Changes in attitudes

A rare one

A rare one

Unlike Jimmy Buffet, I haven’t had a change in latitude for a long time. Oh, how I yearn for a vacation.

But I have had changes in attitude in the past couple of years.  

My first change comes about because of the old boyfriend on Facebook, who expresses his political opinions with such rancor, and misrepresents Americans so much I couldn’t stand it, got cut out of my friends list. I miss the good side of his nature but I think that when someone uses a sledgehammer when a fingertap will do, I don’t have to promote what they’re saying. And since I made that change, I began to think about what it means to express a political opinion.

In linguistics, which is what I studied in school, I learned that when you make a speech act, you are trying to make something happen. And the way you make something happen isn’t embedded in the words themselves–it all depends on the situation, how you create the act and with what words. For example, by saying “thank you” to someone, depending on the situation you might be making a show of appreciation, or you could be trying to get someone to stop talking.

When you express a political opinion, you are doing a speech act of some sort, but I’m not sure what it is. It’s becoming pretty clear to me that opinions put people in boxes. Giving a forceful opinion to someone who might have disagreed just a little bit may force that person to completely take the other opinion. You move into positionality. So, by giving your political opinion you might have been in the act of imposing your ego and saying “I’m smarter,” but the effect of your speech act is actually to make you stupider in the eyes of the beholder.

That’s what happened with my foreign friend who thinks Americans are total idiots and that our values are corrupt. I once thought he was a brilliant guy, but now he looks like an opinionated old fart. I’m saying this with the intention of letting the whole world know that I really am a dumb person who’s done the same thing–tried to look smart but in affect, been stupid.

So, now I seek the middle way. I’m going to try to understand. That’s what the world needs–not my opinion.

And the second change in attitude that I’d like to bring up is that I think I’ve gotten over some of my middle-aged, narcissistic illness. I used to complain about my home and the people in my life. I had a big pile of papers and scraps of this and that on my countertop. I used to waste more time on games and shows. Now I’ve come to realize that, well, for one thing I’m going to die in 40 years. And for another thing, this house I have, this husband I have, this self I have…

This is probably the best I could have achieved. Of all the men I’ve met, this husband was the best choice that I knew when I was marrying age. And this house is better than the other possibilities I could have dreamed up when we were choosing one. The trick of starting to look at things that way depended on humility. And now I do have humility. I’m careless, sloppy, lazy and dumb sometimes, and I haven’t had to pay nearly the price that others have had to pay for these same weaknesses. I mean, I did pay a high price for not being a better person, but I’m still in good health. I’m really fortunate.

A dividend of this new humility and appreciation is, I’m more honest about my skills and I’m more rewarded by the act of hard work. What else was I going to do with my time–wait for something better to come along? Not anymore.

So, I wish I could say this was the answer to everything and now I am happy. I’m really just feeling glad to be on better footing.

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