Times flies whether you are having fun or not. Like Bob Marley said, “None-a-them-can-a-stop-a-the-time.” He was right about that one.
A grand experiment of mine is coming to a close. In 2019 I decided not to pull any punches and let the chips fall where they may. (How’d you like that? Two cliches in one sentence. I’m on a roll!).
I spent a lot of my adult life trying to quell the raging tide inside of me. Emotions. Addictions. Afflictions. Predictions. In recent years I had a goal to hold my tongue back at least 20 percent of the time, especially when I felt a flush of anger or righteous indignation coming on. (Some of you should try this). I even tried to give up sarcasm or at least cut back. A quick tongue can hurt feelings and cause unnecessary drama.
Well this year I decided to call them how I saw them. I didn’t give up on trying to control my mind or stop practicing compassion in deed, thought and speech. But when I was presented with nonsense, fake news, injustice, uneducated hostility or the like, I decided to stand in and fire back. Unfiltered. The only way to stop a bad guy with a bullhorn is with a good guy with a bullhorn, right guys?
I have enjoyed approaching life with this refreshing new honesty and transparency but that’s probably not the best way to win friends and influence people. As a result of saying what I’m thinking I have received some threats via email and on social media, especially when poking at fun subjects like guns, climate change, politics, housing and even music.
I spent too much time trying to influence people with facts and educated discourse. Things can devolve quickly and rocks can start flying. I’ve discovered that no one is looking to have their mind changed. I like to think I have an open mind but I don’t change it all that often, either.
I have a responsibility as a columnist to share opinions on stuff and I did not hold back this year. I certainly upturned a few people here and there but most of the feedback I get is quite positive. So, even though I am going into a more pacifist, peaceful stage in 2020, I reserve the right to use this space to call out issues that cannot be ignored or sanitized.
I still remember a fateful day in Aspen about 20 years ago when I looked around and said to myself, “I’m still pissed off!” That passion has kept me motivated to opine for years now. I still care and will use my voice for good as long as I have one. I feel like it’s my responsibility as a human to try to do something positive.
I’m experimenting with going the other way this year. I will only use my sword when absolutely necessary and vow to add a little sparkle to the proceedings whenever possible. I’m going to resist instantly responding to the many hot button issues that set me off. It doesn’t mean that I agree with what I’m seeing if I simply resist the urge to react, escalate and rebuff.
So think what you want. That’s my message.
Want to deny science? Go for it. Racist? I’m not going to try and change you. Recycling? Your choice. Idling? I’ll hold my breath and my tongue. Guns? Shoot. Trap music? Sounds good. Typos? Bring them on. Hate Hillary? Whatever. Polosi? Fire away. Crawling in the left lane? I’ll wait. Cutting in line? Whatever. You don’t care? Doesn’t matter to me. Don’t like me? I love you.
I’m going to try channeling my intellectual energy into being kind, no matter who the opponent or what the subject. Of course I will fall off of my cloud and my finger will come out but I’m going to try to keep it in the mitten. If you wear a mitten no one will see that you are flipping them off, right? I hope I don’t find myself pulling out that finger but I will forgive myself if and when it happens. Nobody’s perfect.
I’m resolving to reach a higher plateau of civility and empathy. I’m not the only one to think about this. I just did a Google search to ask the question, “Is civility dead?” According to the internet, civility, like the American dream, is dead. There are many articles memorializing the end of an era.
I don’t want to add to the noisy volume. I’m getting out of the hot tub and will steam in my own juices this year. Let’s see how long that lasts or where it gets me.
Steve Skinner wishes you well, regardless of where you stand. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.