Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Devil's Dirty Little Tool Kit

I have been with UPS for twenty-five years, and I've spent the last twelve years in the same office. Five or six years ago, a co-worker whose seniority was in the double digits was given a choice, relinquish your full-time position and go part-time, or take a walk. Corporate America. Well, as the story broke, we found this was not an isolated incident. Jobs and employees were being cut faster than bok choy at Benihana. No one felt safe. The spirit of fear that insidiously slithered its way through our work group caused dissension, rumors, dissatisfaction, feelings of worthlessness and apathy, and eradicated any concept of teamwork. The only point of solidarity was the vulnerability we felt.

I watched the other day as a man, a Middle Eastern man, almost wept in front of the two nurses at the front desk of the cancer treatment center. From what I understand about Middle eastern culture, this is an anomaly. His wife's cancer had begun to spread, rapidly, if I understood correctly. You could almost hear the desperation in his voice, but the hopelessness was crying much too loudly. A cousin of mine committed suicide last year. His hopelessness is still rippling through our family -- at birthdays and graduations, proms and holidays. An old friend of mine snapped. Barely in her fifties, she epitomizes the "crazy cat lady," and she rarely leaves her home. Like a modern day thief, her hopelessness has assumed her identity.

Fear. Hopelessness. As I age mature, I begin to feel more empathetic toward parents who abuse their children or so-called "deadbeat dads." I begin to understand drug dealers, welfare frauds, litterers, dog fighters, neighbors who will not stop parking in front of your driveway, jack rabbits at rush hour, the sycophant in the office, punks who hold up old ladies, and fathers who would beat a mother in front of her own children. I begin to see what is on the inside of some of these, societies most loathed inhabitants. It's not much different from what was lurking in our office those few months, or what cries out from a husband as he slowly watches his wife succumb to something he cannot even understand much less stop. Fear. Hopelessness.

I know a woman who would hurt her children just to draw attention to herself. Who would begrudge someone happiness just so she could say she took it away. Who seeks to control every situation and individual around her, but is so out of control herself, it is mind-boggling. Psycho? Manipulator? Maybe, but when I look at her, I see someone so sad, so alone, so pathetic -- and absolutely addled with fear. It is destroying who she is and how she relates to others. She is so obsessed with the idea that others will have more, or better, or less, or prettier -- and that if they do, she is "less than" -- that she cannot function outside of doing unto others before they do unto her. This, for her, is a fight to the death. She is not secure or happy or content in anything enough, that she can comfortably say "That's ok," if she does not have things her way. The perfidious thing about fear is, that in obsessing over it, she is perishing by it.

I overheard two women discussing a mutual friend. They had nothing nice to say about this women, yet they called her "friend." Hypocrites. Backstabbers. Right? Not as I saw it. These women had lost hope their friend was ever going to change. There was something about this woman they liked, but some of her characteristics had become so socially unacceptable, they were littering the line at the market with them, thereby becoming somewhat socially unacceptable themselves (but that's for another day). There was just something in their voices that said, "We are not terrible women, but we have no hope our friend will ever stop monopolizing every conversation and trying to outdo everyone with her spending. We'd love it if she would be more of a friend to us, but we don't think that will happen. So, we vent." Nothing prospers in hopelessness.

Fear. Hopelessness. You see them everywhere. It is my humble opinion that theses are Satan's two greatest tools. Look and listen. You'll find that most of what is wrong in the world today can be traced back to some one's fear of being cut, trampled, without, left behind, or made to look foolish, or it comes from a lack of confidence that anything can change. I enjoy right wing rant as much as the next gal, but I challenge some of these folks to really look with compassion, as Jesus did, on the cause of some of these problems in our society. I don't say excuse them or pardon them, but I do say follow the example of Christ and look on them with love. In understanding, we just might be able to make a difference.
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