Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Seeing Yourself in Others

The past few days had me unsure as to whether or not to write this entry. Bits and pieces of what to write popped into my mind, but not a full work that was post-worthy. However, in light of recent events occuring on the social media sphere, some more thoughts came together that seem timely:

In his Feast of the Holy Family homily at my church a few days ago, Bishop Quinn (former auxiliary bishop of Detroit) described the Christmas gift he recieved from his father on his 17th birthday.  It was a letter.  In it, the father described the joy he felt in seeing himself in his son as he held him in his arms as a baby. Bishiop Quinn tied this story into the theme of seeing yourself in others-in this case, in the context of family life.  However, this theme can be seen as universal.  We all must see some aspect of ourselves in not just our families, but our loved ones and everyone we meet.

This doesn't mean seeing yourself in another person in a selfish way.  It's seeing the dignity you have as a human being as also being in someone else.  It's also seeing your joys and sufferings as being shared with all people given our shared humanity.  Everyone may not have the same background, position, or life circumstances, seeing yourself in others recognizes that everyone has the capacity to experience them in similar manners.  You may not have gone through the same experience as another person, but the capacity is in you to deal with it in the same manner as that other person.  Conversely, the same is true.

Everyone is an individual.  Everyone has something about them that sets them apart from everyone else.  However, the things that make make people unique are the same things that binds us as human beings.  This is key in seeing yourself in others among all the aforementioned descriptions of this concept.

Seeing yourself in others, then, is ultimately not solely about you, but about you along with everyone on this earth.  The next time you interact with someone, envision yourself as that person.  When you look in the mirror, envision someone else as you.  It may make all the difference in how you relate to yourself and everyone around you.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Tale of Rita Barbour

7:50 am-Droid Control Tribunal, Metropolis.

She she ran up the stone stairs to employee entrance in the back of the building. Fumbling through her storage unit, she pulled out her work and apartment keys and comm-link and placed them on the table next to the x-ray scanner. "I swear Rita, you keep up holding up this line I'll have to make a memo to watch out for you", joked Martin, the security officer.  "Ok, ok, I'll have my things ready before I get in line tomorrow", she joked back. Walking down the hallway, she already felt her energy core fading a little. "Well, at least I'm not in the junk heap", she thought.  With five minutes to spare, she pressed the her right temple button, revealing her human look.  Today, its a black sweater with crisp white pants and heels.  Her red hair was in a ballerina-style bun. "Ok, let's get started", she said under her breath. The door opens to the immense public lobby entrance. She takes her place by the service windows. "Hello, and welcome to the Star Commission Tribunal. Please have your IDs and any e-scrolls relevant to your case ready in order for us to assist you".

9:00 a.m.
"I can't wait to get back to Neon Valley Street", Rita thought.  "Wondaland would be even better".  As she was picking up the next e-record to place on the file case, the office com-link lit.  "E-Records Room, Rita Barbour speaking".  "We will need file #473 brought to the 5th floor tribunal chambers immediately" said the voice on the other end of the line.  "Sure thing", Rita replied.  She descended the stool she was standing on and made her way to farthest file-case in the back of the room.  Files for the most serious offenses were stored there.  Luckily for Rita, the requested file was at eye level.  As she made her way to the elevator, she glanced down at the e-record in her hands.

#57821-Cindy Mayweather

"This can't be THE Cindi Mayweather, can it?", she wondered.  "I can't picture her doing anything wrong, much less anything that could get you disassembled".  The bell rings.  The thick metal doors slide open. Once arriving at the tribunal chamber rear door, Rita gives the case to the clerk and returns to her station, thinking about the stack of records waiting for her.

No sooner did she get back the comm-link light up again.  It was 5th floor tribunal chamber.  "Rita, we need you to pick up the file you just delivered to us. We're done with it.  The case is closed, so put it in the proper area".  "I'll be there", she replied.  She waited to look at the e-record again once the chamber door closed.  This time, large red letters were flashing on the screen:


"Oh, maker, no", uttered Rita in a muted tone.  The rest of the day found her struggling to concentrate on her duties.  She filed and delivered many cases during her time at the Tribunal, but something was different about this one. She felt she had hand in the condemnation of the most well-known figures in Metropolis-an innocent figure.

On her way home, the plaza mega screen caught her eye. It was a repeat announcement from earlier in the day: "Gooooooood Morning Cyboys and Cybergirls. I am happy to announce that we have a star-crossed winner in today's heartbreak sweepstakes..."

The rest of the words hit like the mallets used to assemble her.  She rushed to her Leopard Plaza apartment with an eagerness she never felt before. "There's gotta be something I can do", she thought.  The elevator door opens. Rita walks in. She presses the button.

4th floor...

Growing Down, Growing Up

There is a line in a song by my favorite singer (who shall remain nameless since it can be figured out by any of my tweets or some of my statuses on Facebook) that talks about the concept of growing down and growing up. In one of her tweets, this singer expounded on what leads to these two states.  To paraphrase: surrounding yourself with those who love you are the beginnings of growing up, feeding into ignorance are the beginnings are growing down.

To put a related spin on it, growing down could also mean self-doubt, low self-esteem, depression, and negative thinking. Growing up, then, is finding yourself, seeking the good for yourself and others in every circumstance, perseverance in trial, and understanding the true meaning of happiness, faith, hope, and love.

Granted, “growing down” and “growing up” aren’t easy conditions to get in.  The key is, however, is recognizing which direction you’re going, which in itself is a part of growing up. This brings up another line from the same song:

“…you gotta ooh-ah-ah like a panther…”
As of the moment I’m writing this, I couldn’t find, for purposes of this note, any details on the vocalizations cats make and their significance in communicating. According to Microsoft Encarta (2001), however, cats growl when terrified. It notes that Darwin, one of the first scientists to observe emotion, understood this reaction to evolve from movements associated with fighting and over time became used in all threatening situations.
When “growing down”, it’s easy to get terrified-of change, of getting out of that state, of making the proper moves to “grow up” when you’re ready to make that change-the list can go on. The “growl” is thus a signal that change is needed. A natural reaction, it’s an indication that something’s wrong.  If nature didn’t give animals such manners of communication, they’d be in even more danger. No signal of a problem means the appropriate reaction to the threat couldn’t be implemented. The same is true for humanity.

To “ooh-ah-ah like a panther”, then, is to recognize when you’re getting depressed, doubtful, or negative thoughts.  It means acknowledging when you’re facing such issues.  It’s also reaching out to those you trust in these instances.  By no means is it a walk in the park. From the long-term, view, however, the momentary inconvenience of the “growing up” process outweigh the lasting effects of “growing down”.

Emotional display in dog and cat. (2001) In Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia[CD-Rom].    Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation