I think my #1 topic on blogs is human attitudes, and that's not surprising when it affects just about everything we do. We are funny beings, prone to anger, violence, and great cruelty at our worst, but also to incredible acts of kindness, altruism, and sacrifice at our best.
So, this contradiction, this range of behaviours from worst to best, give us plenty to think about, talk about, and work on.
I have a personal goal to be the very best person I can be. Obviously, I don't always succeed, but my intent is to be fair and kind, because I think that's the right way to be. I'm not the martyr type, I don't like that type to be honest, they seem to crave attention, and besides I'm no good to anyone else if I don't care for myself.
Not everyone strives for personal growth. Some people simply don't care if they are horrible. Others say they care but don't seem to do much about it. And most people...well, it can be half-hearted at times.
I tend to choose my friends among those who care, and who try. They've all got different ways of going about it, and I'm glad of that too. So, to sum up, while nobody is perfect, I'm certainly not, and I don't expect anyone else to be, I am happier in the company of, and in talking to people who at least are making the effort to be good people.
One of my constant themes in discussion and my own efforts, is the effect of personal choice. There is no question, no matter how non-judgemental you are trying to be, that some people make better choices than others. And, having made those choices, it is interesting to see how people work with their choices. Do they regret them? Try to change them? Accept responsibility for them? Or do they make excuses, claim defeat, and petulantly insist it's not their fault.
Last night at dinner two members of my family had a weird discussion. We won't call it an argument, it wasn't quite that, it was really a case of male banter, and I'm quite certain that although each was a little impatient with the other, it really didn't mean much to them. In fact had I not berated one of them afterwards, it would probably have been forgotten. But it was humourless, and it spoiled my dinner.
So, the one I viewed to be the instigator was told, by me, that I didn't like that type of conversation at the table, and that I thought it was inconsiderate. Also, that the attitude being shown was inappropriate. I was told, in essence, that he was just being him.
This may be so, but if "being him" is upsetting other people, it needs reflecting upon.
Now, there are two ways of looking at this. One is that I shouldn't be so touchy. I should leave them to get on with it. No harm done etc.
I could brush it off like that, and there have been plenty of times I have.
Aren't I the one, after all, who is constantly telling people that while we cannot change others, we can change how we respond to them.
I think that works well in most circumstances, and is a good approach to life. If you can let the moods of other people go right over your head, it will serve you well.
But there are certain situations that are a bit more intimate, and for me mealtimes are one of these. It is bordering on sacred. In a world where people eat fast food, alone, standing up, we are often far removed from the ritual of a shared meal, but I happen to believe in "breaking bread" together as a very special event, and I don't want it messed up by bad attitudes.
So, yes, I will call out anyone who spoils my meal. I can't expect them to behave correctly at all times, but they can save that for later.
I think we need compromise. We need to meet half way. First we need to meet half way in communication. To avoid misunderstandings, we need to express ourselves clearly, and listen carefully. Listen to what's actually being said. How often is someone who objects to what you said actually arguing a point you never made? So there's a shared responsibility in communication.
Then, all being clear what is being said, there needs to be a shared responsibility with regard to the fallout from it. We have to be careful not to take things personally that were not intended to be so, because it's not "all about me". But at the same time, it's not unreasonable to expect people to behave at least civilly. It is possible, for example, to have a difference of opinion, which cannot be solved, without resorting to arguments, accusations, and blame. So, the problem is not the difference of opinion, it's the attitude that goes along with it.
If we choose our words carefully, we can state most things without causing a problem. And if, having tried very hard to state our case politely and reasonably, we are accused of causing a problem, we can even then apologize without backing down. In other words, it is possible for two humans to oppose one another's stance completely, without any rudeness or unpleasantness. It can be done.
In politics they have trained diplomats to do this. There's a lot of tongue-biting, and handshakes with grim faces, but it stops us blowing each other up. Which is...you know... a very good thing.
But have you noticed how it seems to be easier to do this with strangers than those we are closest to? What's that all about?
So here's the thing, while it is indeed a wise policy to choose not to take offence at the behaviour of others, even when it offensive behaviour, it is NOT acceptable that the person behaving badly INSIST that others just put up with it. It doesn't work that way. Making allowances for others is noble, being a person demanding allowances be made is not.
It's amazing that we have reached 7.5 billion in numbers, many living in a very concentrated way, that we tolerate one another as well as we do. We can only achieve harmony if we agree to meet each other halfway, to compromise, to be flexible, to admit our faults, and to try to improve as individuals.
It's really no good to complain about warmongers if we can't even be polite at the dinner table.