As with most of my blog posts, this is something that has been sticking in my craw lately.
(yes, I am part hillbilly. DEAL)
And while this applies to being a special needs parent, what I am writing about today also applies to being human. As in homo sapien. A part of the race of creatures controlling this planet.
Pet Peeve #8824: Telling people how to feel.
It’s right up there with the phrase “you should”
Lately, as I read friends write posts about the R-word—a word I am now vehemently against using, contrary to my youth—I see the same response: “YOU’RE TOO SENSITIVE”
When I see other special needs parents discuss their own feelings about their child’s disability, I see them met with “YOUR FEELINGS ARE ABUSIVE”
When I refuse to do certain “patriotic” things like say the pledge of allegiance because of personal, deeply held beliefs, I am met with “YOUR FEELINGS ARE WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS COUNTRY”
And it is REALLY starting to annoy me. That last nerve I have, the one that looks all raggedy and torn—these people are jumping up and down on it like a cirque du soleil dancer in a Vegas show.
I get it. We all have opinions of how we think the world should be. For example, I’ve got this crazy notion that we should take care of our mentally ill and homeless, especially the veterans, instead of casting them aside because they don’t fit the perfect picture of society some have painted in their heads. And I have another crazy notion that we should feed the hungry, even if they are making really poor life choices, because you cannot convince me that treating people like human beings will create dependency and laziness.
And as much as I may disagree with people who do NOT feel as I do, I do not tell them that what they feel is wrong. I may question their actions, but I do not tell them that the emotions they feel—welling up from deep inside—are wrong.
(Although I WILL be the first to step in and tell them if their actions are in fact illegal or unconstitutional)
Debate is NOT about all of us thinking and feeling the same thing. Debate is SUPPOSED to make both sides think and reevaluate our own point. But no one is going to be willing to examine their own beliefs if someone else says “well, you should think this”—in fact, nothing will make me stick to my guns more fervently than someone TELLING ME WHAT TO THINK/FEEL instead of defending what they think/feel with their own stories.
For some of you, you know what this is. It is what Paul had in mind when he called early Christians to witness. (not knocking on doors telling you that you are going to hell unless you read a pamphlet)
You might say, I’ve held this belief for SOME TIME.
Feelings don’t come out of nowhere. They come from experience and hopefully thought. Sometimes they are passed down to us from parents or community. When we all agree to hold certain beliefs—like say, not butchering dogs on the front lawn—it creates a sense of community. But even those beliefs have to be owned—not just taught. I don’t butcher dogs on my front lawn because a) my neighbors won’t like it, but ALSO because b) it is not an activity I could stomach because of my love for dogs. See? Public and personal views. No matter the views taught to us, there still comes a point when we must own them, that we can say, THIS is what I believe, and know it down to our gut. That doesn’t mean it’s unchangeable—it simply means that we own it.
We don’t all have to have the same feelings or emotions or thoughts to get along. My own husband and I vary greatly sometimes in some of our beliefs. I am a big proponent of non violence—am against the death penalty and war. My husband’s view on non violence is not the same. And we are both aware of how the other feels.
And yet here we are, happily married, raising a child, living under the same roof, with respect for one another. because we don’t dictate to one another how to think or feel. We use crazy phrases like “I don’t agree with that.” and then proceed to have dinner. I’d like to think that I’ve shaped some new views in him. He hasn’t been so successful in raising any bloodthirstiness in me, but we’ve only been together 11 years…
Now—allowing people to think or feel as they wish can certainly bring about uncomfortable moments. But this is part of the human experience. Those moments, as ugly as they can be, shape who we are. Perhaps someone is explaining why using the R word is hurtful. And you find that you disagree with that because you think that being able to use words is a freedom you should be allowed to express, even if they are hurtful. when you find yourself disagreeing with folks, that’s a great opportunity to examine WHY. Because it is within THAT examination that our character is formed and continues to grow. I will admit, when the accusations of being “too sensitive” about it pop up, I examine myself. Am i making a mountain out of a molehill? And I look to my core beliefs, and I realize I am NOT too sensitive, and that we are fighting a battle for a paradigm shift. And then I “witness” my own beliefs and from there can only hope you will examine your own.
Because that’s the thing. My job is not to get you to change your mind. My only job is to make you think.
So, stop telling me HOW to think, and give me reasons to THINK FOR MYSELF. I will be more apt to listen to you if I think you have some respect for my humanity, than if you treat me like a child without any life experience.