Get Over It

(this blog has been cross-posted)

I have $19.41 in my wallet, and that amount is to last me for the rest of the week thanks to a major snafu on the part of a large company that took multiple payments out of my bank account one day two weeks ago, and a second time again last week. There are two reasons I’m telling you this: one, to show my certainty in my willingness to gamble with it; and, two, to point out that one event creates a domino effect afterward – which is part of the point I am trying to make now.

I am willing to bet that whole $19.41 – all that I have right now – that with the three words at the top of this article you have a good idea about my subject here. I even knew that those three words would get attention because of their implication.

Three words. Like I love you, they now carry a weight much larger than the space they take up on paper implies. Now especially, they can also evoke as much emotion as those other three little words, although their meaning has grown into something more hurtful, more uncaring, and more dismissive than before.

Get over it.

Something happened recently that has caused many people to be afraid. Very afraid. Had that event had the opposite result (and it very nearly did, if not for a … technicality), then another group of people would know that same fear – if their vociferous and public opinions beforehand were any indication; yet, instead of there but for the Grace of God their motto is the derogatory get over it.

When exactly did you stop caring about other people? When did you stop being able to see that it could have been you in that position?

I will ‘get over’ my financial issues after the company resolves its error in ‘the system’ which, apparently is a law unto itself, that will try three times – with no apparent means of stopping it – to make that same error a third time (I can’t wait to see what happens on Friday). I will ‘get over it’ after the bank has refunded bank fees and charges for overdraft, and when the company provides full compensation for what I have spent. Obviously, I won’t ‘get over it’ until later.

My daughter was in a serious car accident in July. While we are fortunate enough that she will heal in time, we will ‘get over it’ after she has completed therapy, after she is no longer in pain, after she is able to go back to work, and after she gets on her feet again. AFTER the actual event.

My mother had breast cancer. There were many things that happened after the diagnosis. We shaved her head in a ‘family ceremony’, she went through chemotherapy and radiation and suffered the aftereffects – not to mention how something like that can put one’s life on hold, or worse. Tell me, if the diagnosis happened in one day, when should she have gotten over it?

A man I loved died of cancer a little over four years ago. It happened; it’s done, right? When should I get over that?

I’m asking you to get a little perspective. The people who are concerned and afraid have their reasons for feeling the way they do. Who is any of us to judge what they are feeling or how strong their feelings are? Who are you to dismiss and disparage something that’s very real to them just because you don’t feel the same way?

We – none of us – are not even able to determine what courage is in another person, because we can never know what something might cost them. We decide someone else’s measure of bravery based on our own experiences and value judgments. We never really know how much the personal price is for a soldier, an activist, a parent, or the seemingly ordinary person walking out his or her front door … anyone.

We rush to judge people, and dismiss them only based on how we feel, conveniently forgetting that they have feelings, too. Like you, other people have their own truths. If you truly believe we live in a free country, if you value your freedom of thought, then you should be able to show some respect for the freedom of others in thinking and feeling as they do. Divided we fall.

Isn’t it funny how selective we can be, even with compassion? We seem to have more compassion for the person afraid of spiders. Why is that? Why can we accept their fear in that situation?
Do we ‘believe’ that opposing beliefs of others are to be scorned? That’s a little contradictory, don’t you think?

There is one more thing that I ask that you consider – if the above wasn’t too much for you already: the event that you are telling people to ‘get over’ hasn’t happened yet. A decision was made, and a future was foretold. These people you are telling to get over it haven’t even experienced what they are worried about – they were basically told that a disastrous event was coming. If it hasn’t happened yet, how can they possibly ‘get over’ it? And, if their fears are realized, what then? Or can you predict the future – including the actions of another – and fully assure others that everything will be all right? I’m a mother, and I have trouble telling that to my children – and there’s only two of them.

If you were told that something you feared was going to happen, how would you react? And how would you feel talking to someone else who didn’t understand your feelings?

Please, please, stop using those three little words. Understand the effect they would have on you. Remember the ‘other’ three little words. If you are unable to go that far then, please, just be quiet.

I love you.

I Am (Was) Part of the Problem: Assumptions

Tamar Carroll and I are cousins-through-shared-cousins, which means I’ve spent roughly 1/4th of my holidays growing up (about half of the gatherings on my father’s side) with her. Between the combination of a significant-enough age difference that always affects interactions with the ‘once-removeds’, geographical distance, and an almost diametrically opposite upbringing, I had never considered that we had much in common.

I am sorry for that perceived and assumptive brush-off, Tamar.

We both published a book within a year of each other, and I still considered us at somewhat ‘opposite ends’ – her book being based on ‘real’ education and mine only on ‘opinion’ (we all understand the significance of that, and I admit it).

With the normal expansion (and division, in some cases) of families, I began to see less and less of her. Then we became ‘Facebook friends’ (still a funny term to me). I ‘see’ her regularly now; more than when we saw each other at family gatherings.

We are both adults, she is married and I once was, and we are both parents. As expected, the age gap that seemed so divisive long ago has declined with age and commonalities became more … well, common.

I (finally) began to notice things, like specific-subject-matter posts she put up, and her likes/comments on certain posts of mine – and I began to see a resemblance between us, and our way of thinking.

So, I went to Amazon and looked up her book –

and realized I was a complete idiot.

First of all, it was not some lofty, over-your-head thesis type, written only for the well-educated to debate at dressy cocktail parties, laughing while barely opening their mouths.

Again, I’m sorry for my assumptions – all of them.

Secondly – and this was the biggest kick in the pants – her book is about ‘community’ activism, the affecting of change, the banding together of groups usually marginalized, AND how they are all intertwined.

Connections.

Isn’t that what I write (preach) about, in my own way, in my own words? About separation and pre-supposition? About pervasive attitudes and ignorance of the scope of their reach?

And I missed this in her? Because of my own ‘programming’ that seeps into my thoughts and actions?

This means that as much as I talk about fixing certain problems, I am still an active part of them.

Was.

The first step is admission. To be able to admit I’ve done something wrong or negative, I    have to be well enough away from it to view it from the outside. Now, any assumptions I make are not ‘habit’ but choice, because I’m aware I make them.

This also validates points that she and I both touch on in our writing: how ingrained our ‘learned’ behavior is, the un-awareness of the full scope and pervasiveness of certain issues, and the ties between them. It is all connected. We are all connected.

Now, this ‘young grasshopper’ has learned – yet again – that with all she has learned, she still has so much more to learn.

Thank you for the lesson, Professor.

………….

Purchase her book here:  Mobilizing New York: Aids, Antipoverty, and Feminist Activism (Gender and American Culture) by Tamar W. Carroll

From the back cover: “Carroll contends that social policies that encourage the political mobilization of marginalized groups and foster coalitions across identity differences are the most effective means of solving social problems and realizing democracy.”

From the Preface: “… I began to doubt prevailing assumptions that a strong group identity is likely a barrier to social movement building, and I wanted to learn more about how [these] coalitions maneuvered within the difficult terrain of identity and power.”