I heard that title quote while listening to a YouTube video produced by a woman I had never heard of before reading a review of her book on Hearthrose’s blog. I am still contemplating much of it, so don’t take this as an endorsement of her positions. I don’t agree with everything she says. In fact I could pick quite a few nits with some of it. But that quote? It resonated with me in a very deep way.
The life experiences I have gathered in more than 40 years of life has provided glaring evidence of the validity of this statement. I need my girls to understand, as they so often find themselves out of step with much of this culture’s dark, dead understanding of what life is all about, that the contempt they encounter is more about the ones offering it than it is about them. It could just as easily mean they are doing things right as that they are doing anything wrong. In fact, in this current era, the former is likely a much better bet than the latter. As with all things of course, get with some worthy of your trust to help you figure out which if you’re not sure.
Whether in “real” or pixel life, it has taken me the better part of the last 25 years to finally -and hopefully completely- get over people’s nonsensical need to criticize, jab, nit pick, and denigrate others for no other reason than the desire to exercise their fantasy power over the way others live their lives and use, or not use, their voice. It might be painfully hard for those who know me only through this medium to appreciate, but yes. I have been treated to contempt for NOT using my voice.
Here’s the thing though, and it’s been said here before. The list of people to whom we should offer that kind of power, the power to influence our voice, peace, or joy is such a short list! Think about that for a minute. If you are not a leader of a large group of people in an official or spiritual capacity, how many people possess authority or have earned the right to say “Don’t do this”, or “You shouldn’t think that”, or “You shouldn’t say this, that, or the other”? I’d wager very few.
Unfortunately, our culture has trained us to be ego chasers (borrowed that one from the YouTube lady), provided the tools to do so, and encouraged us to track the worth of our lives or lack thereof based on the opinions of strangers. This actually robs us of the ability to be real. We live our lives looking in the mirror, if not physically, then metaphorically, but we’re always looking.
Many people look at their life reflected and hate what they see. Rather than fix it, they find someone else to drag through the mud, which does nothing to improve their state of mind or personal situation. It does however, provide just enough distraction and entertainment value that they can -for a little while at least- ignore how much they aren’t doing to improve their lot in life.
Opt out of that craziness. Opt out of that insanity, and doing so doesn’t necessarily mean going off grid like Esther Emery and her family. It will require however, that as we live more real lives, with real accountability, and experience real joy, that we be prepared to ignore the voices of those who do not matter. That we grow thick skins without developing a hard heart. It’s easier to do that if you recognize from the outset:
“Authenticity combined with joy may arouse contempt.”