhaps you like their sense of humor or you admire their experiences or their ability to see the good in everything.

These are all reasons why I have rarely ever unfriended or unfollowed anyone on social media, and why I’m careful about who I do friend or follow. About half of my social media contacts are colleagues in the literary and/or academic fields, and in the ideals most important to me – Faith, lifestyle, fundamental freedoms, and yes, even politics – we rarely see eye-to-eye.

But that isn’t reason enough to turn my back on them. I love the diversity – intellectual, physical, spiritual, emotional – of my friends, family and colleagues. I don’t seek to agree on every topic with all of my connections. That would be disastrous to my growth as a person of intelligence and reason. People who seek to befriend and network only with those who agree with them are severely shortsighted and, dare I say, foolish. I’ve been persecuted and denied for my beliefs and opinions, and refuse to do that to others, as long as we’re able to preserve a mutually respectful connection. I maintain constant vigil on my conversations to ensure that I remain respectful, even in the face of disagreement.

I did recently unfriend someone on Facebook and unfollow another person on Twitter. The former Facebook friend is someone I know in real life, someone who’s company and conversation I’ve enjoyed on multiple occasions. What I couldn’t stomach and refused to make excuses for any longer was their constant disrespect and vitriol (talk about hate speech) toward my conservative friends. All of whom I’ve known longer than this individual. It got to the point that some people were questioning whether they should unfriend ME because of this person. Which quickly raised my anxiety level. I made the decision to unfriend this person for my sanity and to save my other connections; one person wasn’t worth further endangering my established network.

I don’t have a problem with debate and disagreement, especially when I’ve posted something encouraging it on my page, but I DO have a problem when you can’t keep a civil tongue in your head, and post a hateful, mean-spirited word vomit on my page. Especially when said words are uttered (or written) by someone who is supposed to be mature. An adult. At least according to their chronological age. If nothing else, dealing with people should teach you that you draw more bees with honey (respect will get you further than truculence).

To me, descent into name calling and hurling insults is something that we learn to rein in somewhere about the time we graduate from high school and realize that the rest of the world doesn’t operate that way. Or it shouldn’t, anyway…as our minds and bodies mature, so should our conversation and ability to disagree or debate with courtesy and civility.

The person I unfollowed on Twitter is an author I’ve followed for years. Someone who’s books I’ve read for years. I will probably continue to read their books. But their constant foul-mouthed and hateful comments against the current presidential administration – and that’s ALL they have been tweeting about lately – were triggering. This person has the absolute right to think, feel and say whatever they want, just as I have the absolute right to unfollow them so their vitriol won’t continue to blow up my Twitter feed and make the blood vessels in my eyes burst.

Here’s what I believe – what I’ve always believed (well, at least since I hit mid-twenties and actually began to THINK and not just ACT or REACT) – and have found to be true in 8 out of 10 cases (because there are always those who cannot sustain a relationship when they disagree on fundamentals). Treat others the way you want to be treated. AKA: The Golden Rule. And it IS golden. That’s it. Well, with a healthy dose of humor thrown in for good measure. That’s the secret to gaining and maintaining friendships and connections across dissenting views on lifestyle, religion and politics.

No matter how my connections respond – whether they love me or hate me, or something in between – I have to stay sane, be true to myself, be able to look at my reflection in the mirror every morning and every night. I have to be able to sleep at night and wake in the morning. I have to be able to meet my Maker with a clear conscience. Treating others the way I wish to be treated, with a side of humor, even – maybe especially – when we disagree, ensures that I can do all of those things.

Everyone has something to give. Everyone is unique. Everyone has something about them that makes them special. Everyone has a story to tell. I encourage you – I CHALLENGE YOU – to focus on those things, the qualities you first admired most about them, and let the rest go.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Anxiety, Friendship, How To, Humor, Life, Mental Health, Musings, Real Life, Relationships, Stuff, writer

Are We Being Good Parents or Merely Enablers?


Photo Source: Unsplash.com/Liane Metzler

Photo Source: Unsplash.com/Liane Metzler

Recently, I’ve seen a few articles related to parenting – mature decisions that some parents have allowed their immature children (for purposes of this post, “child/ren” refers to those humans who are under the age of 15 – I chose 15, because that’s my son’s age) to make – that disturb me as a parent. So I decided to write a post about it, and I have a feeling this is going to be controversial, but SOMEONE has to ask the hard questions and point out the obvious: Are we doing our jobs as parents or are we being enablers? Read on to see what I mean.

  • If your 6-year-old son or daughter wanted to jump off of a bridge into swiftly rushing rapids, would you let them?
  • If your 13-year-old angel baby girl wanted to get pregnant and have a baby of her own, would you let her?
  • If your 9-year-old son who loves sharks wanted to swim within them in the ocean – without a protective cage – would you let him?
  • If you child decided to eat and drink out of the cat’s bowls, pee and defecate in the cat’s bin, sleep on the cat’s bed and walk around on four limbs without any clothes on, meow and hiss instead of using her words – because she believes herself to be a cat – would you allow her to do this?

If you answered no to any of these questions (and I hope you did), then what would be your answer if I asked you this question:

If your 7-year-old daughter decides that she’s a boy, wants all things boy and nothing to do with girl stuff, or if your 9-year-old son decides he’s a girl and wants nothing to do with boy stuff – up to and including an eventual sex change – would you allow them to make those choices?

These are a few of the articles in question: HERE and HERE.

MaturityIf your answer is yes, then I ask you, why? (Let me add a disclaimer right here: I’m not into hate-mongering – neither the parent(s) nor the child. That’s not what this is about. This is about being a parent and deciding when your child is mature enough to make life-altering decisions.) Why would you allow him or her to make such a life-changing, psyche-altering decision if you wouldn’t allow them to do any of the other life-changing, psyche-altering choices I listed above? What child is mature enough, knowledgeable enough, developed enough to understand the consequences for these actions? If they are mature enough to make these decisions – and live with the resulting consequences (because, make no mistake, there WILL be consequences) – then WHY do they need parents at all?

My son would like to skip school and do nothing but play video games or Minecraft on a daily. But because I value education (and because the law requires it) I make him go to school. Yes, I allow him to game some part of most days (after school & homework & any chores I choose to make him do that day), because I believe it’s beneficial for him to learn technology and strategy and have fun. But I don’t allow him to make this decision on his own. He’s not mature enough to make the right decision. How do I know what’s the RIGHT vs the WRONG decision? I don’t. Not for sure. I have to fall back on my own maturity and knowledge – and prayer…lots and lots of prayer – and experience and insight into the world around us to make the decisions that will help my son become a well-rounded, successful, mature man. And that’s often a daunting task.

Photo Source: Unsplash.com/Sarah Graybeal

Photo Source: Unsplash.com/Sarah Graybeal

I understand that parenting isn’t an exact science. My son is 15, and I’m STILL learning what decisions to allow him to make on his own and which decisions he needs made for him…for his own good. Yes, children are people, they are individuals, they are born with free will just like the rest of us. But human children ARE NOT born with the species memory and imprint with which animal young are born.

I think this comes down to ethics and morals. One ethics and moralities question posed to a class I attended years ago was this: There’s a hungry rat and a newborn human baby in an

alley. Which – if either – would you choose to defend? That this is an ethics and moralities question says a lot about our society. And it doesn’t say anything good. There should be no question, no hesitation. My answer will ALWAYS be, the baby. Rats can defend and fend for themselves from an early age. Human children on the other hand, are not born with the knowledge and skills needed to defend or fend for themselves. That’s why they’re given parents. We are their primary teachers. We teach them manners, social interactions, ethics, morals, how to set goals and achieve them, how to shower and dress, how to be kind, but wary of strangers….we are the guardians of their innocence, the protectors of their joy and the comfort for their sorrows. Ours is such a large and daunting privilege and responsibility.

There is so much in the world that is harmful for our children. So many people who want to hurt them and lie to them. Please, let’s protect their innocence, their purity, for as long as we possibly can. They’ll lose it soon enough.

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, Life, Musings, Stuff, Writing

My Love Affair with Books: Friends that Never Fail


I’m feeling a bit nostalgic this week, so I thought I would share with you a post I wrote (but never posted) for my old blog back in May 2008. It’s a piece that’s helped to label me “introverted.” I’ve winced quite a bit while rereading this post; it’s clear to me how far I’ve come both in my writing and in my social interactions…and apparently some of my writing has been quite…pompous (a defense mechanism, perhaps), in the past… But I think it’s good to remember from whence we came. So, without any further adieu, and with nothing but minor edits for clarity and grammar made to the original post, here is the almost-8-years-younger Wendy.

* * * * * * * * * *

Photo source: Unsplash.com/Ermin Celikovic

Photo source: Unsplash.com/Ermin Celikovic

 

Once again I am reminded that books are the best friends one can have and perhaps the only tangible thing in which to place one’s trust.

If a book disappoints you, you can throw it away, give it away or sell it, and never have to think about it again, except for the odd moment when you see another book by the same author and wonder if this one will be as disappointing as that other one you had the misfortune to read.

Books can take you places you’ve never been before. They can introduce you to new and exciting people. They can increase your knowledge. They can entertain you for hours or days. If you happen to find several authors whose books form part of a series that you enjoy, then you are indeed most fortunate. You can look forward to the next book in the series, and every once in a while you can re-read the entire series and engage in mindless, effortless entertainment yet again.

Books are my escape, my outlet, my sanity. One of these days I may even write one myself. God knows I have several worlds cluttering up my imagination. A few of them have even started to take shape on paper. They haven’t yet started clamoring for attention, but when they do, I will be ready to tell their tales.

HEMINGWAY-Quotefancy-4056-3840x2160Yes, books are more dependable than people. Books will not scar your soul. They will not betray you to the point that you become more and more cynical with each book. They may move you to tears, but do not usually leave you searching at vulnerable moments for the odd darkly private corner to shed tears of anguish, betrayal and pain.

Books do not tell you, “I don’t want to lose you.” And the silent follow-up, “But neither do I want to talk to you more than once a month, or when I feel the need to let you know that I am still alive and kicking.”

Books do not tell you, “I’m feeling pressured,” and “I’m not saying never, but not right now.” Books do not tell you, “I can’t handle a long-distance relationship.” Books do not hand you the world one day and 3 weeks later, without warning, pull the foundation out from under your feet.

ode to booksBooks offer an unconditional relationship. They do not care if they must come to you. They do not care if you must communicate through Cyberspace. Books do not cringe, think you are needy, desperate or putting undue pressure on them if you need to spend a little more time with them today than you did yesterday.

Books do not tell you that they want a relationship on their terms, but not yours; that they get to set the rules and you get to accept them or risk loss of the relationship. Books will accept you on your terms. Yes, they might “talk back” every once in a while (i.e., do not live up to your expectations or cost more than you are willing to pay – high maintenance), but eventually, they will come around. They are willing to compromise, and won’t make promises they don’t keep.

No one ever says, “Books!” with the same exasperation reserved for a woman who is particularly difficult – i.e. who wants exclusivity in her relationship, who wants a guy to realize that yes, it’s long-distance right now, but it won’t last forever, who wants her guy to tell her that SHE’S WORTH WAITING FOR!!

Yes, books are my best friends. They may not speak to me in the conventional sense, but when my world is falling apart, they help me shore up the walls I allowed to be breached and they, slowly, help restore some semblance of sanity…

Leave a comment

Filed under books, Depression, Life, Mental Health, Musings, Reading, Stuff, Thankful, Writing