I have wanted to write this blog entry for quite some time. I may already have, in fact. There are times I write about things, and then forget that they were covered. I decided a while ago that that was OK in this context, given that so often the things I write about are likely read by a relatively small audience, and most entries are missed. In addition, if it is on my mind a second, or third time, maybe there is a reason for me to cover it again.
A while back I viewed a video by a young woman dealing with cancer. She was very adamant about how important it was to find cures for childhood cancers. After all, an older person's/adult's life was already lived - how about giving children a chance?
It reminded me of an exercise that a teacher had a class of mine do. We had to imagine that we were on an island, and that all of those stated to be there were not going to be able to make it. We had to decide - I believe unanimously - who that would be.
I remember sticking up for the oldest person in the group that everyone else thought should be let go - because they were the oldest. I do not remember the outcome of the exercise, but I remember the teacher writing me a note that simply said, "stick to your guns!"
I do not recall exactly what the case was that I was making, but I had believed that an older person had not lost their value just because they were older, and tried to explain why I thought it was a pretty short-sighted way to think.
That exercise always stuck with me, and so does the idea that we disregard people way too easily on occasion because of a label we have them wear. We make judgments and assessments and then we make decisions that can impact ourselves and others as a result. We don't really need to do it, and yet we feel we have to - especially when there is as perception that something is in lack, or we have some related fear. If we don't have enough of something, then who is valuable enough to get it? We wind up making comparisons so we make the "right" choice.
At the end of the class, my classmates and I talked about how we all thought it an uncomfortable exercise. But we did it, because we were told to. The discussion of that only came, though, around the same time our teacher questioned us as to why we did it without question/so willingly.
Perhaps if we all listened to what felt right or best for us, we wouldn't feel as compelled to label and compare and make the judgments we do. When I do what feels right, it often doesn't fit my, or someone else's, judgments. It isn't logical. It doesn't make sense. But I do it any way, and often in spite of what I would otherwise assess.
That young woman had good intentions. There is no doubt about that. But the thing is that if people were to act on her voice alone, and not by what they feel was the right thing to do, then it might be possible that the action being taken isn't being taken for the right reasons. Not only that, but it might take away from a place their support might best be placed.
As a group we thought the right reason to do the exercise was because our teacher told us to. However it seems that we might have been right to outwardly question it to begin with. It seems to me that part of the intention of the exercise is to question the things we don't normally question, instead of going where it seems it is assumed we should go.
Arguments can be made against, or in favor of, anything. A case can always be made for a point of view. If we walk around being swayed by what others say and believe, then there is a chance we will lose something valuable in the process.
By saying we need to choose between things, and wanting others to make the same choices, we may be taking away a valuable voice in the process. We may be telling those who are older that they have lost their value. We may be telling the sick that they aren't worth the effort. We may be telling the young they never had any value to begin with.
However, in each and every case, there is value to be had, if we only allow ourselves to recognize the possibilities that come from the things that sing to us. If childhood cancer speaks to someone, then the person should definitely speak to the concerns. If issues about sexual abuse speaks to another, then the person should definitely talk about what they know, and seek support to help those who may need help.
I think the value truly comes, though, when the concern itself is addressed without minimizing something else in the process. Each thing has its own foundation that is that much stronger when it stands on its own, without standing on a leg that belongs to someone - or something - else.
As a whole, we are never stronger by making another piece weaker. If we could get better at allowing people their choices and we could get better at listening to the choices that call to us, perhaps we would find peace around the things that do and do not happen. The fact is that many, if not all, of the comparisons do not truly serve us, nor do they solve the problems we appear to be trying to solve.
What if we realized that we all mattered, and did all we could to honor and respect the lives of those who share the planet with us? What if we allowed for the differences and honored them, knowing that because one stands for something, others will likely also stand with them, and that it is a good thing. It is a good thing because we can not ever be all things to all people at all times. As a result, there will be another part of "us" that can take care of those we can't.
This is not to say that a majority seeking an outcome is not a good or valuable thing, however there are cases that could make cases on both ends of the spectrum in that regard. That is why I believe listening to our own inner voice is the best direction any of us could ever take.
If something is important to us, it is a good thing to speak up for it, and take a stand. There is a lot to be said for the ability to do that, as so often it is much easier to remain silent and just say and do what is expected.
It is in the contrasts of life that we have the conversations we do. It is the contrasts that we learn and grow and become who we are. In the contrasts we learn where we will stand, and find the holes through which we fall. It is also in the contrasts that we get to see who will extend their hand, and help us stand. In the times of contrasts, we can stand together as human beings without having to stand apart as our differences.