Cheryl Pappas
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Archive for October, 2013

The Educated Uneducated: Is the World Too Much With Us?

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

It’s a schitzy time to be an American.

Since 9/11, more and more we have turned away from our individual lives and instead have taken on, in an utterly virtual way, the woes of the world.

With daily visual world news loops of hate and blood, the media has us by the neck, and we can’t let go.

I don’t know about you, but I’m betting those who join me in being a boomer did not have much of an education about the world and the news exterior to America as we grew up.

With the exception of my 5th grade teacher who was obsessed with both Indonesia’s President Sukarno and the historic Suez Canal Crisis, I don’t remember thinking about, or being asked to imagine, the world outside of the United States.

The exception was Vietnam, but my education barely touched the war or that area of the world.

My teachers were specialists. My drama teacher one of the founders of the La Jolla Playhouse; my English teacher a Shakespearean actor.

And on it went, entertainingly.

The academic ambiance was perfect for imagining poetically the infinite possibilities of life and art.

It was as if the bigger world was optional; an elective course of interest and study, for those who found it so.

I’m not saying that this was a good thing, simply that it was a fact and an ambivalent blessing.

Disimilarly, anyone and everyone today who watches the news is in the grip of a mandatory advanced world affairs education.

How are we doing with this?

On the one hand, naturally it can be said that the insularity of the latter midcentury was an unreal, even narcissistic bubble of innocence for a majority of middle and upper class Americans, as for the average American teenager.

Summer days were endless, as were the joyous, creative, nutritionally brilliant bubbles of music pouring out of the transistor radio as my friends and I lay on the warm La Jolla sand.

It seemed that we were all dreaming, as the Mamas and the Papas sang in “California Dreaming”. Dreaming was the main thing to do.

Today, dreaming is a thing of the past, as the media deluges us with footage of daily violence in faraway places, as well as in our own backyards.

This is hard core education, not the stuff of dreams.

Our necks have all been twisted in the direction of Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East.

It is important that we know the world.

September 11 was the wake-up smack in the face for Americans; the force of the attack forcing our mental direction to other lands, to matters of violence and hate, to killing and war.

Of course, we cannot turn back the clock to September 10, 2001.

Further, it is right that we learn not only about the world, but also about the true America, far from the sanitized American island of luxury and supposed noble intents for the rest of the world.

Ignorance and the habits of unconcern for the world are not options for the thinking person, although there are plenty of celebrity media headlines to contain and distract the others.

Still, I wonder if we have gone too far; if the distraction of helpless compassion for brutality across the globe has carried us away from our personal lives and feelings.

Is the world too much with us?

The World is Too Much With Us

by William Wordsworth

The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;

The winds that will be howling at all hours,

And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,

For this, for everything, we are out of tune;

It moves us not.–Great God! I’d rather be

A pagan suckled in a creed outworn;

So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,

Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;

Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

– See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15878#sthash.SNnk126S.dpuf

Potholes On The Moral High Road: How to Respond to Bullies

Friday, October 18th, 2013

In this age where cyber, mental, and emotional bullying are increasingly popular, how do we respond to all that, rather than automatically following the old social rule of taking the righteous “high road” of silence, as well as taking the “eye for an eye” animal attack response out of the equation

Some of the hard core moral rules for living in our society need updating, such as not speaking up for ourselves and not telling the truth about others when they are abusive bullies.

We need to update ourselves as adults on how to respond to a bully, and we also need to update how we educate children on this matter.

Our social expectations, and the world itself, have so radically changed that the shelf life of wisdom passed down from other eras is expired; many former social rules are now irrelevant and just wrong.

Many factors come into play as to why this is true.

The primary change in our social culture is seen in the level of unquestioned, normalized public expressions of hate and rage.

The entitlement to act out extreme, outrageous anti-social rudeness in public and private, signals a startling shift in society.

So, it is no longer appropriate to stand back and remain “refined” in the old way (even the word “refined” is practically out of circulation). The Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, 1962, definition: “free from vulgarity or coarseness”.

How is this possible today? We are saturated in vulgarity and coarseness; the prime trick is to maintain a rigid personal (emotional) hygiene.

It is no longer sustainable, or superior a stance, to keep hurts and attacks under cover.

What, then, is the healthy response to abuse?

The old adage, “If you have nothing nice to say about someone, don’t say anything”, used to be as basic as bread.

On the other hand, in the words of Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, “If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me”.

There is an old idea of propriety resulting in a response of stoic silence to abuse. It is the equivalent of keeping a dangerous secret.

Dangerous for the keepers of the secret, and dangerous for society on the whole.

No matter how you slice it, taking “the high road” of not speaking about emotional abuse is bad medicine.

Remaining silent can be motivated by a slew of wrong-headed beliefs and feelings. It may be the feeling of embarrassment or self-blame about being bullied, or the discomfort and fear in nailing a bully, or even be in play via an internalized app of instant “forgiveness”.

Whatever this silence in the face of abuse is about, it is getting us into psychological trouble—with ourselves.

A heart-breaking example, although not in the same category, are the studies of children who were sexually abused and did not speak to anyone about it.

Self-loathing, even suicide, is a common tragic consequence for that silence.

The silent stance in response to being bullied amounts to giving the bully a free pass to carry on abuse. Believe it or not, one of the reasons people keep the bully’s abuse a secret is that they: a) are conditioned to feel ashamed to be treated that way, and b)feel it is wrong to say something negative about other people!

As with everything in life, each event must be examined case by case for clarity of guidance, but the point is, passivity is not uniformly a good thing.

When confronted by an abusive bully, whose weapons are emotional and not physical, I say, call them out, whenever you find them.

I have spent a huge chunk of my life embracing the mistaken brainwashed teaching of turning the other cheek, sometimes only to be smacked in the head by a mentally ill bully’s future campaign against my reputation.

The truth is that I have been addicted to finding people likeable and loveable.

Therefore, I have at times overlooked to an extreme, in my early personal life, that there was mental illness in people who reached out to me for understanding, and who one day would choose to make me the target!

Pathological liars and bullies deal in dirt.

Their lies, though toxic, are psychotic casseroles made from scratch, which cannot ultimately bake in the constancy of what is obviously true.

This means that if what is being said has no basis in truth about who you are and how you conduct your life, your own everyday being or presence disinfects these lies.

The problem of reputation-smearing is that there are people who are not in close enough proximity to personally witness the truth about the smeared party, as on the internet, and there will always be people who superficially believe a bully.

In the case of being a public figure, there are ways to deal with bullies in the public arena.

Just ask Alec Baldwin, who no matter what, calls out the bully every time.

In both public and private life, bullies are emotionally out-of-control people, spanning all ages, who need to be treated like wild animals who are sick.

I say, expose them, call them out, and step away.

Don’t keep it a secret.

With the exception of being a child with bullying parents, there is power in speech and action.

Standing up against the lies, vocally, publicly, when smears are fresh, is important.

Clearing the record on your own behalf, even in absurd situations, is a much better strategy for dealing with a bully, than is the shame-inducing response of tucking the damaging experience quietly away inside yourself.

Turning the other cheek is a cruel mythology.

Not only does it allow sick people to practice their sickness,

it internalizes helplessness, fear, and insecurities for those who are bullied.

Again, I say, speak up, call the bully on her/his behavior, and cut all ties, when possible.

The single act of calling out the bully is a powerfully self-respectful move that reaps great psychological dividends.

So many people have been taught to not tell the truth about being emotionally abused, and they pay a huge price for this in life and in low self-regard.

To clearly step away from the sick person is vital; to refuse to offer yourself as a whipping post, while acknowledging out loud the abuser, is the act of self-care.

Although the world is a different place than the society we boomers grew up in, the social teachings we were taught in childhood, such as “turning the other cheek” and “rising above” bad behaviors, can still confound us and confuse our actions today.

We do not have to be silent victims of outrageous sick behaviors.

Nor do we have to live lives soiled by acts of revenge and retaliation as a result of being bullied.

Let’s make it a habit to study the old teachings of how to live together in a human society, for there may be shreds of wisdom to retain from the past and carry forth.

For instance, I believe a piece of the high road is still relevant.

It goes like this.

Whenever you encounter a bullying person, you call them out loud for what they do.

You then walk away and stay away from anyone who abuses you.

That’s the new high road.



    
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