I was busily writing an article that finally puts clear what I do stand for spiritually. But a few weeks ago a co-blogger used terms such as ‘altruistic’ and ‘innocent’ in response to what I wrote on another post. An Itch started.
A week later I heard from another mental health ‘expert’ that my ethical demands were idealistic and naive in the current climate. You think I’d be used to it. As you’ll see later I first got this accusation in 1985 and endlessly since ,but nevertheless…The itch turned into a burn.
And for two weeks now I have found myself arguing for humans, and for their goodness ,their potential, their history….The burn started building into a volcano (even my stomach started rumbling I swear).
Then yesterday morning I sat in a café and listened to the bitter cynicism as two souls contemplated all the ways they’d been let down lately.
The volcano erupted and opinionate I must!
As I responded at my friend Jon’s blog (http://spritzophrenia.wordpress.com/): my neighbor and I were chatting and whilst he agreed with me in our potential he also described human beings as a gigantic slug moving along ever so slowly. I paused…accepting his idea but then replied:
“so I’m the bitch with the cattle prod behind the slug”
Believing in the inherent goodness of the human, believing that psychological evolution is not only possible but is what we are all about, and that that evolution is onwards and upwards is NOT naive nor idealistic nor innocent nor any other cop-out terms. Nor is believing that you and I should, and CAN do better.
I am not nice. I do love people. I often don’t like them though and I definitely think we all need, right here, right now, a universal face slap ( my newest expression :)). At least all of us who have been recipients of having their basic survival needs met and a chance of education. I am blunt, I am honest and I am very, very determined.
I am not naïve, nor idealistic, nor innocent (that one still cracks me up). Oh dear…I just have to say…as corny as it is “I am woman hear me roar” 🙂
For the record; my first twelve years were spent with a bitter twisted woman who was exceptionally violent and hateful and a man who wouldn’t stop her. I then spent years in a catholic orphanage seeing damaged kids, damaged parents, damaged catholics, damaged society.
By nineteen I realised, if I followed common wisdom, I would brand child abusers as bad, catholics as cruel, society as f–ked and end up constantly living a bitter, angry and completely drunk life for my heart was naturally a joyful one. SO I decided to try to understand how people could be like this.
I have studied from that moment and for twenty-four years practiced as a psychiatric nurse caring for thousand of people in prisons, hospitals and in the community. And I mean cared for them from counselling to narcan, with company, with education, with advocacy, with resuscitation, with tears. My very last client as a psychiatric nurse hung herself and I found her. Suffice to say; I’ve seen a bit!
And in all that time, only two people ever had me stepping back in fearful wonderment that this could possibly be a ‘person’ standing before me…with such an absence of empathy. Both had severe anti-social personality disorders (the old ‘psychopath’) and both sit in my mind to this day as an enormous question mark involving words like evil, soul-less and such strange concepts.
And this is what I know for sure. Ninety-nine point nine percent of people behave badly only for two reasons. Firstly it can be because they are indoctrinated to do so and/or secondly, that they have been emotionally damaged.
And this, if you have my brain anyway, is cool! Because I also know for sure that emotional damaged can be healed and if done so the person will flourish and in a good way!
At twenty-two I read Maslow and Rogers and saw the humanist in me rather than me adopting it. My experience every day since then only proves to me again and again that if allowed man is essentially good. Doesn’t mean they don’t act like twits most of the time but it does mean potential is there.
So no. I’m not naive or idealistic. I have studied, I have worked and I have lived. And I absolutely believe in our goodness. I absolutely believe in our commonality emotionally and our uniqueness individually. I absolutely believe in our ability to heal (despite psychiatry having lost its way).
My personal fear is that our apathy, our personal bitterness, our wounded hearts zap our energy and make us lounge-chair critics allows crap to happen. We sit alone, grumpy at that which makes us grieve, at those who have let us down, cranky when people speak of hope. But that is my ‘fear’ and to live according to fear is not to live at all.
We must be the change we want to see. We CAN do better.
Okay so opinionated I have :). Here is a section from my ‘forever being reviewed’ memoir of my first 46 years about the first time I heard I was idealistic;
Suddenly, the quiet of our bathroom was shattered by the rocket opening of the door.
“What on earth are you doing?”
It was the Charge Nurse, eyes-a-glinting and tone demanding.
“I’m just finishing off with Rita and then I’ll be ready for the next one,” I announced cheerily.
“You should have done four by now and what on earth are you letting the water out for?”
Stuttering to respond she cut me off with authority.
“Four patients per bath, it should only take you ten minutes to get them up, bathed, and dressed. Now move it.”
“You’ve got to be kidding” I replied without thought, “how can they possibly enjoy that?”
Her response has stayed with me always.
“Oh yeah, I know you. Idealistic crap. I used to be like you. But you’ll change girl don’t you worry.”
Her words were bitter and scorning, the expression on her face reminding me slightly of my mother. Bitterness is a horrid choice of response to life. It hurts all it touches.
“If I become like you I’ll leave this job” I replied stubbornly and took Rita into the lounge. The Charge Nurse and I, surprisingly, never got on from that moment. It was a problem I seemed to continually create for myself.
See for me, it’s not about pointing the finger ‘out there’.
It’s not easy to continue to focus on the goodness of man when one looks at the worst we humans do, or if we expect some sort of reward.
But it is easy to stand up when one considers the most likely course of humanity if we do not strive individually to be the very best we can be no matter what others do.
Don’t worry about others. Today, you challenge yourself to act at all times…well… I already wrote about that in https://leesis.wordpress.com/2010/09/11/i-only-have-one-moral/.
Nope, I’m not idealistic. I have ideals and whilst I breath I will try to live by them.