The most important lesson this week taught me
Think of the first woman ever to leave an abusive marriage. The first woman to insist that she must go out and work to get a job. The first woman that fought for the credits and the right to be chief executive or president or just chief.
Think of the first Africans to fight to be ordained in the church. Or to say Blacks needed the right to vote. The first woman to say the rule against women wearing trousers or speaking in church didn’t make sense. The first women to demand participation in ‘male sports’. The first person to say to be gay is not to be less human. The first person to say the children of ‘slaves’ also deserved to be educated. Or that being of ‘royal blood’ didn’t mean you were better than anyone else. Or that employees needed to be in labour unions to fight for their rights.
Or that a man could be guilty of raping a woman he ‘paid’ a dowry on. Or the first woman who refused to live with a man who beat her and asked for a divorce, before divorces were legal. Or the one who asked for alimony for the intangible labour she put into her marriage. Think of the first set of people who insisted that marriage should also be about love, not just duty. Or that the woman is not property of the man. Or that the bible should belong to everybody, not just priests. Or for freedom of religion. Or to fight the concept of heresy, and entrench freedom of speech and ideas.
These pioneers must have been lonely, abused, tormented, racked with fear and self-doubt, ostracized. Then mocked for being sad and depressed, presented as proof that there is only one way to be, and to search for a better way is a mistake.
Because of them, we are here today. The rights we enjoy – as employees, as Black people, as women, as lesbians, as Christians, as single parents, as human beings – came because someone took the risk, even when there was no model, no precedent, no evidence, no trend lines, no tradition or convention to rely on.
They stood on their own. And because of them, we can stand more fully in our humanity.
We should be grateful. We are not grateful enough for these small blessings. They made us possible today. And more than that? They made it possible for us to also try and be pioneers – for new rights, new possibilities, new freedoms. For those who are coming after us.
What I am rumbling with
Some things are straight lines. E.g. less calories leads to lost weight.
Somethings are curved and bent and circled. E.g. if you marry that woman, will you live happily ever faster?
And some things are inevitably messy, difficult to predict, for instance, what happens when you put your foot down against a troublesome client, a corrosive member of your team, a destructive child? Game theory. The field of possibilities are limitless. You can’t predict the outcome. You can’t control it. After you have done what you believe is right, you have to wait and see.
Many of us want all our problems and issues to be number one, and because we are afraid of losing control or uncomfortable with uncertainty, we pretend that our problems are not messy and complex, and we don’t hold all the cards.
But let the truth set you free. A lot of things are out of your control. A lot of things can’t be predicted with any certainty. At best all you can play with are probabilities.
That’s uncomfortable. But there is nothing wrong with discomfort. That’s life.
The problems only arise when we deceive ourselves, and then allow reality to shock us with the truth at the end of the day.
For The Culture
There is a lot of anger, rage, hate – especially on the internet. Much of it is understandable – it’s said to be in the service of more equality, more fairness. But something occurs to me the more I pay attention. The true revolutionaries who moved the world into more and more freedom were actually full of love and compassion. The recent examples from MLK to Mohandas Ghandi show us that love helps us see clearly – see beyond bitterness and retribution; to see strategically the ways that we can heal and restitute, forgive and convert, learn together, and do better together. Those who truly change the world in ways we call good did it from a place of empathy and love and community and wisdom. Without love, all we do is replace one oppressive power structure with another. There is, it appears, very little good to be found in negative emotion.
A mistake I made this week
I can’t think of any. To be authentic, in this situation, is not to confess a mistake for the sake of performance. But if I missing any, Lord, please show them to me. Because there is nothing worse than not being able to see clearly.
What I am watching/reading/listening to
I just finished reading The Tao of Warren Buffett, a small book that complies much of his wisest sayings. It is written by his former daughter in law, Mary. I think Buffett is one of the wisest people alive today. If you want to access his practical wisdom without investing a lot of time, this is a book you won’t mind.
A challenge I am facing
I want a colleague to know I love him. I usually get through when it’s someone I care about this deeply. Not this time. It really frustrates me that I haven’t figured out a way to make this one work the way I want it to. Actually, I just decided at this moment that the Obstacle is The Way. I’ll (finally) surrender to what is.
“There have been rough spots and detours and ups and downs. But at the end of the day, I’ve loved and been loved and all the rest is background music.” – Hillary Clinton
From my gratitude journal
I am grateful for my best friend who just came into the country and with whom I spent four hours soothing my spirit.
I am grateful for the love of my partner, who is devoted to me in a way that I could only have prayed for.
I am grateful for the ability to give to those around me – because giving brings me joy.
From my daily affirmations
“I love life and life loves me.”
Food for thought
Authenticity is not trying to ‘be yourself’. It’s accepting yourself for what you are.
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