For Shame
Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

For Shame


Making amends or just making it worse?

I mentioned on social media last week—if you’re not following and would like to click here for Facebook, or here for Instagram—anyway, I mentioned I've been thinking a lot lately of past friendships and the possibility of mending affairs with a couple we shared our lives and the lives of our children with across the many decades we lived in North Carolina. 

Maybe it’s the 5,000 miles and nostalgia talking, or because we are now full into another divisive—and possibly relationship ending—election season in the US, even though no one is quite over the last one, or the one before that. Whatever the reason, this lost friendship has been weighing on my mind because these were not just your ordinary, run-of-the-mill acquaintances, neighbors, or co-workers (though we did work with one of them for a short time), but the kind of friends we travelled long distance every year to visit, the kind our kids called Aunt and Uncle, the kind with whom you share a lot of history and who open their hearts in a way that no matter what happens, they make you feel, as they say, that their home was the kind of place where, if you needed them, they had to take you in. 

The reason we drifted apart—no not drifted. Like so many others our friendship ended in a dramatic, fiery crash, similar to what happened to a lot of friendships and families in the weeks, months and years after the 2016 election. What fault lines didn’t break there, probably broke with COVID restrictions. Anyway, I get it, people are different, with different experiences and a different understandings of the way the world is supposed to work and so the stories we’re told and are telling others are not the same, despite feeling as if they are rooted in honest perception. Not everything can be true and that’s the kind of atmosphere that politics and pandemics are great at exposing.

But, as I said, these weren’t just any people. I miss them and miss our friendship. So, I’ve recently been considering reaching out. They are both a few years older than us and it would be nice to know how they’re getting along. Do they feel the same about us?

Ironically on the same day I tested the waters by reaching out to wish a happy birthday to their oldest son, a memory from six years ago popped up on Facebook and reminded me of the moment our friendship ended. All the emotion it encapsulated then came flooding back. 

Now, I’ve not done any research on the benefits of setting emotion (i.e. steamrolling anger) aside when it comes to tending relationships with loved ones—but I’m sure if I had it would behoove me to stop letting it get in the way. But then I think of one of my favorite poems—one I’ve shared here many times, by David Whyte:

Give up all the other worlds except the one to which you belong….Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet confinement of your aloneness to learn anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you.

So, I would love to say I am a big enough person to not let this tiny tear in the years of our friendship influence my decisions forever but unfortunately I cannot and for now that is all the reason I need to say: Not yet.

**I will say since writing this piece I've started reading Build The Life You Want by Arthur C. Brooks and Oprah Winfrey and while the book covers a lot of the challenges of doing just that through emotional self-management, the chapter on forgiveness specifically might finally bring some closure to this story. We'll see.

(Here’s the original post from January 22, 2017)

(I am) Incredibly proud of these women! Regardless of where you stand on the issues or believe they were wrong in demonstrating, I have nothing in my heart for the person who says of their effort, Shame on you.

Shame on you, I say back. You, who believe that the rights of a citizen do not extend beyond election day. You, who don't question the freedom of people, unless those people you despise. You, who seem to be, in the words of Noam Chomsky, searching for a hero instead of good ideas. Democracy, if it works at all, only prospers when people work together to push back against the tyranny that denies inclusion and equality.

For decades and longer, I fear, our country has been headed down a dangerous, dark road, where the few decide the fate of the many; where fear and manipulation rule; where ignorance is the goal, not freedom; where elections serve only the powerful and create an illusion of fairness. In such a world, silence is not the answer. The answer is taking to the streets. The answer is holding our state accountable and exposing it for its lies and propaganda. The answer is thrusting our fists in the air and demanding that enough is enough. And yes, sometimes, it is shouting at the top of our lungs: We are here, We are here, We are here!

If not us, then who? For a fair and resilient civilization to work, it is never the time to simply accept things as they are. There is always someone who wants more, who wants to do less, who thinks only of their own self-serving needs. It is to them we must cry foul. It is to them I say, Shame on you.

Power to the People.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading.

Alla prossima!

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