01 May 2008

Be The Change

I've struggled a lot lately with moho culture and gay culture in general. There's a whole lot about it which really disgusts me. I've wanted to vent in all kinds of ways on my blog. I've wanted to "expose" the more negative aspects which probably get glossed over by many people in their efforts to be tolerant and understanding or completely unnoticed by people whose paradigms simply don't allow them to see it.

But almost every time I've started writing about these behaviors and attitudes I see so prevalent around me, my writing is stayed by an inexplicable sense of restraint, and I've just saved a draft, taken the post in a slightly different direction, or canceled writing it altogether.

Just last night, I was feeling particularly disgusted by it all and a bit bitter. I was feeling embarrassed I'd allowed myself to become as connected as I am to such an ill subculture. I wanted to enumerate a list of prevalent problems I see in the culture but maybe follow it up with some token virtues I see in it as well. Of course, I could make other lists about Mormon culture, Utah culture, American culture, indie culture, small town culture, academia's culture, or any other culture close enough to home to have been disgusted or embarrassed by it at some time or another. Every culture has its virtues and ills.

But tonight, as I was driving home from work, I remembered an attitude I've often forgotten lately. I found a lot of peace in this practice in the past: when I see evils or flaws or ills around me, rather than complaining about them or proclaiming them and expounding on their wrongness, I can simply try to be the opposite, myself. With that attitude, they cease to be embittering stains everywhere I look and instead become motivators to improving myself and perhaps others around me who feel motivated by any positive changes they may notice in me. By freeing up the time I would otherwise spend declaring the ills around me, I am more able to focus on finding their antitheses in the world around me and drawing those out to emulate them and appreciate them. If the antitheses aren't to be found in my circles, then I have the opportunity to explore the possibilities myself, forging new paths, which is exciting and motivating. For the first time, I associated this attitude with the famous quote, "Be the change you wish to see in the world," and I think that's the essence of it.

A caveat: I won't pretend the problems don't exist. I'll resist being lulled into unhealthy circles and relationships. In seeking to focus on the positives in people, it's foolish to completley ignore the pitfalls of investing in unhealthy or entirely frivolous relationships. In attempting to see the best in others, I think it quite foolish to embrace all relationships out of a desire to be "loving" or, as I believe is more often the case, a need to feel "loved".

Nevertheless, rather than list the problems which are currently bothering me most, I will strive to be more considerate, to show more sensitivity to others' needs, to look for what's beyond outward appearances, to truly love beyond basic affection, to maintain principles more consistently, to be more constructive in my speech, to generally speak of people as if they were in the room, to be more honest, up-front, and sincere, to make my life more integral, to forgive more completely, to offer service more freely, to make my motivations more selfless, to dedicate my time to more meaningful learning and pursuits, to take more ownership of my decisions.

I want to spend less energy calling out the wrongs and stupidity of others and more energy magnifying the principles and habits that will vanquish those same wrongs from myself. The best way to prove I really consider them wrong is to strive to eliminate them from my own life or, more on par with the revised attitude, build the virtues which replace them. I'm inclined to think it's just a happier, better way to live.

8 comments:

J G-W said...

Amen.

Chedner said...

Such are my intentions as well... I sure wish I were better in practice, though.

One of So Many said...

Still...I'd love to know what you see as the flaws.

The Impossible K said...

What's acamedian culture?

Original Mohomie said...

K, I suppose I most think of gatherings of university professors when I think of academia. It counts for grad students, too. It's a pretty unique type of culture, I think.

The Impossible K said...

Ok, clearly the subtlety didn't work... sigh... you spelled academia wrong in the third paragraph. There. I said it.
And I know what academia is. It's one of my favorite cultures :)

Original Mohomie said...

Ha, another confirmed reason to use Firefox with spell-checking. I can always count on you to...well, not save me from the embarrassment of unnoticed errors, because you notify me publicly, but...to not leave them unnoticed.

I know you know what academia is, I just thought you were looking for clarification on what I meant by that.

I may be a homo, but I'm a guy. You seem to keep forgetting this. Subtlety works better on me than the average Joe, but maybe not as well as the average...Jane?

A CROW'S VIEW said...

I like what you said. I don't think you should ever apologize for seeing things that need to be changed. Its how thing happen. People who just complain do nothing, people who complain then step forward work miracles. Don't stop. And yes be that change. To be honest I think the culture or more aptly blaming the culture is just allowing us to let ourselves off easy. We make up the culture and we set the norms.