Editing out the bad…REALLY???

editing out the bad

By Kenneth Justice

~  The other day at coffee a mid-fortyish woman was telling my friend and I about her ‘fabulous’ life and was showing us pictures from a cruise she had just returned from, “I had such a wonderful Thanksgiving with my family, I recently bought a new car, and we’re going to Florida for Christmas…everything is awesome!” she said

After the woman left the café my friend that was sitting with me responded quite sadly, “Dude, I feel like my life sucks compared to hers….now I feel kinda depressed” he said

Actually, the picture the woman painted of her life for my friend was not the entire story. Having talked with her occasionally over the past few months I happen to know;

—) She almost cheated on her husband last year with an old boyfriend and is living with the guilt because she still secretly talks to the ex-boyfriend and hasn’t cut the relationship off

—) She recently found out that her 11 year old son is looking at pornography on the Internet all the time and she’s not sure what to do

—) She’s been having to care for her aging mother who’s health is failing and it’s been putting a major strain on her family

Maybe I’m seeing things that aren’t there but I’ve noticed a new trend in Western Culture; people are editing out the bad from our lives. Perhaps this trend is connected to the rise of Social Network sites like Facebook which encourage users to post all the wonderful moments of their lives…while at the same time leaving out all of the everyday mundane moments.

Although I no longer have a personal Facebook account I’m quite familiar with the typical fare to be found; people will post pictures of their vacations, their new automobile, fun times at a party….and if you only went by the photos on their timeline you would think all these ‘average’ people are living ‘above average’ lives!

The simple truth of the matter is that people generally omit the bad because it’s not like you’re going to post photos of yourself; sick in bed, picking up the toys the children left all over the living room, doing the laundry, using the bathroom (although perhaps some people do!) ….and all of the other mundane day-to-day moments of our lives.

Social networks remind me a lot of the after-the-service conversations that take place at church. The Sunday service is over and people stand around and have these quick 2-minute ‘status-update conversations’

—) How’s work going

—) How are the children?

—-) Do anything fun this past week?

The conversations are so tame and dull you would think everyone is living absolutely perfect lives where nothing ever goes wrong…..except; we know this isn’t the case. We know that people who go to church struggle with the very same things that everyone else grapples with;

—) 50% of church goers have bad marriages that lead to divorce

—) church goers participate in pre-marital and extra-marital sex

—)  church goers struggle with addictions to alcohol and drugs

—) church goers struggle to maintain a balance between their careers and family

What I’m trying to get at it is that in many areas of our lives we tend to edit-out-the-bad because our culture encourages us to do so. Western Culture is very individualistic and promotes a ‘your-on-your own’ mentality. Instead of learning how to interact and communicate more deeply with each other, we feel like we have to do everything on our own.

—) Is your marriage on the rocks; it’s up to you to fix things all on your own

—) Is your boyfriend being a jerk; it’s up to you to fix the relationship all on your own

—) Are you unemployed; it’s up to you to find a job that will cover your finances all on your own

—) Are you lonely and need friends; it’s up to you to build a community around yourself

A few years ago I asked the minister at a local church why he didn’t do more to help the congregants in his church, “I’m not aware of any congregants in need” he said.

What are you talking about? I don’t even go to your church and I know from firsthand information that John ****** has been unemployed for a year and in need of a job, and that Sue ***** is stressed out because she has been working a second job at night in order to pay all her bills” I said

Well, unless the people come to me and tell me they need help I can’t be responsible for their problems” the minister said

Isn’t that so typical of the attitude in Western Culture; the minister is basically saying that these people in need are ‘on their own’ unless they come to him for help….and so I’m left wondering; why can’t the minister go help them before they come to him?

While social networks are not inherently bad….I’m concerned that they are being used to paint imperfect pictures of our lives; if we’re not careful social networks could transform our culture for the worse…..

Maybe I’m living in dream world, but I believe our lives are enhanced when we help each other out and don’t try to do everything on-our-own….of course, perhaps I’m simply just a loon who is way too idealistic.

Just a few thoughts as I was drinking my coffee,

Kenneth

 



Categories: relationships

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98 replies

  1. Once again I could add an entire post in answer to this post, but you know my blog well enough to know I keep nothing behind closed doors. That is one of the reasons I have moved off of Facebook too…My sister is one of those who always compares her life to others she sees posting on FB, and feels bad about herself. People let you see what they want to believe. I reached out for help twice this year through gofundme and was shamed by enough “friends” on facebook to just take down my fundraiser. People made me feel horrible about asking for help. Oh, and I haven’t made a post out of respect for hubby, but my marriage is dead. Gosh, see? I told you it would be a post!

  2. I’ve been advised “Don’t compare your insides to others’ Outsides”. Self pity is fueled by my ego telling me that everyone else is feeling so great, what is your problem. So I made a pact to never ask someone “How are you?”. I just start sharing observations of the day. It seems to put the other person at ease to talk authentically. Unfortunately emotional pain can’t be masked with stuff or busyness. If I am brave enough to share my frustrations with another person, I get freed up to move on. Loons like you make ideals happen.

    • “Unfortunately emotional pain can’t be masked with stuff or busyness”

      Ellen, that is a really powerful sentence…..so true. People try to cover up the s**t they are going through with constant busyness…..

  3. It’s also easy to brag about the good in life, and by cloaking yourself in what is going well, a person can fantasize that everything IS good…for a little while. Then there’s the fact that exposing the bad makes a person vulnerable. I was shocked by how many cousins said they had miscarriages after I had one. There’s a taboo against announcing the bad news, as though a person is seeking attention. Or maybe it’s just too painful to fess up about. In any case, it certainly isn’t healthy to be “all good all the time”.

    • “It’s also easy to brag about the good in life, and by cloaking yourself in what is going well, a person can fantasize that everything IS good”

      Right! And while I want to be careful not to ‘bash’ facebook and instragram and other social network sites…that is the concern I have with them; that they can end up being a tool used to ‘brag’ instead of being used as a tool to merely communicate

    • I completely agree with that! It happens that I am a pretty big facebook user, but not in a ‘all is good’ way. It’s a convenient way to keep in contact with family across the pond, as international calling can get pricey in a hurry! We use facebook to arrange Skype calls, so that saves a lot of hassle. But yeah, I’ve seen several friends use it as the Bragging Dumping Grounds before.

    • ” It’s a convenient way to keep in contact with family across the pond, as international calling can get pricey in a hurry”

      right, its examples like this why I don’t want to say that people shouldn’t use facebook; because if we use it properly it can end up being a good tool 🙂

  4. Personal matters , are private too. Unless people want to share, no one has a right to talk about it. although, rumors rage wild. Once, the news is disclosed it becomes a gossip, spicy and juicy to ridicule. Bad things happening in life, has to be settled within walls , unless it takes the level of a crime{ wife battering etc). Now, the question of getting envious or jealous , that happens when someone is suffocating with their achievements , in those areas where we are lacking . In one of the social gathering, a close relative told me,” Your dress is not really impressive, otherwise important people would talk to you ” To which I replied,” My dress is decent and modest, it reflects me…and since the important people don’t like it..that is there problem not mine “

  5. I agree with the minister. Unless someone asks for help it is insensitive and invasive to confront them. People have the right to privacy and to ask or not ask for help.

    • I totally respect that view…..I just wonder though how many people are could really use help but don’t know how to ask for it…sometimes the best kind of help can be that which was never sought out; when a stranger, acquaintance, or friend merely does something wonderful for another person who was never even asking for anything

    • There are ways to help that don’t involve confronting people. I know of a church where they have a group specifically for people out of works. It’s a place where they can communicate with others going through (or who have been through) the same struggles and where people who are interested in hiring someone can present the job they have to offer.

      The only ‘confrontation’ involved in that example is a notice in the bulletin and contact information for the group.

    • Good example TK…..

      The more I thought about this thread today I also was thinking about the fact that theres nothing wrong with sending people in need money anonymously……that way they don’t have to be ‘confronted’ per se

  6. I’m looney too. Always enjoy reading your words . . Thanks

  7. I’ve had friends who’ve posted the ‘bad’ parts of their life and the negative happenings that they’ve experienced and not in a whiny, complaining tone but in a revealing and open fashion. People have created the most raw, genuine poems from difficult circumstances. I admire this! I admire those who share the parts of life that’s not so nice. For me, I respect the expression.
    1) it is not easy getting naked in front of the world
    2) this form of vulnerability can help another person

    So, I myself, decided to write of pains I was experiencing in life. I thought to myself, writing in such a fashion can possibly help someone — meaning, with the commonality. Some people find relief when they come to the realization that they are not the only ones experiencing a common grief or hardship. It takes great courage to expose one’s tribulations or transgressions.
    In return, I received a message stating how pathetic I appeared to be playing a ‘victim’. This stung!

    For me, it was a form of expression, that I thought was admirable, for the strength and courage of revealing such profound occurrences. Like you said, everyone so easily posts all the wonderful things and events in their lives but to be able to strip down and express the difficulties and repercussions is not an easy task. The bottom line is, even the “bad stuff” is part of life………. so why not write about it? For some, it may even be therapeutic.

    Great post!

    • “In return, I received a message stating how pathetic I appeared to be playing a ‘victim’. This stung!”

      wow! dude, I would have been really pissed off

      “The bottom line is, even the “bad stuff” is part of life………. so why not write about it? For some, it may even be therapeutic.”

      exactly….I fear that too many people are ‘programmed’ to act as though ‘everything is okay’ when everything really isn’t okay….

    • Yeah, I have some friends that write about the downsides too, but they try to do it with some insight, and often with a lot of humor.

      While I think that we do have a trend of omitting the bad parts in our society– the bad isn’t completely hid. I think a disparity has been created, and some are writing about the bad, in the whiny, complaining tone as you describe– an invitation, perhaps, for pity. Or worse, they are writing about the bad, laying blame to everyone else but themselves, and they invite gossip, and scorn. I’ve seen LOTS of this in my 10 years of blogging, and other online social interactions. I did some of it myself.

  8. Now that your words have really sunk in . . have to agree. Yes, the world is changing almost too fast. We need to keep up with these changes. Sharing is the most important thing we do. Keeping communication open and honest can help bring us together here. I like how you get straight to it. No messing around.

    • ” Keeping communication open and honest can help bring us together here”

      right; that is why certain forms of technology concern me; instead of creating better communication it seems as though they are actually being used to break-down communication.

      many young people are growing up in a culture where all they know is text messaging; so they are communicating with each other via 140 character text’s rather than fully expressed thoughts……

    • Long story short. Been around awhile. Seen change happen. Not much has changed in face to face. We need to be like them, inorder to keep them close. Make sense ?

    • “We need to be like them, inorder to keep them close. Make sense ?”

      yes, totally get what your saying 🙂

  9. hehe! I kinda feel left out on the FB thingie. I post the good, the great and the ugly. Mostly people get kinda ish-ish that am being moody when I post an angry status, but then, its MY status. People like pretending plenty and I don’t get why. I too am poor at reaching out to people but I try making myself available to them in ways that they know, they can talk to me if need be- which counts i hope. I’d hate to be that person who looks the other way.

  10. Every sober public communication is selected in or out. I share my vulnerabilities and good times with those I trust because I trust them and they trust me. That’s what family and “friends” are for. Social media is media and social. The “How are you (and please don’t really tell me – that’s not why I asked)?” sort of stuff. The stiff upper lip kind of stuff doncha know. Are you not British at all, Kenneth? 🙂 

    • Paul,

      I’m British at heart 😉 I spent time in London years ago and fell in love with the place….if I could afford it I would spend half my year living in Great Britain

    • You have my eternal love and affection for just writing (that forbidden phrase we may no longer utter within our own shores) “Great Britain”. It’s awfully nice of you, young fella me lad, doncha know. (“you ‘k?” out)

    • ? Do the British no longer refer to your isle as ‘great Britain?’ what do they call it…’just Britain?’

    • We are officially UK (United Kingdom) on all documents, passports, etc. (and Scotland has a referendum on independence from “the union” next year). We are Great Britain in spirit. UK everywhere else. And not much United soon – maybe. But, hey hoh, mustn’t grumble doncha know – it’s not all bad. :-).

    • wow, I mean I realized that it is officially United Kingdom when including Ireland, Scotland, etc)…but when I think specifically of the Isle you are living on I thought everyone still referred to it as Great Britain….I didn’t know that its not a common term anymore

    • It’s an interesting one. Internally I am still GB. Externally I am UK. And Europe is a big cumbersome admin function. But I also think the young folk increasingly see themselves with a national identity but within Europe.
      We came to your country and fell in love. From a distance it is one unified madhouse. Up close and personal it is one dysfunctional madhouse. And so very very vast! And so complex – beautifully complex!

    • “We came to your country and fell in love”

      well I came to your country and fell in love! lol I wish I could live in the UK 🙂

    • If you ever need a place to stop … not for ever obviously! 🙂 The coffee is getting better out and about, but we are still instant granules at home mostly.

    • “instant coffee” oh no Paul….we need to get you a French press 😉

    • Le Figaro – REALLY? 🙂

  11. All the good stuff of our lives are being posted so there is nothing to talk about since all knows. And the bad is not for discussing with friends. We are told to do it on our own. to make it on our own. yes we are even selfish when in need of help. We can be idealistic and extent a hand for help, but they still need to grab it. They still need to pass the shame of needing help.
    small side note. those who do reach out sometimes have the strangest of request in return as if it isn’t done for nothing. the helpers want to gain from it. that is also a pain in society.

    • “. those who do reach out sometimes have the strangest of request in return as if it isn’t done for nothing. the helpers want to gain from it. that is also a pain in society.”

      this is a really interesting point….i’ll have to think about this some more

    • To something that happened. A woman going for food bank to get some food for her kids. the first step is a step of shame. the church where it was located first asked if she went to church there. It is hard to ask for help even more so if something is asked in return since you have nothing.
      it is the idea of I will scratch your back if only you.. it is so low.

    • dude, that kind of thing makes me so f***ing mad…I’ve heard of similar things; when I used to work at the rehab clinic and they make me so mad…

      if someone is going to the food bank it shouldn’t matter whether or not they attend the church….

      thanks for the great comments

  12. Pride, one of the hardest feelings to let go of, I’d say. I agree, the minister should be more proactive. Being in tune with your community is imperative, the problem is that they have so much to do already. Spread so thin each and every day. I think more churches should encourage small group settings. People who are strong in their faith can help to minister to others, they tend to have more time to notice the important stuff going on in a quiet person’s life.

    And the woman with the fantastic life, yeah she’s counting on those positives to keep her going. It’s so much easier to live life with those who paint the perfect picture, if you quietly sit back and really listen to them. I’ve ministered to many a woman with these exact deflectors. First and foremost they need a friend who will listen and push back just a bit.

    I need to warm my coffee…

    • “. the minister should be more proactive. Being in tune with your community is imperative, the problem is that they have so much to do already. ”

      agreed….there are many that don’t believe the minister or church should be ‘proactive’; but that the church should only help those who make their needs known….and I’m not saying that I am 100% right….but it seems like to me that some people are to embarrassed to make their needs known and the church should reach out to them regardless….

    • I agree with you. People don’t share easily. Ideally, Pastors should be able to fit it all in. I think they need people behind them letting them know they’ve lost touch with their flock.

    • In my faith, we have what we call the home teaching and visiting teaching programs, which are extended to all women of the Relief Society, and all men of the Priesthood, including boys in the teachers’ quorum. Each man is assigned at least one family, and each woman is assigned at least one woman. It’s not a perfect program, but this is our structure for ministry, that each member in a ward (congregation) can see that everyone’s needs are met.

      I usually report to my quorum leadership, but I have asked for help from my bishop (pastor) when I needed to, and I did so recently.

    • Yes, its a team effort no matter the faith. We all need to seek out and take care of others.

    • I had a friend (not of my faith) tell me that it was analogous to what members of the early Christian church did, meeting in each other’s homes. That really inspired me to look at our programs in a new light, and remember how much good I have seen participating.

    • Yes, it truly allows for pastoring each other. We have Navigators at our church. They have gone through extensive training, so leaning on them comes easily. It allows for all of us to grow.

  13. Well from one loon to another…I think we are here to help each other…so forward we go..
    And call me crazy..but I think we do not need permission to help another out…but then you know me..a loon and crazy….go figure…

  14. Living the real world with fake people.
    I understand that we can’t open up to everyone or everywhere, but don’t act like you care or find excuses for never making a phone call, sharing your thoughts, offering your help..
    Don’t laugh at others problems today, because tomorrow will be pounding at your door. It’s part of our life dealing and facing the reality, but it’s the other part of our weakness to admit the truth. I experience that hits the hardest when I run and hide from problems.
    Kenneth, you hit hard and deep, but how many of us are listening?

  15. Facebook and other social media is so bad for that stuff but to be fair… it’s partly due to people b*tching about everyone doing nothing but complaining on Facebook, etc. So it’s swung the other way lol. It just makes me shake my head. I don’t think people should have to go it alone but I suppose I have a little different perspective on the matter as I’ve had to go it alone because there isn’t anyone literally around to help. It’s not always so bad to learn to be self-reliant, HOWEVER, that can become so burdensome. People do need support at times. It’s odd but sometimes I prefer when people aren’t so willing to tell the full truth right off. Let me explain – those who go into their whole sob stories, etc., tend to make me feel uncomfortable because in my experience, those folks are gunning for something; they may even be fraudulent. They’re being just as disingenuous as someone who’s trying to make themselves out to look perfect. When dating, I really dislike it when someone’s tells me way too much information right in the beginning because, again, in my experience this means he’s gunning for the sympathy card. Who knows if what he’s allegedly going through is even real. That said, there’s a balance to be struck. Tell the truth without coming off as trying to guilt someone into helping you.

    • ” When dating, I really dislike it when someone’s tells me way too much information right in the beginning because, again, in my experience this means he’s gunning for the sympathy card”

      I’m totally with you on that Jen…..even outside of dating; when I meet new people, it can be overwhelming to meet someone new and have them go into a really long ‘sob story’ about their life even though I barely know the person.

  16. I guess I don’t try to craft a fake persona on FB as much as I really really don’t like airing dirty laundry for all to see. I’ve always understood folks who let all their business out to be viewed as low class. Whether that take is fair or not is an entirely different matter, but I’m mostly thinking of the reality TV folks. But then again, I don’t go out of my way to sound particularly jubilant either. I’m just muddling along…like everyone else.

    • ” I’m just muddling along…like everyone else”

      I love that sentence…its how I feel myself most of the time

    • I hear you. More so when the dirty laundry is aired to great melodrama. But when I see someone laughing at their troubles, really seeing the humor in it so they don’t cry so much… I have a lot of respect for that person. Even if elements can be cringe-worthy at times, they tend to inspire me to do the same. Lookin’ good, even if feelin’ bad, ya dig?

    • I agree completely. I think it’s the drama that gets me – good point. People who have learned to laugh at themselves are priceless.

  17. I deactivated my account and have been active probably 3 months in the past couple years. For me, every time I saw the question “What is on your mind,” I couldn’t get myself to fake it, so I chose to say nothing 90% of the time. I could have easily photo-shopped a glowing picture of myself smiling to get a bunch of likes just to feel better, but that just felt stupid. I feel like it’s more about “reactions” than “connections.” I have actually typed in, but never published “What is on my mind is why everyone is being so fake and happy all the time. I am sitting here sad and none of my friends even know or care.” Instead I wrote a poem as my way of saying screw fb, published it then deactivated my account 🙂 . Call me immature for it, but I was very frustrated.(http://trangworks.wordpress.com/2013/11/18/facebook/). I can understand why people don’t like bashing fb (or social media), but I don’t mind. It had a negative effect on me. The WordPress community has something fb doesn’t and that’s genuine connection.

    • Maybe that’s why I eventually gave up my personal fb; because I’m not good at faking it either…..I dunno, I guess I would also rathe get a phone call from friends to hear abou their life rather than just seeing pictures of them….

  18. People need to be in small accountability groups where rules are established up front, such as:
    -the things we say to each other are to be kept private in this group
    -we share things that matter, not just put on a good face
    -we respect each other
    -we hold each other accountable for doing the right thing, which also means asking each other if we are doing the right thing.
    These groups need to meet regularly and over time they will lead to openness and trust that will lead to genuine support and sharing. In my experience this has happened in a small group Bible study over about 15 years with about 4-8 men.

    • This sounds a lot like the addiction recovery and support groups I was in, including 12 Step ones. I’d never heard about it in a study group setting, but it seems like you saw great results.

      I miss groups like this, because of that openness and trust that was built. Hmm, just discussed this with the missus– we will try this for our Family Home Evening/family night tonight.

  19. I think there is more to this than meets the eye. People have been indoctrinated into the idea of only showing the better side of life. In many ways it makes sense…with so many employers checking out social media sites of prospective employees, it’s a good idea not to air your woes publicly, Also, way more people will become privy to your life, maybe some you don’t want to know.

    I think that you are able to get people to confide in you, their most intimate details because you are safe person. Obviously that minister you spoke with is ineffective since no one wants to talk to him about their problems. When that women told you her problems, she felt safe to tell you…but maybe she did not feel comfortable sharing that with the other woman who was there. The danger in telling the bad stuff to is the horrible feeling that runs through your head…I am a failure…I’m bad…whatever label they attach to the darker side of themselves. Who wants to share that with the world? People want to be remembered for the good that they did and for their successes.

    On the other hand, there are those who share everything with every one…the open book so to speak. Reality shows that it is hard not to make judgements about someone. What impression does this last person emanate? Would you hire them? Tell your secrets to them? Discretion is not necessarily a bad thing.

    • Well, to be fair, the minister I talked to had a very differnt philosophy….you and I agree that he is ineffective, but he would argue that he doesn’t share our view that it’s necessary for him to reach ou to people who havnt asked him for help…..

  20. Thank you for presenting your views on this. You make a lot of excellent points. I don’t think that social media is necessarily to blame however, because I have seen it, even when social media wasn’t around, and I don’t know that it’s necessarily worse now. Only social media makes it appear worse because we are so much more connected to everybody’s small talk than we used to be.

    Let’s face it, negative emotions can really ruin your day. While I certainly think that it’s valuable to talk about it and confront these negative aspects, there is a time and a place for them. It may also be healthy to put them aside for a time and just enjoy something light, distracting, and pleasant. Now it could be quite possible that people are just omitting the bad for the purpose of keeping up appearances, but it could also be that those more difficult emotional battles we all fight are best left to discuss with people we trust more, or a more private setting. Things like cheating spouses and young boys addicted to internet porn are not the sort of conversations that one thinks of bringing up casually. Especially if one only plans on chatting for a few minutes. Because deeper emotions require time to bring out especially since they often leave us feeling confused and frightened. That doesn’t mean that I don’t wish that people would talk about these things more. I think that we would be better off for it, but it does as you say cause us to admit some harsh truths about the world, whether it is the difficulties associated with marriage, or the difficulties associated with parenting. Many of our problems simply persist or get worse simply because we would rather not admit them even to ourselves. I am a very open person and I find that as a result of my openness people feel freer to be open with me. But when it comes to the pain we fill and the struggles we go through, even while I know it lessens the burden to share it, it can simply feel uncomfortable to place some of that burden on someone else. For me, it was a huge turning point in my life when I finally told someone that I have an alcoholic father. Since then I never looked back because I realized the sense of relief when you feel like you are not the only one feeling depressed, anxious, angry, confused.

    I don’t think that the individualistic vs collective model presents much differences here. In fact in many ways it is worse. I am half Indian so I’m familiar with at least that collective society. Part of the reason why my father is alcoholic is because he too had untreated childhood trauma and in that collectivist society men were supposed to just buck up and deal with it. More than that, there is often nowhere to even go, when as a collective people make a decision about your problem as being arbitrary. I think that’s ultimately the worst thing you can say to someone who is feeling hurt that they should just “get over it”. Women often have nowhere to go when abused by their husband, because as a collective your role is different than it is here and you cannot act on your individuality because of what the group will think, and there are no other groups to go to. Most likely though because you are raised in a collective society you will convince yourself even that your individualistic tendencies are wrong and not fight against the injustice shown to you. I truly don’t think one type of society is better than the other. Psychologically our sense of self is just as important as how we interact with others. In fact both are connected because it is only through knowing others that our brains start to develop a sense of self and we start to individuate. I truly believe that we work better as a collective, but that is true especially when each of us have strengths as individuals that are different from each other. So it is important to both develop your individualistic side and your collective side and find a balance somewhere in between. We also need better attitudes towards the value of emotional and mental health.

    Despite our individualistic tendencies in this country I find many people who want to be part of a group. Whether it is a certain religion, a political party, a race, an ethnicity, a patriot, etc. We seek out these groups that have a specific definition and then we hide the things about ourselves that might cause us to get ostracized because we don’t fit that definition. The first words of the constitution are “We the people”, and those are great words, because that is truly the group we are part of. Humanity. And we are far from perfect. We can all get better together when we stop trying to define and label each other, because those differences are arbitrary. There are far more things that we all have in common than we have differences.

    I am apologize for the long comment and a bit of a digression perhaps. That is a sign of an excellent blog post though, is that it got me thinking about a lot of things. 🙂

    • Dude, love your example regarding collective culture….while I’ve read a ton about non-western culture (and I hav a couple good cofffee fiends who are from India) I’m generally hesitant to make and strong sweeping remarks about all the countries outside of the western world because I don’t have any firsthand experience myself; I’d rather have people such as your fill in blanks with more educated opinions……

      No apologies needed on the length of the comment either….half of the emails Ive been getting recently are from readers who tell me they enjoy the comments to my blog more than reading my articles lol

  21. I think people have always compared themselves to others, but now, rather than seeing how our immediate circle are doing we get constant updates on 400 or so people. Whenever I see photos of people on facebook having a fabulous time I just remember we all have our ups and downs and there are always going to be people better off and worse off than me!

  22. Oh my…the ministers who are not me who need people to need them….hello, Kenneth…I hope your day is going well..

    And my point about pointing out the minister thing is that I am INDEED one of those ministers who is not the sort who will edit out the bad. IN fact, my entirety of purpose, I know, is helping people make sense of the bad so that they can see the good.

    My thought is like yours, sir, in that ministers-we are here and in service to the people, not here so that we can be worshiped as the guy who is the very eminence of whatever God it is that said and certain ministers are posted at their posts to pretend to be.

    Yeah…I said it…and people need to deal with the idea that ministers, namely those of gigantic churches, at least the ones that this minister has had the misfortune of counting all 8 of their hands and playing “don’t touch the psychic’s ass” with have shown me.

    The typical Western culture has us believing, okay most of us, that somewhere up in the sky thre is this big guy in a white robe with a big ole beard waiting to judge us and make us feel like our lives were meant to be anything but great. It seems that these ministers have it in their head that they are representative of God himself, inhuman form, and that the human must be worshiped like the entity. (Yes, I repeated myself)

    NOT ONE OF US was sent to this lifetime to wait til people are at their lowest point in life before we will bother with the question “Is everything okay?” and more importantly “is there anything that I can do for you?”
    Apparently, there are a whole lot of preachers who think that their congregants don’t need them to inquire about the well-being of the people who they expect worship from…

    Just sayin’
    ROX
    PS- always a great read !

    • Roxie,

      Great comments…..the world needs more ministers like yourself…although I often get discouraged at the lack of minsters out there who are truly getting their hands dirty by interacting with people in order to serve them better….when I meet the few who are doing it I’m given a little burst of hope 🙂

  23. Excellent post. You first grabbed my attention when you shared that you are not a Facebook user. Nothing against Facebook, but I’m having trouble getting it. I’m finding that people today need real people. Their seems to be an epidemic of loneliness. Perhaps we struggle to trust because of past disappointments. It’s easy to be somebody else in this virtual world afraid to reveal the real person inside. And that’s scary business.

    • Dave,

      Yea although I do have a Facebook page set up for my blog, I deleted my personal Facebook a couple years ago because like you; I really didn’t “get it” either……it’s the epidemic of loneliness that really gets to me because I’m seeing this problem with people everywhere and I fear that tools like Facebook may be compounding the problem….

  24. This is so so true! A sad testament to our culture!

  25. A great post that reminds me of Thoreau’s remark that “Men lead lives of silent desperation”.

  26. Our culture seems to be polarizing on whether to emphasize the positive or reveal the negative. To me, it seems sensible to focus on the positive sometimes — as that seems to help us notice the positive — while also telling the truth about the tough parts. The tricky bit is HOW we do this. How to share the good news without sounding boastful and in a way that people can feel happy for us rather than bad about themselves. How to share the tough stuff — to the right people — without whining or blaming. Now this is something they should teach in schools! I would be the first to sign up….

    • “Now this is something they should teach in schools! ”

      I agree….it seems like the there are a lot of things that should be taught in schools that are being overlooked…perhaps its time to reevaluate how we do school in America and what subjects really matter….

  27. I edit everything I say about my life . . . just the funny stuff survives . . . do anybody REALLY want to know anyways?

    Do anybody really want to hear about my prostate that’s as large as a watermelon? . . . or how hard it is just to get out of bed in the morning when you are 71 years old? . . . of course not.

    Does anyone really want to know the reality of war and the stench of death and how easy it is to get used to it? . . . of course not.

    In America nobody wants to be first in line to break the bubble for everybody else . . .

    we want “hero” stories . . . we want to believe we actually are so privileged that we need not fear that which we all are growing to fear . . .

    and like I say, I’d rather stick with the funny stuff . . . it’s so much easier on everybody involved.

    • It’s true that largely we want to hear/read the fluffy stuff. It just might be me, but I find reading/hearing about the struggles of others helps me in my life. Whether it’s putting my troubles in perspective, or empathizing with the person. This is what deepens my love of others.

      Those war stories are what makes us think, and realize that maybe the battlefield is not as glorious as a John Wayne movie.

    • yeah . . . that is the rest of the story as Paul Harvey used to say . . . war ? No man can express the experience of death up close and personal well enough.

      This is as close as I can get . . .

      VA DAY

      I saw the brother in a wheel chair sitting in a corner of the room.
      Missed him on first glance
      Don’t know how I could have.
      His eyes, locked in fight or flight, filled the room with their emptiness. (Does he ever blink?)

      A sensitive soul perhaps
      Unable to make the midnight blast from family farm to killing field.
      Had not the bravado to shake hands with the dead
      Nor shake the smell of napalm from his nose.

      Taught the fight was among men
      Hand to hand on the field of battle.
      Glory…..Honor and Heroism.
      No one mentioned the sight of children dying
      And old women crying
      And old men frying.

      The brother in a wheel chair
      Had a tale to tell
      But it seemed that few could listen
      As the truth is hard to hear.
      No need.
      His eyes, they told it for him.

      As I passed him in the lobby
      And he sat there all alone
      It took me less that a minute to think this thought.
      The brother in a wheel chair appeared to have been
      Locked in the same thought for the last forty years.

    • Thank you for sharing that. So powerful.

  28. Looks like this post hit a nerve..lol.
    Well for what its worth, I am going to add my two cents worth Kenneth.
    I am going to disagree (wholeheartedly) with the minister. And here’s why:
    a) Ministers do not “go out to visit their sheep” like they use to . They are missing it completely. How is a minister suppose to know what is going on in a HOME or with his people unless he visits? HE DON’T. Home life tells more at unexpected visits. I can remember our minister showing up and sitting down for dinner!
    b) ON THAT NOTE…ministers have more to do in church now than every before due to common law. They dont visit homes and family. THIS IS WHERE THE DEACONS AND LAY LEADERS SHOULD STEP IN. But they dont. And when they do, it seems gossip and indignation erupts. All of a sudden, fingers are pointed at the minister.
    c) Facebok? simply.. it just = poison. Add a church on Facebook and good grief, the minister now has more time to play than pray for his parishoners. Do you see how ducked up the church has become?

    And we wonder why we are all lost….
    Great post as always Kenneth.

  29. I always feel lost in these social networks. I hate the growing fact that it’s becoming a necessity. My family uses it’s private messaging for communications. I tried to tell them if it is possible to just email me, but it seems they don’t know how to email.. 😦 I am an artist so I have tried to share some works there, but I always feel discouraged cause people who just took a picture of their face are getting so many likes, while mine I really worked my butt off for months really seem like deliberately ignored for some reason.. Servants I think just don’t belong there.. I think it’s a self- service kind of gathering..

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