Thursday, October 22, 2009

Somehow, during the night I came to the realization that much of my cynicism and maybe some of my anger is an emulation of my father. Is that even possible?

When I encounter a person that has obviously has money, whether they are driving a Mercedes or a Lexus, wearing beautiful clothing, what ever the outward appearance is, my reaction, is: “Look at them how rich they are, they are snobs, they are arrogant, they feel they are entitled….” Another example might be: “What do you expect? The politicians in Washington all have money and good health insurance, so they don’t care about the rest of us.” “The system is corrupt, so just forget it.” Observations that have no basis in reality, except in my own head. There is no way that I could know any of those things.

Now that seems like an obvious discovery and it is very superficial to be sure. I think, however, that it goes far deeper and its roots are in my father’s attitudes towards life. I aligned with my father growing up. Not because he was such a great guy or that he was my closest confidant, but because he wasn’t my mother. My mother was indifferent towards me. Her focus was on my brother and not on me My mother was down right cruel to me at times, so I aligned with my father.

In an attempt to win his favor, which in the end I was never going to do, I adopted an attitude of cynicism. Cynicism is a learned behavior. He is the king of cynicism. I can still hear his voice when I would tell him of an aspiration or a desire, he would almost growl, “Dream on.” It was ugly and it always felt like a slap in the face. It killed many of my dreams for many years.

Now this is not an attempt to bash my parents, I have done enough of that on my own, but rather, I am attempting to understand a pattern of behavior that I have carried with me for most of my adult life.

When I was younger, I would tell my parents of an injustice that I saw and I would want to right it, or perhaps, I would tell them I wanted them to right it. It could have been a political injustice or a personal injustice, whatever it was, their response was that I shouldn’t rock the boat, women shouldn’t act like that, or that I am always complaining, do you really think it is going to change anything? The result was that instead of being open and allowing my compassion to lead, I developed an attitude of cynicism and the accompanying emotion with cynicism is anger. I immobilized myself with cynicism and anger. I’m not sure that conveys deeply enough what I am trying to say.

My cynicism was an roadblock to social activism. Instead of acting on my instinctual compassion, my cynicism took over and cut off the impulse to help, to be of service. I have come to believe that compassion and the desire to help is our basic natural, we are imbued from birth a desire to be of service, and in my case, cynicism lopped it off at the root. Our nature is to be open and loving with all, but as a defense, we cut ourselves off from those around us. The walls go up and compassion is locked in a vault.

Take the key and open the gate. Allow your natural instincts to flow forth. There is no one that can call you back, there is no one leaning over your shoulder telling you that it is wrong to speak up. I am saying to you now; dream on. Yes, dream on, open the doors, the windows, and dream on!

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