Pressure

Last night, someone asked me if I was happy with what I was up to: two Masters, trying to find a new job, being super-busy with Church stuff, and otherwise under a lot of pressure. My answer didn’t really sound that good. I want to be obedient to God and because of that, I don’t expect immediate happiness. That just sounds bad. It seems like the point of doing all of this stuff is becoming happy, and I don’t remember what it’s like to be happy. I can remember gratitude, but at the same time I’m trying not to panic every second of the day.

Having problems isn’t really going to change. Everyone has issues, whether they’re health-related, whether it’s employment or family or school or relationships or whatnot. Some of the problems get solved, and a lot don’t. At least not in ways that are convenient or otherwise things that are “nice and fluffy.” There’s no puppy or reward for completing some of these issues. New problems come up to replace the old ones. While I like being a problem-solver, the solutions that I see to the problems are things that I can’t do anything about.

Maybe my worldview actually isn’t that bad. I do everything that I know to do, and I have faith in grace. I try to have a lot of patience because my life is non-ending pressure, and there isn’t adequate outlet for it. I don’t know anyone who is happy-go-lucky all the time. Attitude does have a lot to do with it, however.  Everywhere I go, I’m expected to be an example of my belief system. To literally live my religion as well as I can. People have perceptions of those in my religion that could be anything, and a favorable impression is the best thing that we can do.

We don’t persecute others and wish not to be persecuted. I feel sorry for politicians who ascribe to my belief system as politics is non-ending catfights and sorrow. I love peace, quiet when wanted, and a time to dance in positive manners when possible also.

Anything that isn’t perfectly in accordance with my belief system in my life makes me upset. This isn’t necessarily about other’s actions very often, but about my actions. Of late, there are myriad examples of things are not in perfect accord but all of them require things that are not under my control to correct them. I have built my own puddles and walls but I don’t own ladders and don’t have bridges. There is honestly no way that I can save myself (ha. not possible to save yourself, no, but wanting to make up for things- that is where I fall flat on my face and break my nose no matter how much I want to repent.) Saying that you’re sorry often is not enough on these things. It is paying things back bit by bit. I just don’t have the ability to do so now. That is the reason that I want a job besides paying bills.

It feels like the math concept where a line can get so close to zero, but never quite gets there. I feel frustrated that I will never get where I need to should be. Although I am grateful for where I’ve gotten so far, all that I can ever see is where I am insufficient and it compounds when looking at the different aspects of life. I see all of my errors and how I don’t have ways of fixing them. Some of these errors have been around for a while. While none of them bar me from participation in religious activities, I’m sick of having my soul eaten up by acidic pain, remorse, or guilt over things that I would change in an instant had I ability.

It’s like looking at the homeless people when going on or coming off highways or at major intersections and seeing their signs and not being able to do anything about it because of being on low fuel and not having cash or otherwise ability to do anything. I don’t care whether someone did things to get to the point where they’re at. Who hasn’t? God doesn’t look at someone and says, “Oh, you did this to yourself. I’m not helping you.” He looks at them, shows compassion, and helps them get to a better place: training or something else that changes people and helps them toward a better life. I desperately want to be better and to be clear, and it’s not happening. Prison isn’t just for cell inmates. I talk to God a lot, and He doesn’t bug me about the things that I haven’t been able to change. I think that He knows that I know them well and want to fix them and don’t have a clue how to do it currently besides what I’m already trying. I typically come back with more things to do, and my feet feel bashed because I don’t see how I can get them done when I need to get these things done…somehow.

When you’re capable, it seems like you become more alone. People expect more of you, and sometimes you have extremely kind friends who help you get from A to B, but most of the time expectations are that you will figure it out for yourself. That you will do something that will save yourself, or that you won’t mess up or somehow that you will see any or all dangers and not make any mistakes. Nothing will really get to you; somehow you’re superhuman. That is RIDICULOUS thinking. It sets an extremely unfair double standard on people and makes it close to impossible to recover. The world is a very cruel, cold, lonely, bitter place.

So, all of those judgements, whether they come from others (often the case), or come from internal sources (people usually tell me that I’m too hard on myself, but I figure that it’s better me being hard on myself versus someone else being hard on me- beat them to the punchline, as it were), it’s a LOT of pressure. Saturday and yesterday, besides asking whether or not I was happy, I had people who told me that I needed to de-stress. I would if I could, but I can’t, so… I can’t. I am responsible for myself. I have extremely good friends who are kind and thoughtful, but the only person putting me first is me. And that doesn’t work out that well, either. There’s only so much self-talk that a person can do to feel better, work harder, or otherwise keep going. I do believe in infinite capacity and that God can do miracles and all. I just wish that they came before I was literally falling head-first at the ground and I can’t see anything to catch me.

The falling head-first without security is how I have felt starting in 2005, but was more apparent after 2008. But that’s when everyone lost security and safety. 9/11 was the beginning of restrictions in the name of safety, but trying to be a good person, trying to pay bills, and advance in life feels like trudging through the swamp in the Never-Ending Story where it’s just almost too depressing for words. Governments are destroying themselves, laws are passed that give no one any rights and take rights away, and people are dying more often now than before no matter what kinds of medical breakthroughs attempt to extend life longer. My generation is not doing better than my parent’s generation even though their generation expects it and says there is something wrong with us if that isn’t happening immediately.

I miss being part of a family. Miss a support system that kept me safe. I was brought up so well, and I received such an incredible education. My home life was amazing, but there were definitely flaws, most of which I didn’t know until I was out of the house. Now, my generation feels lost. We want to hold to something. Anything with a feeling of permanence to it. I’m a little surprised that anyone gets married anymore, even though I definitely believe in marriage and people having families.

I see other people who can figure it out (jobs, families, progression in life), and on one side wonder either what’s wrong with me, or else what can I do to change things? (meaning changing myself, not wanting to change them.) That’s about the time when I put my faith back in the tool belt and keep on walking because I can still walk and I don’t know what else to do. If I was sick in addition to my current maladies, I think I’d break. I may be sick, but I haven’t been able to get to a doctor for a long time and I do my utmost to try to stay at least symptomatically-healthy. There may be worse things going on, but I literally can’t afford to find out right now.

Guess there’s one thing left to do at that point. When at the end of the rope, make a knot, and hold on tight. I have nothing left but faith, and maybe an Internet connection if I can pay the bill.

Best to all,

GenealogyDr

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Fair Treatment of Religion in Media

If you read what I write, then you know that I am religious. It is not a belief in an institution, per se, or a dogmatic exercise in principles that keep me from having any fun. It is not the “effect of a frenzied mind,” nor tradition based upon upbringing. While upbringing helped in a few of my decisions in regards to religion (as in knowing that there was such a thing in the first place) I am a religious person beyond age 25 because I choose it. My religious convictions are pretty open, and I have gained and lost friends over following my faith. Not my decision about whether they were my friend or not in those cases.

Respect, honor, charity, and trying to keep a clear conscience are things that I hope that most people share in common whether or not they hold any religion sacred, or simply try to live a decent life. Over the last few months, I continually notice that Hollywood movies treat religion badly. This is nothing new to most people, but I have interest in ratings systems and who chooses what goes into the media that comes to the fore-front of culture. Video is a huge teaching tool. Its explosion into mainstream creation, akin to MySpace, iTunes, and YouTube reshaping the music sphere within the last decade opens up interpretation and its abilities to teach to a new level.

Highlighting impressions of how others react to religion makes me think of the Gregory Peck movie,

Title Poster of Gentleman's Agreement, 1947 film starring Gregory Peck and Dorothy McGuire

Gentleman's Agreement poster

Gentleman’s Agreement, which is about how there was a certain unspoken rule where treating one group of people badly was “acceptable.” The movie began changes in talking about treatment of various groups and nearly blacklisted everyone involved in its production during the 1950’s.

What people think that they know about a religion versus living it daily are often as separate as possible. In polite conversation, people usually do not talk about it because opinions run deeply and it’s as if no one is right and nothing is wrong. It’s a fast way to make people uncomfortable in a group setting. I like to keep my mind open, but not so open that my brains fall out the other end. I wish that talking about religions without putting them down was more how people spoke about groups in normal parlance versus simply in academic circles. I think of Gandhi’s ways of looking at life. Growing up, there was the idea of being an example of goodness to others around me. Not to look down on anyone, but instead being the best person that I knew how and to treat others well. Seems pretty standard Christian doctrine to me.

An NPR broadcast recently talked about how Americans have lost hope with every institution in society. That includes religious institutions. The analysis that I took away from the broadcast was that while Americans are disparate about their own lives, they would rather hurt others. Helping (creating) takes effort and investment of time (most precious intangible commodity) while destruction (hurting) is easy and the natural manner of the ethos of the world. I know of no one who is looking for something else to insert into their schedule because they have so much extra time that they do not know what to do with it. Everyone that I know is at capacity and usually complain about not enough time for x or y, etc.

The people who are the most confident give less credence to societal pressures and honors and give the most credence to who a human is as a person and where their efforts lie. In “The Last Lecture” the Cornell teacher talks about removing anything that a young man says from the equation and seeing how he acts as his mark of character. My actions aren’t perfect, but there is wisdom in this. I have friends in my different programs and at least a few teachers who are good people and treat others in kind.

What brought my attention to the bashing of religion in media were examples from movies that I otherwise liked for their humor or comedic intent and do not have ratings above PG-13. These are movies that are technically appropriate for most ages and seem pretty harmless from the outset. The phrases or inclinations were small and simple, but when added together in my mind made me pause, concerned over what such videos are actually teaching people. Every video or medium teaches something.

The example from movies here mentioned are parts of pieces that may not find offense normally but when added together make an imprint. In Ella Enchanted, the pivotal phrase, “I will not be obedient,” as taken in the context of the movie expressed finally choosing free will and breaking a spell. I thoroughly agree and believe in people having agency and in exercising it for good purposes.

However, the phrase, “I will not be obedient” also implies that obedience is condescension of sorts. Perhaps it is the absence or removal of free will whereas this author suggests that it is more about exercising free will than any rebellious campaigns or charges. Depends upon who or what one is being obedient to and the motivations and intentions of that entity.

Law-abiding Americans follow paths of responsibility frequently without considering that what they are doing is choosing obedience. Whether or not for religious purposes, the word obedience makes a lot of people uncomfortable. It’s not a case of “doing any thing that you want to do anymore” but thinking about consequences and believing in responsibility and a removal of at least portions of otherwise selfish behavior.

For my life, obedience to God keeps me freer than otherwise. No, I’m not perfect. My ideals are high even if execution of the ideals is not completely consistent. That said, blind obedience is a misnomer. Unless a person has a full understanding of what they are doing or are getting into (availing themselves of the fine print, etc.), then it is not obedience.

I grew up with a healthy ability to ask questions and to look for answers to said questions and not to believe everything that I see and hear. Also not to judge what I see and hear or feel and toss it based upon one sense group alone and act as if there is only one way to understand imperfect or perfect knowledge. Obedience for me is an act of free will and exercising that will in a positive manner with knowledge attached.

From there, in “Easy A” the religious girl had a monotonic personality. She was snobby, selfish, demanding, hypocritical, and a person with whom no good and kind person would want association. Two-faced and otherwise a horrible example of a believer of anything to do with Christianity. Her caricature was quite compelling as the de facto antagonist. The heroine was nice although she continually kept rumors circulating. Her last rebellious act against the gossip and backbiting that occurred from the so-called religious girl, nearly anything would work at that point outside of something pornographic. Religious girl was the antagonist, but good she was not.

Anti-heroes are often the people most rooted for, and I normally prefer them to people who act self-righteous. Being laid back and open-minded are normally good qualities. The film makers assumed correctly that a portrayal of someone religious being horrible to someone who was not was acceptable for the viewing audience. This was a hit comedy. If this view was not something acceptable for parody, it would not have its creation in this genre, but be part of a drama.

There are other forms of media that directly attack religious groups and pass it off for comedy. It is not a case of defense to call this out, but thinly veiled minstrel shows are debasing and incite disrespect. Crass, rude, and nothing to do with how the people of that group see themselves but everything about making a group of people look ridiculous in a climate where being anti-religion is the powerful standard.

It’s not a case of taking something too hard, or of not having a sense of humor. Far from it, having a sense of humor should uplift and there is good sense attached to positive humor, while there is something else that debases. I would give a lot for people to choose positive and uplifting entertainment. Not prudish or self-righteous or always serious, etc. but of good report or praiseworthy and something that increases respect. It is possible. There is other humor out there that helps and inspires goodness but it is up to the public to choose it.