I’ve got to tell you, Wednesdays post made me so uncomfortable I’m likely never to do it again. I literally felt sick to my stomach and shaky kneed whenever I thought about it. Responding made me anxious. I came this }{ close to pulling it down several times. Which made me kind of mad at myself. Am I so afraid of “your” disapproval that I can’t stand up for what I believe in? Yikes.

I’d rather be a mush-puppy than stand behind my beliefs. That makes me want to puke in the trash can. So I left it up. It’s still there. It will remain there. Because I need to stand behind what I believe, even if I can’t articulate why I do.

Do you have this problem? An inability to articulate what stands behind many of your beliefs? I feel strongly about many things but “I just know it’s right” doesn’t work as an argument. I know someone who believes everyone who is homeless chooses to be that way. They are lazy, they don’t choose to work. There is no sense of There, but for the grace of God, go I.

I know there are people living in cars, families, but not just families, people who would jump at a place to live. People who work, or who don’t. Maybe poor choices brought them there, but also circumstances beyond their control. I believe they deserve our help. I don’t even care if they are lazy (although I don’t think they are), they are human therefore they deserve dignity. They are worthy of our concern.

But I can’t tell you why. I can’t make an argument for why I don’t think homeless people are lazy, or why they deserve our help if they want it. It’s just something I feel. I’m fairly intelligent. I can do math and understand science. I have a degree in anthropology so I probably did okay writing analytical papers. I can give you a comprehensive profile of the Kuna society up to the mid 1990s, which is when I stopped studying them. I can dig around at an archaeological site, come home, look at the contents of fossilized feces and tell you what they were eating and in what proportion.

But I can’t disect the contents of my own mind. Shift through my feelings and give you the facts behind my beliefs. I should be able to, I know. Plenty of people analyze the facts that lie under their assertions. But the minute I try to vocalize my thoughts on my thoughts my heart starts pounding, as it is now, my palms sweat, my mind shuts down and the old fight or flight instincts kick in.

So I keep things light. I avoid controversial content. I strive to entertain.

And I probably still will. But every so often I think I’ll challenge myself to write something with a little more substance. To write the things that make my heart pound and my palms sweat. Because in the end, if I can’t stand behind who I am, what I think and feel, how will I know who I am?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

KarenB November 11, 2011 at 10:42 am

It’s the civil discourse part that I have trouble with as well as coherent articulation. When I care about some issue, I REALLY care about it and have a lot of trouble acknowledging other points of view and arguing in a sane and logical matter about it. Because I really don’t like confrontations, the physical aftermath is just not worth it usually, I just avoid subjects that are controversial for the most part. So, yeah, maybe I am cowardly, but I truly applaud your intentions of putting yourself out there. I did read your post yesterday and agreed with it, but was having one of those pull the covers over your head days and so just went and took pretty pictures instead.

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Julie November 11, 2011 at 4:38 am

I don’t get the physical symptoms you do, but I have been known to fall apart in an argument, because so much of my “facts” are just what you said, “feelings” instead. I stand strong, but only because I’m stubborn, not because I have much of an intellectual foundation.

Be you, and do it proudly!

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Delia November 11, 2011 at 2:47 am

Aww, Kate. I hope I didn’t make that worse for you; it was not my intent. I get wrapped up in factitis sometimes, but it’s mainly because I want the argument to stand. You had a great point, I wanted you to have a strong foundation. Alas, I can be tactless. If I hurt your feelings or made you feel uncomfortable or stressed in any way, I apologize.

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Kate George November 11, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Oh Delia – you were completely civil! You have nothing to apologize for. It’s my own frailties that cause me distress.

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Skye November 11, 2011 at 2:22 am

Somethings cannot be broken down by dry facts. Some things are true because they are the right thing to do. It’s about morality and value. For the Christians, it should be because Jesus said so. For most people in general, we are supposed to take care of others and assume we are equal in the eyes of God(s) or the Universe.

And I’ve been so close to that homeless place the past few years — someone who has made a good living in the past, who is well-educated with a completely useful and portable skill — that I know how difficult it is. And hard it is when your creditors keep calling, even when you say “I’m unemployed. I’m living off savings. There is no way I can pay this bill now.” And credit card companies won’t help you make things better, won’t lower your interest rates or close the card and stop charging interest; they only do that if you are employed. So useful.

So go ahead Kate. Write what you want. If it’s controversial, then people who know right from wrong will “allow” you to have and state your own beliefs. If they cannot handle that, then perhaps they need a primer on right, wrong, and having different opinions. Kinda like some of the rabid Republicans I met at a former job here in Houston. I don’t believe all Republicans are rabid, in fact I know that for a fact. But boy, some are. And they’ve forgotten that in this country at least, we are supposed to tolerate different beliefs and opinions, and we have forgotten or never learned about civil discourse.

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