Accept What You See [on Flawed Wednesday]

I had the privilege to watch the work of the great Kichom Hayashi. He was a master of the middle way, helping polarized groups find middle ground and shared purpose. I have more than once wondered what Kichom would say about our great national divide.

For someone whose life work has been steeped in the art of “seeing” and perspective flips, I find myself utterly incapable of seeing the perspective of those on the other side. In truth, it’s not that I am incapable, it’s that I believe I already see it and what I see is ugly to the bone.

I remember a heated conversation in 2016 with my dear friend who stands on the opposite side of the divide. Too emphatically I said, “You wouldn’t leave your daughter alone in the same room with this man! How could you vote for him?” To date, 26 women have accused the outgoing president of sexual assault or misconduct. I can’t NOT see that nor can I pretend that it isn’t relevant. Although I couldn’t articulate it at the time, my emphatic question to my friend unearthed the crux of the matter. This man has no moral compass. This man is capable of anything.

Standing on my side of the divide, the conversation that pops up again and again is a dilemma that goes something like this: “I want to find common ground but I can’t NOT see what my family, friends, neighbors have embraced.” The list of lies is extensive and pervasive. The corruption is life-long. A scam called Trump University. Bilking donors through his foundation. A businessman, famous for stiffing the working men and women who built his projects, who has been bankrupt six times, is not the biz-wizard he pretends. The emoluments violations are breathtaking. The art of his deal is the art of the swindle and I am utterly mystified at what my loved ones standing on the other side of the crevasse do not see.

And, actually, that sheds light on my fear. I am afraid that they DO see it. That they see it and either don’t care or that they embrace what this man represents. Misogyny. White supremacy. Authoritarianism. Conspiracy theories a-go-go. Fear mongering. Hatred of others. Rob. Rape. Pillage. I can’t NOT see what I know they MUST see.

I’ve provided an excuse for myself, something to make me feel better: they don’t see because they have their heads so firmly thrust into the fox hole. The story that they are being told blinds them. They are filled with info-goop that has all the truth-merit of the National Inquirer. But, in my quiet moments, I have to admit to myself that they must want to eat that bile. Who would choke down so much hatred unless, to them, it tastes good.

I rolled my eyes when my sister repeated the inanity, “There are more COVID cases because they are doing more testing!” I hung up the phone and shouted to the sky, “She can’t be that stupid!” She’s not stupid. She’s caring and loving and works hard in her community to make a better world. So what is it that she doesn’t see? Or doesn’t want to see?

On the other side of the crevasse I hear fear cries of “SOCIALISM” and, again, I roll my eyes. In a nation in which the top 1% holds and controls more of the wealth than the entire middle class, you’ll have to forgive my loud guffaw. “They can’t be that stupid!” I shout from the back deck. They either do not know what socialism is or they cannot SEE what is right in front of them. Or, they don’t care to see it. The slop that they are being fed must taste good. It must feed something inside of them. It certainly profits those who are feeding it to them.

Them. They. It is too easy to fact check what we are being fed. It only takes a moment to investigate media bias. What is it that THEY do not want to SEE?

And, most alarming to me, this is what I SEE: it is not just a difference of opinion that divides us. A difference of opinion orbits a common center of ethical understanding, of moral agreement. Kichom Hayashi could bring seemingly irreconcilable differences to a middle way because he knew the center, the moral compass, was shared.

To my friends and loved-ones, to those that have lined up behind a pathological lie, a gaping virtue-void, I can’t UNSEE it. I can’t justify or pretend there is any merit to the empty center, the grotesque morass of what you embrace. I would never leave my daughter alone in a room with a rapist. I wonder why you would.

read Kerri’s blog post about UNSEEING IT

Slow Down And See [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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There is a theme emerging in my posts this week. Substance vs. the appearance of substance. The flattening of importance.

During an exceptionally stressful and contentious period this summer, we streamed the entire run of Parenthood. Six seasons of escapism!  “Let’s go to  California,” we’d say, all too ready for a leap out of reality. And then, in a moment of horror, the episodes of Parenthood ran out. Our escape hatch closed with a bang. In desperation we surfed and landed in Schitt’s Creek. It was a series a bit too relevant to our circumstance and we howled when one of the characters, in the face of kindness, said that she’d been raised to see that “kindness is a sign of weakness.”

“That’s our problem,” Kerri said, “we see kindness as a virtue.” She was raised to be kind.

That night we had a long discussion about kindness and its general absence in public discourse.

I’ve been thinking much about our conversation since we found ourselves meditating on kindness in Schitt’s Creek. This is my observation: mean is easy. It is fast. Like all forms of reactivity and thoughtlessness, meanness and contention are elementary.

We are surrounded by friends who are kind.  They are kind because they cultivate kindness, thoughts of others, as essential to their character. That’s why we are attracted to them. We are the recipients of unbearable gifts of kindness through our friends. They break us open. They make us bigger.

Kindness is a virtue. It is also a strength. And, it takes time. Kindness is like poetry. It takes development and some higher order thinking.

Lions eat zebras for food. People hurt people for a lesser reason.

In a world obsessed with speed, it is all too easy to run past substance in pursuit of the superficial. Slowing down, taking some time to see, exposes all manner of beauty.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about KINDNESS

 

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Let The Mask Slip [on Flawed Cartoon Wednesday]

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There is the public face and the private face. There is what you want to say and what you actually say.

Parents teach their children to be polite, courteous. And, they also stress the virtues of truth and honesty. Often, those two lessons collide. In that collision is rich ground for a funny.

On this Flawed Cartoon Wednesday, a polite nod to all of us who’ve been busted telling a truth that wasn’t supposed to be heard!

 

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www.kerrianddavid.com

 

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blackbird is a goob ©️ 2016/18 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Be A Hypocrite

742. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Apparently, I am a hypocrite. I do not always practice what I preach. Most days I believe that I am my brother’s keeper. Yet some days I walk passed someone in need; I turn my head and pretend not to see them, saying to myself, “This is not mine to do.”

I believe in anchoring my life in love and yet sometimes I enshroud myself in a wet blanket of fear. I say things I do not mean. I judge and run back to my safe place.

I believe in the power of possibility and yet there are days that I fill my cup to overflowing with “I can’t.” I invest with gusto in my disbelief and hide my gifts beneath a mound of doubt.

I preach the virtues of going slow. I believe in being present and yet at times I find myself racing to get somewhere. I tailgate other drivers wanting to “get there.”

I believe in the power of language and yet I have said hurtful things and am often unaware of what I am actually saying.

I believe intuition trumps intellect every time and yet I regularly justify and reason myself out of following my gut instinct. I spend an inordinate amount of time in my head (I call it my office) and talk on and on about being more in my body or in nature. Empty words.

I believe in loyalty and trust and yet at crucial moments in my life have chosen self-preservation; I did not throw myself under the bus to save the other.

I believe in self-love yet have given the farm away more times than I can count. I hurt my self regularly with my unwarranted self-judgments and unrealistic expectations. I hold myself to standards that I would never expect from others.

There are gaps everywhere. I am flawed, flawed, flawed. Accuse me of almost any hypocrisy and I will look you in the eye and admit my imperfection. I am human and by definition that means I am messy and riddled with contradictions. Hold me to a standard of perfection and I will utterly disappoint you. Ask me why I say one thing and do another and I will get angry and defend my belief even as I know that I have betrayed it with service to yet another belief.

What I do not believe is that the world is black and white. I do not believe in absolutes. For me, truth is found in the paradox. Life is lived in the contradictions. I grant my life the same principles that make color vibrant: there’s nothing like a touch of red to make the greens pop. If you really want to see the orange, surround it with something blue. As Quinn once told me, all religious traditions have one thing in common: they instruct us to find the middle way, seek the path between the pair of opposites. It is impossible to find the middle way by eliminating the contradictions; one must test the boundaries to know where they are. As Dan Pink writes, “Clarity depends on contrast.” Given my massive contradictions, I expect someday to be utterly clear for at least one brief moment. In case you expect my clarity to last be forewarned that I will most certainly follow my moment of clarity with wholehearted dedication to some new spectacular confusion.