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Brene’ Brown Made Me Do It

Brene’ Brown made me do it. She made me think. And that simply will not do.

Ms. Brown told me that interpersonal connection is the reason we are all on the planet. The idea made my insides explode. She told me that I can make my connections more intimate by allowing myself to be vulnerable. That’s a very scary concept, al least for me, to let someone else really, truly see me. And Brene’ Brown knows why. She told me that the reason vulnerability is scary for me is that I feel shame.

That was the other shoe.

Shame, according to Ms. Brown, is the feeling, deep down inside, that I am wrong — not that I did wrong, that’s guilt. Yes, yes, yes my insides screamed. That’s exactly how I feel. In certain ways, as I look in the mirror, I know that I. Am. Wrong. And if you knew that I was wrong, you wouldn’t like me, let alone love me. So, I don’t allow you to really, truly see me.

But I want intimate connections with other human beings. I want to be revealed. I want you to see me, in the hopes that you will love me, all of me, every bit of me. The me that nobody sees.

So, to sum up, I want intimate interpersonal connections, and in order to deepen intimacy I must allow myself to be vulnerable, but my shame keeps me from sharing the real, true me in fear of your reaction. (In truth, my shame tells me that the bit I am shameful of inside of me makes me unloveable. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with some imagined reaction by you.) What a conundrum.

This cycle of shame causes me to suffer.

I. Am. Done. Suffering.

Thankfully, Brene’ Brown has a solution. When we share empathy with someone who feels shame, when we show them they are not alone, when we let them know that we see them and that they are ok, then shame is released. All I have to do to help someone suffering from shame is to say, “Me too.” Or, “I see you.”

Sometimes I feel shame.

Me too.

I see you.

And you are loved.

On Righteousness…

This could also be titled “Danger Will Robinson, Danger!”

I am increasingly disturbed at the polarization here in our country. As opinions get further and further apart the attacks from each side on the other become more vicious. And there is nothing I find more scary than a true believer. What is a true believer you may ask? Well, when Condoleza Rice was interviewed by Katie Couric on CBS she was the vision of a true believer — in short, she exhibited absolutely no question about the rightness of every decision both she and her superiors had made. None.

That scares the crap out of me. That scares the crap out of me because we ALL make mistakes. Even the Secretary of State. Even the President. Hell, even me. Those that do not recognize their own errors, or the errors of those they believe in are, in a word, righteous.

I was participating in a discussion on a conservative friends Facebook page, and one of her friends suggested that the problem with liberals is that they were always wrong, while conservatives were always right. Now, I’m paraphrasing here, but that really gets to the heart of it. He proclaimed, for all the world to hear, that he and those of his political persuasion were always right and those who opposed he and his were always wrong. Now, here’s the problem with that: how is that possible? First, it is simply too easy to blow gigantic holes in his argument. But secondly, even if, in some alternative bizarre universe that were true, how does it help? How does proclaiming ones righteousness help advance the discussion about the issues facing us?

Simply, it doesn’t.

That being said, I’m right, and you’re wrong. So there. Neener Neener.

Ironies From Across The World

This is an observation I had a few weeks ago, and before it becomes permanently irrelevant I will share it now.

As uprisings have been held across the world, from Egypt and Libya to Iran, and even down-home Wisconsin, various leaders have chosen to both speak and act…..

From Iran, in response to uprisings in various nations in the Middle East (though, almost certainly, not in Iran), Ahmadinijad suggested that leaders should heed the voice of the people. This was shortly followed by violent attacks on protesters in Tehran.

Secretary of State Clinton proclaimed that governments should honor their citizens right to express themselves — presumably she was speaking of both Egypt and Libya. Because….

Here in Wisconsin, Governor Walker had a pro-union website blocked in and around the State capitol.

So much for practicing what we preach.

Hello, Cruel World!

This is new for me….. My personal feeling is that too many people think that their opinions ought to be shared with the entire world. It speaks to a certain arrogance that must reside within that person. And so, here I am, expressing my inner arrogance.

The intent of this blog is to comment on the cultural and political ironies of our time. That intent begs a question: who am I? Culturally? Politically?

Well, culturally I’m just your average educated white guy. Raised in the US in both Chicago and Los Angeles, I come from European stock and was (and continue to be) firmly rooted in the American Middle Class. I am probably all the things you think of when imagining such a man — both good and bad. And yet, I am also none of these stereotypes.

Politically, I suppose I am even more complicated. I hate labels, especially political ones. I am a registered Democrat, principally because we live in a two-party system and I do not wish to dilute the vote by aligning myself with a third party. And I suppose you would describe me as leftish. But to be more accurate, let me describe my politics thus: I believe that the difference between the haves and the have-nots in this country is far too great and I believe that government has a role to play in decreasing that inequity. I also believe in democracy, that is, I think people ought to have a role in the political decisions that affect their daily lives. Lastly, I believe that peoples private lives should remain private and that government has no place legislating morality. I suppose that all of this makes me part Social Democrat and part Libertarian.

Yes, call me complicated.

It is my hope to comment on the path we walk down each day. Really, culture and politics are frequently the same, and really are the core of what and who we are as Americans. Hopefully, in commenting I can help to bridge the divide that seems to be growing and growing here. While my beliefs are firmly held, I do not for one instant think that my opinion is more correct than any other. I therefore welcome comments from across the political spectrum. However, I expect those comments to be thoughtful and diplomatically delivered. This is not the place for more heated rhetoric.

Cheers Friends. Let us all enjoy the ride!