So, clearly I am in a reflective phase.
Hardly novel for January, really, at least not in my experience. I am doing a great deal of reflection on the past, and consideration of the future. I am trying to make some core decisions about my life and what I want it to be, and part of that is considering my values, and the things and people I have brought into my life.
An old situation has been in my mind recently - from high school. I was then even more judgmental than I am now (I know it seems impossible, but it was and is true), and I got myself pretty much universally disliked for raising a mess about the fact that the president of my National Honor Society chapter was 17, pregnant, and not married. Now, it was less the fact that she was pregnant out of wedlock that bugged me - I mean, lord knows I am not one of those wait-till-you're-married kinda people and never really have been. What really bugged me was that she was representing - at the highest level possible in our little pond - the people who were supposed to be the brightest and best in said little pond. She was supposed to be a shining example of all of us, of everyone in the group...and she wasn't smart enough to use birth control and/or figure out the advanced technology of a fucking condom (handed out free by the health teacher). It bugged me then, it bugs me now. So, yeah, I spoke up. I brought it up with the National Honor Society advisor, with the school principal and the superintendent, and with the woman herself...and let's just say that, while I got a lot of "I see what you're saying and agree with you in principle..." bullshit, nobody wanted to step out and uphold any kind of standard.
Now, I realize that the whole scenario was not my best work. I wasn't very compassionate. This was a girl who'd royally fucked herself. By all accounts, an intelligent girl with a bright future...suddenly hampered by a child to raise and a pregnancy during her senior year of high school. Boy, that had to have sucked big time. Back then, I disliked the chick on a personal level (we had some history, which may have colored the situation but I actually tried as much as I could to keep that out of the action I took), and I didn't allow for the fact that she was going through some shit and I was making it worse. I was just stung by the fact that she was representing me...and I didn't feel her actions warranted that honor. (I know, I know, I was and am pretty darn arrogant...but I think it should be an honor to represent me and people like me. It's a tacit acknowledgement of quality, in my mind. Anytime I've wound up in that sort of position, I've always felt honored and blessed by the opportunity to represent amazing people.)
Doing all of that did not make me popular. Pointing out that having a teenage mother representing the "smart kids" would send a message to younger students and our peer schools did not earn me points with anyone. In fact, this chick's friends regularly threatened to kick my ass (nobody ever had the balls to actually try anything; the one time one of them verbally engaged me, I said something like "you and what army" and stepped up....and she backpedaled faster than a president mired in an unjustifiable war ought to). Frankly, this situation was probably the beginning of the downhill slide of my high school career, when I started to realize that merit and good work are actually not as important as ass-kissing, flirting, and popularity.
But I digress.
I've been thinking about this situation a lot lately, though, wondering how I might handle it differently now. Might I be more compassionate and try to reconcile myself to being represented by someone who did not share my values? Might I withdraw from a group because my beliefs were not reflected in its leadership? Might I express my dissent without seeking action? I'm not sure. It all comes back to the question of ideals. How do I reconcile ideal aspirations with human reality? Given the fact that I am so enamored of humanity, that I love humanity for all the good thigns it tries to do, even when it fails....I seem to have trouble carrying that broad belief down to a personal level.
And maybe the missing ingredient is "trying" - maybe I respect and admire the trying and failing....but have trouble if I don't see the trying? Maybe I want to know that the striving for the ideal is there, even if it's not achieved? Maybe I can respect someone who succumbs to temptation if they mea culpa and get back on the wagon?
I think it comes down to the old ethics v. morals debate. Where is that line? Where do my rights end and someone else's begin? Why is it so critical to me? Why do I get invested in these kinds of things? What's my hang up about ideals, and why do I push so hard to live by my own and surround myself with people who do, too? How can I accept that I don't live up to my own ideals....and get so frustrated when other people don't live up to theirs?
A lot of questions. Very few answers.
Loud-mouthed liberal feminist. Anarchist knitter. Tequila-drinking artsy-smartsy fat chick. Bluesy folk-rock singer-songwriter. Rebel with too many causes. Quirky eclectic pagan poet. Paradoxical intuitive smartass. Sarcastic brainiac insomniac. You know, for starters.