Friday, September 23, 2011

Beware the "ism"

Attention all: beware of feminism and chauvinism.  (Warning: just because I place one before the other does not mean that it is the most important.)

Feminism took a part in destroying my marriage.  And so I can't help but feel some animosity towards it.  I have debated as to whether post something regarding feminism and chauvinism on my blog, and that is because of not only my intense feelings on the subject matter, but the intense feelings of others.  I know that on the flip side there are women who have suffered from chauvinism.  And I feel for them.  No one should be treated as though one sex is greater than the other, but we have come to a time in the church were unfortunately there exists some of both.  I hope that my thoughts can be heard because too often men are overlooked in situations of abuse and their struggles (perhaps) with feminism that is directed at them or directly includes them.  I know I have been.

Men are often warned about this chauvinistic attitude.  Too often to people quote D&C 121.  I'm not going to quote it here.  But please ladies, men (especially myself) have been beaten over the heads far to often by the women with this.  Trust me when I saw that the priesthood brethren talk to us more than enough on the matter in conference talks and in priesthood meetings on Sundays.  And too often to I also hear the irrational thought behind why men have the priesthood.  I have heard it said on multiple occasions that it is because the men couldn't have children (which was the higher calling after all).  Please, spare me.  Read the Family Proclamation and then tell me what you really think.  (Can you sense the slight sense of sarcasm here?)  Men are the ones looked over (ignored even) by bishops when they claim their wives are abusing them because if the woman were in the same position the bishop is required to report the matter.  He's not required to do anything if it is the man in the situation.  And men are required to have at least one assistant, for example, in a  primary class while a woman can teach alone (even if the group were little boys).  Why is this?  Hmm . . .

Women on the other hand are often prodded with the whole "well, Eve was the first to partake of the fruit and disobey . . ." argument.  At least in my experience they have been.  Just because of that, men sometimes think that they must always be right.  It is true that men and women are distinctly different in how they feel and think (ie. men are more rational/logical while women are more thoughtful/emotional).  Women may often feel left out for many reasons, maybe it is because of the priesthood, maybe they feel like God has chosen sides (which isn't the case at all).  Maybe women feel left out when the men are called to missions as more of a requirement and they are not.  Regardless, each person, whether they be man or woman should feel empowered by their God-granted gender.

My experiences with feminism have been quite bad.  While I won't go into it, lets just say that in my short and brief marriage I had to learn that the woman was always right. I had to do what she wanted and everything was always about her.  She had to always come first (even though I put her first because I loved her) and anything to the contrary was outrageous.  I was belittled and emotionally abused.  So it is hard for me to not speak out on the matter of feminism.

Feminism on the other hand is growing from all the hardships that women have had to put up with in the past.  Everything from working conditions to voting rights, women have had to fight for their rights while the men took it for granted.  And people will often say that history was written by men, hence "his-story".  I don't believe all of that because behind each good man you can usually find a good woman (and visa-versa).  Look at the prophets' wives for example.  Great women to uphold and sustain great men.  Ladies, recognize this, don't take it so hard.  We men need you just as you need us.  Just because there used to be more men in the army or more men in the workforce doesn't mean you have to prove yourselves.  In my opinion, by being who you are, you've proved it many times over.

So let me leave with a warning.  Men and women, treat each other with the respect they deserve.  Many say "respect is earned."  But by being a human being, a child of God, does that not grant us at least some respect from the start?  Men, recognize women for their beauty and love.  Women, recognize men for their strength and drive.  Lets not try taking what is God-granted in a way unbecoming of a Christian in order to use it against them.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Parables and a Caution

There are two parables that I really connect with, but these two parables are parables that are probably more often seen from only one point of view.  I happen to see them from a completely different view.  I'm not saying that my view is unique, just different from the popular.  

The first parable is the parable of the prodigal son.  Most know the parable, the two sons who are promised an inheritance.  One takes it and spends it lavishly on things of the world.  He enjoys what he considers joys of the world to then discover that he has nothing.  He finally returns home, poor, discouraged, and broken.  His father accepts him in his household and prepares a great feast to welcome him home.  His other son, the one who has stayed and done his part as a member of the household is disturbed.  Here is a man who feels it unjust that his brother get a welcome-party and yet he has never been celebrated over.  His father explains that his brother has nothing and that he has returned to him.  His father also explains that he must not worry because he still has his inheritance (eternal reward).  

The second is that parable of the talents.  The Lord gives one man five, one man two, and one man one.  The men with five and two go and make double what they had.  The man with one is afraid and he buries his.  When the Lord asks to see what they had reaped, the two men with double show the Lord and he blesses them.  But to the man who hid his is chastised and scolded for not using what was given him.

I connect with the prodigal son, but not the one who came back.  I connect with the man who stayed behind and did everything.  While some may see this as being considerably prideful, they are wrong.  I know that I am a good man.  And I know that I could be the other son.  But I see myself as he who always tries to do what's right and who never tries to leave the side of the Lord.  And yet, I see through this man's eyes.  I see others who leave, sin, indulge, and return to a great feast.  Do I have my reward?  Do I really still have my inheritance?

I connect with the third man in the parable of the talents.  I feel at times like I have only been given one or very few talents.  I look out and compare myself (which may or may not be okay or good to do) and I see so many others that have been given so much and yet I feel like I have nothing.  I have no crazy or outrageously good talents to speak of.  And that may have to do with my struggles with self-image (even self-confidence and self-esteem).  But I feel for the man who had nothing and who when given a talent buried it to keep it safe.  If you were given only one of something and didn't want to loose it, would you risk it all only to have it taken away and to have nothing again?  To those who have nothing, anything must be protected to not loose it.  I understand that this may not be the way it should be interpreted, but it is how I see it through my sorrowful eyes.

And at last, with both of these parables and other teachings of the church I give a caution.  This caution is for all those LDS or Christian.  Please do not tell someone that they will be blessed for their trials and obedience if not now, then in the life to come. Please don't make these humbled, depressed, and sad individuals feel like they have no hope in this life.  Regardless of what may or may not be true, please do not make them feel like they cannot receive any blessings now and that they must wait until they die to "receive their reward," or to "receive their inheritance."  I have suffered greatly with this and it only leads to hopelessness and feelings that lean towards suicide (even though suicide is a topic with such a taboo).  I pray that at least some may receive at least a little of their inheritance and reward now, and in this life on this earth.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Can't Please Em' All

In my perfecionnistic naivety I so often try to assume that I will please them all.  And by all I mean absolutely anyone and everyone that will ever cross my path.  And it's too bad that that isn't true.  I think most often people want to impress others and always show their best.  But there is always an outlier.  There is always someone who won't like you no matter what you do.  There is always someone better (but that's a totally different topic in and of itself).  

I guess that I could say that my biggest strength and weakness at times has been in my desire to be a true peacemaker.  There are often times that I will serve or take the blame just to keep the peace.  But too often does this get overlooked and I am left with the pain.  There is no way that I can be the savior for others.  There is only one Savior, and he was left with the pain for all of us.  But there still is value in being a peacemaker.  Its just finding the right balance that takes time.  After all, Christ is the true peacemaker.  He was and is the Savior and could he even please everyone?  Unfortunately not.

So it all seems to really come down to just letting things go.  Perfectionism is something that I have always dealt with and will probably continue to deal with.  But maybe there is some hope just admitting that I have it!  If I couldn't admit it, then there would be an epic problem!

There is some comfort in knowing that all deeds will be repaid.  God only knows when (literally).  There's no problem in putting our best foot forward and doing what we know is right.  (Even though this may be in the worst of circumstances.)  So, will I try to please everyone and anyone?  Probably, but only as it doesn't conflict or mar my moral obligations to be a good Christian and a decent gentleman.

I remember a quote and I think it was by Gordon B. Hinckley (someone correct me please if I'm wrong, and give the citation if one exists!) where he was talking to someone who was concerned by a defaming newspaper article.  His answer was, "Well, half the people that could buy a newspaper won't.  Half of the people that buy the newspaper won't ever even see the article.  Half of those that see the article won't even read it.  Half of those that read it won't even care. The half that read it and care probably won't do anything.  So by the time you get to the half that do care and will do something about it, its such a small group of people, that they don't even matter so there's no need to fret and worry."  He's saying exactly that.  Don't let your actions (perfectionism, wanting to please, etc.) be determined by others and don't worry.  Well said if I do say so myself.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In Remembrance

Let us all remember those you perished this day those many years ago.  Let us remember all those affected, and it affected many not directly involved.  Many who just watched in horror were astounded by the pure violence and hatred that could exist in this world.  In contrast we must not be the same.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Victim or Survivor? Both.

Too often have people said that one is either a victim or a survivor of their situations.  What they really want to point out is that the person's point of view is just as important as what happens to them.  Or in other words, they make what they want to out of the situation.  While I may agree wholeheartedly with this assumption, I cannot completely agree that a person must be one or the other.  Many victims of situations survive.  But do they have to choose only one?  In my opinion, not necessarily.     

Victims are those that are the target of any attack whether that be on purpose or not and whether the attack is physical, emotional, etc. it matters not.  No one really chooses to be a victim although they may feel they do and the attackers or abusers may often convince them that they do.  Some people due to their mental and emotional state may put themselves in situations that makes them more vulnerable to attacks.  But that doesn't mean that they try to play hero and get hurt.    It just means that they were targeted for one reason or another.  And it is of my opinion that not all victims are targeted on purpose or for a reason.  I do think that many people do mean well, they just never take the time to think through what they are doing, saying, etc.  And many things are accidents, things that I cannot nor will I attribute to anyone (not even God in most cases).  I have a few friends (girls in these cases) that were targets of molestation and even rape.  They were victims.  They were taken advantage of.  They for whatever reason (not for sin, retribution from God, punishment, etc.) targeted for the trials they have had to go through.  I don't pretend to understand all of the pain, but I can sympathize.  I feel for them.  I have been a victim in my own ways.  I have been sorely mistreated by the person I loved the most.  I didn't seek it out nor want it.  And just because my point of view is changed, I was still a victim.  It still happened.

Survivors are those that keep on living.  And this living isn't the kind of normal living that we think about.  It really is a living hell.  That's the best way to describe it really.  Just imagine, if you don't already go through it or haven't tried thinking about it, getting up every morning to have to live your life when in reality you don't want to live it.  I'm not talking about suicide although that can be a terrible option that some choose.  But I mean that the desire to be someone else is really strong.  To be anyone else.  Each second is a challenge.  And then to go to bed at night fearing for the following day.  Trying to forget it all and they go numb to everything.  They want to lash out or shrink away into a corner, huddled in the fetal position while the world keeps on spinning.  Welcome to the heartless and cruel world.  These are the survivors.  Most don't take time to understand or help.  Most, to their credit actually, don't even know how.  We often hear about "survivors" in some book or some movie or something and they had a kind of "wow! flash-bang!" recovery or comeback that they use to become famous, popular, or maybe even just to help others.  Well, they may be a survivor, but true survivors do what the word implies, survive.  Surviving isn't really living.  It's just getting by.

So to all those who are both victims and survivors.  I hear you.  I'm there.  And I'm both.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dreams: Dreamt and Pondered

Over the past few weeks my dreams could not have been more vivid.  I find myself dreaming every night and remembering most of them (which is actually quite rare to always be able to remember your dreams according to some research I've heard).  But these dreams aren't the happy-go-lucky dreams that we all wish we had.  And they definitely aren't the ones that I can control.  I find myself often in awkward and strange places with no where to go.  Or I find myself not being listened to and ignored (which is by far one of my worst fears).  But overall, what is seen is not nearly as astounding as what I feel, and when I say astounding it's not really in a good way.  Extreme feelings on every end of any scale are present: fear, shame, guilt, depression, worry, anger, desire (mostly sexual to be honest), etc.  Mostly negative feelings that's for sure.  And these feelings wouldn't bother me so much if it wasn't for the fact that it carries over into my day and affects how I act and feel when I'm awake.  It certainly feels like an uphill battle to me.  To have to deal with the depression and day to day pain, that I am constantly in, and then have to add poor sleep because of terrible dreams.  Going through my own personal hell is the only way to put it, and that's probably putting it more lightly than it is.

I often wonder if a person could think themselves to death.  Not in the literal sense although that would be a new record, but in general, do we often think and analyze too much?  Perhaps.  Daydreams are a thing that I often ponder, but they are things that I need to be careful about.  I try to mull my way around the day not thinking at times so that I don't get too anxious or depressed.  But as life is, we must always come back and deal with or cope with what is on our minds and hearts.  I find this to be very unfortunate.  I envy the ignorant.  I envy the genius or dull.  I find that I'm just intelligent to know that I'm not so intelligent, and so the bitter downward-spiral begins and it goes on forever . . .  How terrible is it to know that in my condition with the human condition so imperfect to be destined to a life of imperfection with an imperfect view of the world telling us to be perfect.  Such are my quandaries as of late and they drive me crazy!  So to think or not to think?  Hmm . . . its a question that I have yet to answer nor do I ever think I will be able to answer.  I wish so badly for the pain to go away and for my dreams to finally be made real.

" . . . But I being poor have only my dreams,
I have spread my dreams beneath your feet, 
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

(Excerpt from "He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven" by William Butler Yeats)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Methods of Motivation

By far one of the hardest things for me to get over is my extreme lack of motivation.  Motivation is the real driving factor that allows us to be successful or for that matter, even get up in the morning.  I find that I can get up in the morning, but that oftentimes, that's all I can do.  Everything that I once had interest in is gone.  And it can be the strangest sensation.  I love to read for example, and even with the book that I want to read, I just can't bring myself to read it.  It could be a book that I've been looking forward to read for sometime and yet I just can't bring myself to read it.  And this is a book that basically stares me in the face everyday as it sits on a shelf in my room.  There are those that suffer to the point that they can't even get up in the mornings.  I feel for those that are like me and worse than me because I understand.  There are those that drown themselves in never-ending bottles or find themselves completely immersed in video games so that they can live a life seemingly far better than their own.  I don't agree with it and I may not even condone it, but that doesn't mean that I don't understand.  I do understand, and I understand completely.

It is at this time that I try my hardest to really find joy in the littlest of things.  I have a really hard time planning for the future since I don't know what my future might even hold.  I can't see a week ahead, let alone a day ahead.  And I really do often live from hour to hour and minute to minute.

Recently one of these little things I found was that of growing a garden and cultivating my sunflowers.  Something about physical work and actually being able to see the fruits of my labor was inspiring.  And it was one of the only inspiring things that had happened to me for some time.  Every once in a while I will get a sense of peace and inspiration that what I am doing is good.  This happened like an epiphany while laboring outside.  And I can even find symbolism in the sunflower.  They are such a beautiful and happy flower.  They grow tall and they follow the sun during the day by rotating their flowers and leaves to absorb all of the light and warmth that they can.  They can't move more than that since they are deeply rooted in their stationary position, but they can at least face in the direction of the sun.  They face in the direction of their salvation, life-giving force, and hope.  And the mere fact that I can cultivate these and other beautiful plants, even those to be eaten from a garden, gave me a sliver of motivation.  I finally found something I enjoyed again.

Take pride in the small things when they seem insignificant.  Do anything healthy to find hope or motivation when there seems like there is none or there is none.  To start from zero is difficult especially when one thought one had infinity.  But to someone who finds joy in something small finds joy which is significant and beautiful to behold.  This is one method of motivation to be pondered.