Monday, December 6, 2010

Hating the Haters and Other Profound Wisdom

by guest blogger, Joe Gerstandt


Yet another brush with my own hypocrisy.

I am having an unpleasant moment. I just caught myself being something other than what I claim to be.

You see...I seem to be bumping into a lot of close-minded people lately. You know exactly the people I am talking about. Ignorant people. A-holes. I bump into them in real life, I bump into them on-line and when I turn on the television. I am swimming in people that are clearly everything that is wrong with the world. And after a certain amount of this I just want to start kicking people in the shins. I thought that rather than kicking people I should just write a post about the close-minded people that are making me insane by ruining everything and then I wrote the title down on a scrap of paper.

And then I thought “what an arrogant and judgmental thing to say?”

So here I am having an unpleasant moment with myself. It is unpleasant because I claim to be a different kind of fellow.

I have come to believe that when I am having a lot of scratchy, challenging interactions with other people it is likely to be more an indication of my own mental, emotional, spiritual and social fitness than it is an accurate evaluation of these other people or their actions. I believe that. I believe that strongly.


The unpleasant truth is this.

I still want to kick people that don’t "get it.” It only takes a few minutes of watching the “news” or hanging out on Facebook to come across some perspective that is woven through with sentiments that are racist or sexist in nature or that questions the validity of Muslims or gays or atheists or fill in the blank. And more often than not, when I come across these perspectives, I want to do battle. I want to punish these people for the ignorance, bias, arrogance and privilege that I believe I see.

…and that is only fair because they started it.

Peace through superior firepower, right?

And this is why the stuff that matters so much is so hard.

This is why inclusion is hard. This is why honesty is hard. This is why peace is hard. This is why collaboration and community and family and democracy and love are all hard things to actually live. They are really easy to have as aspirations...but they are really hard to actually deliver on.

They are really hard to deliver on because there is always some really good reason for us to make an exception. We can always find some interpretation of some ideology, be it political, religious, economic or philosophical, justifying our sitting in judgment of someone else. And if we are not incredibly careful we can find ourselves becoming part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

The world does not need any more problems.


You and I cannot afford to waste our gifts, they are simply too precious. We must be solution people.

There is a book called As Bill Sees It that has been an important book for me. One of my favorite passages in this book is found on page 44.

"Too much of my life has been spent in dwelling upon the faults of others. This is a most subtle and perverse form of self-satisfaction, which permits us to remain comfortably unaware of our defects, too often we are heard to say, 'If it weren’t for him (or her), how happy I’d be!'

Our very first problem is to accept our present circumstances as they are, ourselves as we are, and the people about us as they are. This is to adopt a realistic humility without which no genuine advance can even begin. Again and again, we shall need to return to that unflattering point of departure. This is an exercise in acceptance that we can profitably practice every day of our lives.

Provided we strenuously avoid turning these realistic surveys of the facts of life into unrealistic alibis for defeatism, they can be the sure foundation upon which increased emotional health and therefore spiritual progress can be built."

Be good to each other.

Joe grew up on a family farm in northwest Iowa, served four years in the United States Marine Corps. Over the past decade, he has worked both internally and externally with corporate and non-profit organizations on issues related to diversity, inclusion and culture. Joe's work consists of helping people and groups of people truly understand diversity, inclusion, and culture so they can deliver better on their promises. His work is not about tolerance, sensitivity, or compliance it's about letting the dog off the leash. Joe lives in Omaha, NE with his wife, two daughters, and baby boy.

1 comment:

marc said...

you see friends of Bill's all over the place - nothin like sitting down to a cup of coffee first thing in the morning and pluggin in a resentment tape....