I wrote a blog before about how characters are expected to change and grow. That is a fair expectation, if all characters were static they wouldn’t be interesting. Everyone changes to some degree, but how many people change significantly enough where they would be considered a “dynamic” character in a book? Honestly, I do not know the answer. Maybe it’s everyone, maybe the number is a small minority.
From my limited perspective, the anecdotal evidence in life seems to indicate that people both change and stay the same simultaneously. How is that possible? As people grow older their behaviors change, become more refined, their habits that are good and bad become deeper entrenched. It is common from what I’ve seen for people to become set in their ways and when they encounter challenges to their lifestyle they become defensive. However, they become set in their ways after adapting to the environment form their childhood and early adulthood.
True change is hard. I think we all can say we do things that we wish we would change, but despite hating certain behaviors or habits, sometimes they still rear their ugly head. From my limited point-of-view it appears that people eventually accept these habits as a part of who they are. As I said, change is hard. It takes active participation every day, and frankly not everyone has the will to follow through. There are things I am challenged with daily too. There are things that I do sometimes that I know are wrong yet do them anyway because they have become ingrained in me. This is a struggle that we all deal with, but I want to actively try to change them. Sometimes it is discouraging because it never feels like there is going to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes “discouragement” is too weak of a word, “depression” and “hopelessness” are more fitting. We feel like we can’t be better, we are a slave to our whims, passions, and habits. However, we can change. Every one of us, no matter what the issue may be. Let us all actively work hard to be better men and women everyday while accepting perfection isn’t going to be possible. We don’t have to be slaves to our habits and become set in our ways.
It is said that truth is something that cannot stay hidden. Many believe that no matter how long it takes, truth eventually comes to light and reveals itself. I may write fiction, but good fiction is driven by truths. Truths mostly about the human spirit and condition. This may sound cynical, but I wonder if indeed truth cannot stay hidden, or if our bias and private perspectives blind us.
In our postmodern era, perhaps not everyone would agree that truth is truth regardless of culture or perspective, but I’m certain most would. After all, we know there is only one star that our solar system revolves around. Someone may believe the moon is a star too, but that wouldn’t be correct, no matter what worldview that person would use to justify his belief. There are other things that get trickier, and truth begins to blur so much with worldview that they become almost indistinguishable.
If a person believes that evil spirits and not microbes are the cause of illness, even if he is shown the bacteria under a microscope, that is when a worldview interferes with truth. We know intellectually that just because an idea is widely believed, that doesn’t make it true, but we are social beings who want to be accepted. The more an idea is floated around and made prominent, the more readily accepted it becomes. Sometimes this happens for good, sometimes for bad. History is replete with examples of both. Slavery is an example of an evil in humanity, while civil rights and freedoms are examples of good.
There are things that I feel are true and have been tested and proven as such, yet in some instances certain people are unwilling to mold their worldviews to the truth. In other cases, what was once accepted as truth even “common sense” appears to be becoming lost in western culture. The inability for people to see through their worldviews is largely what is at the heart of the political strife in America. Anymore either side cannot agree on what is right even at a fundamental level.
This situation is nothing new. For the entirety of human culture, people have refused to acknowledge truth based on presuppositions. If that is the case, then how can truth always come to light? Having beliefs is normal and essential to being human, so do not misunderstand me. Nor do I feel that beliefs should always be compromised by what someone else says is truth. Merely, I find it fascinating that truth while apparent to some may not be as apparent to others. Truth in some matters might be understood by a person, but the same man or woman may be blinded by untruth in other matters. Something to think on.
As an author I feel it is my job to pay attention to cultural leanings and norms. I’ve written before about the politically charged climate we live in. People have adapted an “us verses them” mentality not just with politics but faith, lack of faith, and even mundane things like movies. Yes, movies, I’ve seen some impassioned arguments about them on the internet. With these discussions one primary accusation comes up; the other person or side is a hypocrite.
The truth is, no one likes a hypocrite and we can smell hypocrisy a million miles away in another person or group but struggle to see it in ourselves. It’s undoubtful that everyone has been a hypocrite before. I certainly have, everyone I know has been. That is an inevitable part of being human. There is a problem when hypocrisy is a pattern or even a lifestyle.
Hypocrisy can evolve to a point where a person is utterly lacking self-awareness. The problem compounds when such lack of self-awareness spreads throughout a culture like a cancer. Perhaps I’m cynical but from my perspective this seems to be where we are at in western society. We see this especially in politics. If someone from our “team” is guilty of something we look the other way and justify their actions. However, if the “other side” does the same thing we lose our minds and catastrophize the situation. The same thing is with religious verses irreligious folks. The common attitude is that people can have their faith and believe what they will, but they must keep it to themselves. However, irreligious folks, sometimes flood the internet with comments about how people who believe differently than them are delusional idiots.
There is a surface celebration of diversity in our culture, but rarely are diverse ideas met with approval. It is the norm to shout down, belittle, and attack those who think differently. Maybe we should try to understand why someone believes differently instead? That is much harder. It also goes against human nature. It requires an immense amount of empathy, but it is not impossible. I’m directing these comments as much to myself as anyone reading this. This is how we become self-aware and do not become what we hate in others.
No one wants to be judged. There are few absolute statements that are true, and that is one of them. It is our nature to want to be seen and heard as people, not viewed through the lens of our mistakes or differences. We all know mistakes and bad things are a part of the human experience. There is a difference though between judging a person in a condemning way, and noticing a destructive behavior and mentioning it to that person. As much as we don’t like to be judged, people also don’t like seeing their loved ones commit to destructive behaviors.
Ever notice that those who complain about certain behaviors in others are often guilty of it themselves? I can certainly raise my hand for that one. After all, this post is directed at me as much as anyone. The same thing applies to “Don’t judge me!” How many times have we spouted that or complained about judging someone when we are judging others in the same breath.
To compound this issue, constructive criticism of behavioral choices are often confused with judging. You think I’m posting too much political stuff on social media? Judging. You think I shouldn’t smoke as I drive with my kids in the back seat of the car? Judging. You think I should let go of the past because I’m letting bitterness poison my life? Judging. None of these examples are truly judging if the other person said it in gentleness and kindness, with your best interest at heart. To judge someone is no calling out destructive, immature, or unbecoming behavior. Judging someone is to condemn them, to see them as defined by their behavior and that behavior makes them less than you are, or at worst worthy of Hell.
Anymore, it seems that people cannot take criticism without blowing it off as “you are just judging me!” Certainly, people can be judgmental over the examples I listed above, and context must always be considered. The issue I take is that most people are all too ready to assume intent or get defensive when we can all learn something. If a loved one mentions we should maybe try a different approach, it isn’t necessarily a judgement, it might just be what we need to hear.
I wrote a blog in late 2017 about another type of rare love, and that is friendship. Good and trustworthy friends who desire to invest in you as much as you want to invest in them are hard to come by. That is especially true in a culture that is busy and sometimes teaches that once you have a family friends are a luxury. Friendship doesn’t require two people to constantly be around one another, but if years go by is the term “friend” even accurate? If during that time both people change considerably and are not happy how things turned out, then is it good to continue to call the relationship a “friendship?”
There have been more people than I would like that fall into this sort of category. Not only has there been so much time between visits we don’t know each other, but a few people do not wish for that to change. Others have been toxic for various reasons, something which I didn’t know while I was close with them, but as they say hindsight is always 20/20.
There are things I would love to say to all these people, but I am starting to realize that the most loving thing I can do is let some people go. Some folks simply do not want to take the time or effort to invest in you. Their definition of “friend” is in all actuality an acquaintance. Someone they know, had a few good times, maybe even shared some deep things, but they ultimately don’t know you and you don’t know them. I would argue that most people have very few true friends if any at all. That is scary, especially since we are social creatures.
Do not misunderstand this, I’m not saying a long period of time between seeing each other necessarily means two people are not friends. What I am saying is that if one or both parties put little to no effort into the friendship it ceases to be a friendship entirely. Our emotions and sentimentality hinder us from making that realization. We often cannot comprehend that it might be loving to let someone go. Most of us would probably agree that we do not want a person feeling in bondage to us or an idea of us out of some sort of misguided sense of friendship.