December 1, 2020: Beauty, Bread, Civil Behavior, and Redemption

Everyone needs beauty as well as bread. John Muir

We treat others badly not because we don’t understand how people should be treated but because we don’t really consider them people. Michael Austin

If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better. Anne Lamott

Redemption is not just granted by the Almighty. Hoo-nōs

I was sitting on the beach away from the cliffs and the signs, both signage and cliff debris. Had part of the cliff separated and fallen on any people below, it would likely have caused great harm or death—and the signs were posted not solely because of the threat, but also because people had died.  At some point, a couple came over, took down the sign, and sat against the cliff—and within 30 feet of a pile of cliff that had already collapsed.  When I noticed and frowned at them, they clearly smirked.

The loss of caring, the loss of respect for others, perhaps born of the independence-delusion (as in independence is the be-all and end-all consideration), is a powerful wedge.  And it is being used against us by us.  It is not necessary.  Being afraid of “soul snatchers” is a wall keeping us imprisoned, not protected.   

We are not so much at risk for being taken over by politics or pandemics, we are more at risk of giving up civil discussions and civil behaviors.  Few disagreements are about what is being discussed and much more about what is not being discussed—after all, divisiveness is rooted in feeling dismissed. If the couple on the beach is called out for their arrogant stupidity, it is not to divide, it is to reduce the likelihood of losing them—a loss of anyone is a loss to all.  That’s inclusion, not exclusion.  However, when we call out someone for such arrogance, we are required to provide a way out, a way to “save face.”  That is not what we’re doing, instead choosing to regulate some to the smart file and others to the stupid file (aka, such folks are not really people), like those files are some static category.  That filing along with the notion that anyone let off the hook remains a threat, seems to have a lot more traction than granting individual and civil redemption. 

A truth at times is not always (if at all) the same as a truth of times. 

There will be loss, betrayal, and hurt in our lives—a truth at times.  But we’re talking about what will be our compass heading despite those hardships, not because of them—a truth of times. What if we choose beauty, bread, civil behaviors, and redemption?  

As for the couple on the beach, we can call them out (I did not—though I give them that look), but we cannot turn them out (I did not do that either).  It’s a tricky business calling out behaviors and it’s a tricky business avoiding dehumanization.  But behaving better is a civil benefit for all, including preserving independence.  

Time for the stoopitity and whining to cease?  We’ve already lost a lot of ground.  Let’s do a premortem and predict what will happen if we don’t change course instead of waiting for a postmortem to see what did happen.  What, really, do we have to lose?

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