I’m walking around doing my household chores wondering if anything is about to hit the fan. See, I’ve been following a family tradition. The way mom mom put it, speaking of trying to be helpful after a death in a neighbor’s family, was, “She went around talking low and saying all the right things. I went around talking loud and saying all the wrong things.” Which is, I feel an important role. Gives others the chance to say, not just, “yes, that’s so,” and “True,” but to get a more meaningful discussion going, see what we all really think and feel about things. Still, the instigator is rarely thanked.
Though I’m a bit anxious about the comment I posted on the neighborhood website, still, I’m smiling. As much as I love true neighborliness, the give and take and share and looking out for one another of it all, now possible through the web as it used to be through physical interactions and gossip, sometimes I feel that there’s a little too much insincere niceness, and/or silence where a straighforward comment or word of critique might be apt. Not to criticize persons, not to put anyone down, but wrongheaded ideas, organizations, social trends, errors in judgment, oversight or presumption. But in doing so, even this little bit, I feel I’m sticking my neck out. Nothing on the scale of repent or perish–the issue here is of little importance. But can I learn something? I just hope that when folks disagree with what I’ve said, they let me know in a way that invites dialogue, avoids personal condemnation. But if it does, can I stay above my hurt ego, let go of my desire to appear wise and good, not to say ladylike? Can I be content with disagreement? There’s that insecurity again the desire for approval, along with the occasional foolish courage. For an opinionated person, I don’t have a very thick skin.
I don’t want to be one of those people who only makes disparaging comments, and merely nods appreciatively and says “wow” to myself when someone does or says something really great. But I admit I have a hard time putting together affirming, encouraging words of the kudos sort. I question my turns of phrase more there, agonize over the possibility that something might sound insincere or like a mere “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,” in response to another’s encouragement to me. So I listen to those gifted encouragers and try to learn a thing or two. If I put my energy, creativity, some sweat and blood, into that endeavor, I won’t have much time to criticize, and I’ll do a heck of a lot more good.