Wednesday, February 01, 2012

No More Bailouts

I used to be a lot angrier than I am now, which is probably scary to think about because I can still roll out a vicious rant when I get my sensibilities in an uproar.  The thing is, I don't feel like doing it that much anymore. 

It's not that I've mellowed with age, because I still sail on tides of moral indignation, but I now manage to keep most of the water out of the boat instead of having to bail, which essentially means I've gotten better at not letting things like politics, racism and bloggers raise my blood pressure quite so much.

How have I managed this amazing sea change?  I haven't.  Trying to manage is partly what brought me to the sinking point in the first place.  The word "manage" implies that one has some authority and that the authority is recognized.  I have finally accepted that I have no authority over politicians, self-serving people, insensitive a-holes or others who could use a good metaphorical kick in the behind.  I do have a voice, and I do have my rights, which theoretically should give me some authority at least over our elected officials, but the reality is, no such authority exists because politicians and rich people are the ones who hold and manipulate power. And I don't have that kind of power.

All this might sound depressing, as if I have given up.  Actually, it's empowering because I am finally coming to terms with the serenity prayer: accept the things I cannot change, change the things I can and have the wisdom to know the difference.  I can't change people who want to be selfish.  I can't change power-mongers.  I can't change haters.  But I can love and serve.

Perhaps the one thing that nurtures rage the most is the feeling of helplessness.  Feeling helpless makes us believe nothing we do matters, that in spite of all our efforts, we shall be overcome instead of overcoming.  Helplessness makes us feel hopeless, vulnerable and scared, and human beings generally don't react well to experiencing such emotions.  And so we humans rage against the universe, the world, the country, the state, the county, the town, the neighborhood, the household, whatever it is that represents to us our oppression. 

I'm not so angry anymore because I can do things and am doing things within the scope of my abilities.  I can write; I can help the impoverished; I can assist immigrants; I can give something positive to criminals, all because a group of someones discovered I have something to offer, and they've given me opportunity to do what I can.  I'm grateful for that, even though I suspect one or two of these someones provided the chance mostly to calm me down.  So be it.  Mission accomplished.  They've done a good thing, and I thank them.

So here's the message: when people feel empowered, they don't feel as angry, and when they don't feel as angry, they don't feel as out of control, and when they don't feel as out of control, they don't act out as destructively--they can stay afloat and defy the storm, making their way back home. 
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