"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can break my heart..." Linda McCartney

Posts Tagged ‘The Souls of Black Folk’

Sticks And Stones

In Brotherly Love, Civility, Feelings, Morals, Music, News, Society on October 7, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Conscience: a personal sense of the moral content of one’s own conduct, intentions, or character

with regard to a feeling of obligation to do right or be good. Conscience, usually informed

by acculturation and instruction, is thus generally understood to give intuitively authoritative judgments regarding the moral quality of single actions.”

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online

Once upon a time, good conscience used to be a character component PARENTS, some sort of faith, and community instilled in their children. Children also learned from the example of community leaders– their teachers, their preachers and their neighbors.
Train up a boy according to the way for him; even when he grows old he will not turn aside from it.”–Probverbs 22:6
It’s disturbing to me how the media is making it appear as though all of a sudden there’s this prolific increase of lack of good judgement and good conscience. The truth is, this is a social phenomena that has been going on for quite a long time.
Without a conscience, there can be no empathy.  Conscience is the little voice behind you saying:  Do you really wanna say, do, wear that? Conscience is: The awareness of a moral or ethical aspect to one’s conduct together with the urge to prefer right over wrong.- The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary
I don’t believe more Internet cyber-etiquette classes are gonna cut it here.
Linda McCartney very famously and poignantly put it this way:
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but *words* can break my heart.”
That, literally, is what’s at the heart of this matter. People not stoping to consider anyone’s humanity– their  feelings– anymore, probably because their own are so dulled down.
“…how can YOU speak good things, when YOU are wicked? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”— Matt 12: 34, 35
Words are powerful.  They are double-edged swords.  They have the capacity to heal and humiliate. Words can kill! They kill the spirit. People who think it’s fun or funny to kill another person’s spirit are, in my opinion, MURDERERS!

The cumulative effect of all of this seemingly innocuous, funny ha-ha mendacity is that it slowly, insidiously, bit by tiny bit, transforms potential friends and talented individuals into frightened, uncertain, helpless victims. Victimization leads to frustration. Frustration leads to anger. Anger devolves into resignation. Resignation leads to self-loathing and creates The 21st Century Zombie. Going through the motions of living on the outside. Dead on the inside.

It’s a slow and wretched existence. First of all, the psychological and emotional energy it takes damping down all that pain, reigning it all in– persevering and enduring, often with no end in sight every day. It. Is. EXHAUSTING!

Job only had to endure his torment three years. So did Jesus Christ.

Because you’re the victim, you have to do all the work. No one must ever know you’re angry, annoyed, disappointed, hurt, scared– fighting the good fight all by yourself in your head and in your heart.

Second, if you fail to understand how victimization works–  Poof! All of a sudden you’re not only a problem, you’re the one with the problem. You’re the difficult person, the malcontent, the complainer, the irritating source of all the friction. You don’t know how to “go with the flow.” You’re INFLEXIBLE! Everybody has bad stuff happen to them. You need to develop a “thick skin.” You have only yourself to blame. You should stand up for yourself!

“How does it feel to be a problem?”– W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk

These young people know: Tyler Clementi, Megan Meier, and Hope Witsell, just a few of the former members of the sad and tragic fratority of the walking wounded– the living dead.  Then there are the countless unnamed victims who dull their pain with alcohol and drugs and sexual promiscuity or acting out rages.  “How does it feel to be a problem?”

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?— Bob Dylan

There are so many more stories like theirs in the naked city and silent suburbs.  Not only are children, teens and young adults bullied in schools and on college campuses all across America, but adults are being bullied in the workplace as well. People with children, and car notes, and student loans, and mortgages, and credit cards to repay are being forced to quit their jobs (another form of suicide) to escape the harrassment.

It’s neither fun nor funny to deliberately or maliciously make another human being feel like a victim, to kill their spirit.  When someone physically assaults you, or steals your property, or you lose a limb as a result of medical incompetence or malpractice, the law’s the remedy for you.  But when someone hurts, or assaults, or maims, or lacerates your feelings, where’s the remedy for you?

“Ouch! That hurt my feelings! Quick! Call the police!?”

Society says you just need to suck it up, act like an adult, shake it off, grow up, be a man, turn the other cheek, give it to God. But when mean people, their lies and their hateful machinations interfere with your ability to sustain or even have quality of life itself– when it interferes with your pursuit of happiness–  it’s a tad harder to just shake off.

And the effort. It takes soo much out of you, requires soo much energy.  It’s soo exhausting. Nowadays not even your home is a safe haven, or shelter from the storms or respite to recharge and gain your bearings and endure another day. There’s a note posted on your door. A message on your answering machine. An email in your inbox. A text on your mobile phone. A video on Youtube.

They’re following you home.

You want a friend you- can rely on
One who will never fade away
And if you’re searching for an answer
Stick around. I say  It’s coming up, it’s coming up
Its coming up like a flower
Its coming up. Yeah– Paul McCartney and Wings

No rest for the weary.

What needs to be talked about more, everywhere, is being of good character and valuing a good conscience. Having a good FICA score is not an indicator of good character! All that demonstrates is that you can pay your bills. And yet, that’s all we publically associate character with– a record of bill paying. No wonder no one really cares or has any regard for how anybody feels any more.

True happiness and joy rests in having a good conscience.  You get a good conscience by having goodwill towards everyone every day and all the time. It’s not how well you treat people, it’s how well you make them feel. A lot of the time, being good to one another requires no money at all.
When we can get back to being a society who cares more about the emotional health and well being of people and less about their credit scores, there may be hope for less of these true and tragic stories of people who are just plain mean to other people.
C’mon People now, Smile on your Brother
Everybody get together, try to love one another right now!
Right now!
Right now!

How Does It Feel?

In Books, Civility, Death, Life, Racism, Unemployment on January 14, 2010 at 12:05 pm

For all the talk about honesty and integrity and authenticity, the most life altering circumstance where these attributes are glaringly absent is during the job search process.  You may be driving on fumes, so hungry your stomach muscles are stuck in a painful concave or twisted up in a knot with fear about the phone and ISP bill that’s past due and you know full well there’s no income coming in this week… but when you show up at that interview you better look like you haven’t got a care in the world. You better act like you don’t need this job.

“People call me rude.  I wish we all were nude…  I wish there was no Black or White, I wish there were no rules…” Prince/Controversy

The hiring process as it stands today makes thieves and liars out 0f all of us. Worse, it transforms otherwise law abiding, tax-paying wives and mothers, husbands and fathers, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, Protestants and Catholics, Christians and Jews into cold-hearted murderers of the spirit before lunch at Subway.  Given the choice between having my spirit killed and being shot 42 times, in this economy, I choose the latter.

The 21st century workplace is the new Roman Coliseum.  All it takes is the downturned thumbs of the masses for you, even you, to be thrown to the lions.  You don’t like somebody you work with?  Conspire to make the office environment so unbearably uncomfortable, the disliked person feels compelled to quit.  You don’t like somebody you work with?Don’t like the way they look, or the way they type or breathe? Subscribe to the belief that “most Christians” believe that religion is a cult?   Start a bad rumor about them.  Have them fired!

Never mind that person may have a child or two to support, or a mortgage, or car note, or college loans to repay, same as you.  Never mind that person you don’t like may want to look toward tomorrow with a modicum of hope and confidence, the same as you.

Never mind that every thread that constitutes the fabric of life is completely unattainable when one does not have a job.  You can’t make friends.  You isolate yourself from family.  You can’t own anything or even make plans.  You can’t provide for your children.  You can never let anyone in to know your shame and deprivation.  You are forced to keep terrible secrets.  You’re afraid all the time. You can never tell the truth.

And that’s probably a good thing because the truth is not what prospective employers want to hear from job-hopping, gaps-in-your-resume-having, slow-bill paying, deadbeats like you.  That’s just the way it is.., Right?

Standing in line marking time
Waiting for the welfare dime
‘Cause they can’t buy a job
The man in the silk suit hurries by
As he catches the poor old ladies’ eyes
Just for fun, he says, “Get a job”

That’s just the way it is

Some things will never change

That’s just the way it is
But don’t you believe them

They say, “Hey little boy you can’t go where the others go

‘Cause you don’t look like they do”

Said,”Hey old man, how can you stand to think that way?
Did you really think about it
Before you made the rules?”
He said, “Son”

That’s just the way it is

Some things will never change
That’s just the way it is
But don’t you believe them”

That’s just the way it is
That’s just the way it is

Well, they passed a law in ‘64

To give those who ain’t got a little more

But it only goes so far
Because the law don’ change another’s mind
When all it sees at the hiring time
Is the line on the color bar

That’s just the way it is
Some things will never change
That’s just the way it is
That’s just the way it is, it is, it is, it is

Performed/Lyrics Bruce Hornsby, 2004

Let’s just say for the sake of argument all that’s true?  What could anyone in this country or anywhere in the world for that matter possibly do that could be so terrible they may not be allowed to earn a living?  Or eat?  Or have a place to lay their head and store their stuff? To be?

W.E.B DuBois wrote in The Souls of Black Folk “…How does it feel to be a problem?” (page 5, paragraph 1)

It’s How It Feels Not To Have a Job.

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