This is my third attempt at writing this. The first came out too convoluted and spicy, the second too long and sterile, but I think it makes sense this time. I’m going to stack a lot of basic concepts on top of each other to try and illustrate a deeper point. It might get a bit heady but try to stick with me – there’s a lesson here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Lately I’ve been getting a lot of questions that across the board boil down to issues of respect. From stereotypes regarding race or LGBTQ matters, to whatever political bullshit is happening in the news at the moment, to all the other nonsense that’s bothering you that everybody else seems to be doing, the concept of live and let live seems to have been largely lost as of late. It seems that in recent years we all believe our perspective is the only one that matters, and therefore our morals and standards are the only acceptable way to live. Not just for ourselves, but for everyone. It has made social media an absolute hellhole, and holidays awkward around the globe.
It feels like we all need a lesson in humility.
An Introduction to Your Place in the Universe
In case you don’t know, humility is defined as a modest or low view of one’s own importance. Now, this isn’t to say you think you’re a giant piece of shit and the rest of the world is wonderful – just that you’re able to keep things in perspective. Your own role in the grand scheme specifically. EVERYTHING is shit, if you will. I’m not trying to go down some destiny or free-will rabbit hole with that, but the important thing to hold onto from this is the understanding that you are just one of many, and your understanding or opinion of self is no more valid than anyone else’s. We’re all the same stardust in meat suits on some floating rock in space. Life didn’t come with an instruction manual, or an explanation, for any of us.
Okay, so – starting there, the very notion that we truly understand ourselves, and our place in the universe, is something we all struggle with, no? People turn to religion, drugs, and even sex to dull the darkness of those deep questions, and they have for millennia. This isn’t new to us or our time. Religion was literally created to keep the masses in line. So if we don’t really fully understand ourselves, what do we really understand? Isn’t it possible that everyone else is just trying day by day to figure it out, just like you? Why we’re here – individually or collectively. We’re all just dealing with the unexpected, life included, as it comes, and trying to pursue happiness in the time we’ve got. Pretty reasonable on its own.
Going a little deeper now, and to address the elephant in the room: if you are no more important than anyone else, and you have no magic answers the rest of us didn’t receive, and everyone is different in an immeasurable number of ways – with their own desires and failures and needs – why do you expect to understand ANYONE? When you think about it like that it’s easy to accept that ever understanding everyone else’s perspective is a fool’s errand, right? It’s hard enough to reasonably understand your family members, let alone your colleagues or friends – so why would we pretend like we will EVER be able to understand EVERYONE? All that lived experience and perspective? Think about how much you’ve been through, how much you’ve changed. Why pretend like you can, or ever will understand the extent of anyone else’s journey? Isn’t that ignorance in itself? It boils down to a simple math equation… there’s just not enough time.
I don’t say all this to say you don’t matter, or to sell you on atheism. I truly believe that we all do indeed matter, and that we each have something different to provide our collective society – although most of us will never reach our true potential. HOWEVER, understanding that your beliefs and desires are no more important than the next person’s is the key to humility, and the foundation for this next point.
Some Uncomfortable Truths: We’re All Idiots
At the risk of being brash, America has empowered free-thinking in a way where we all believe we’re special snowflakes destined for great things, and we all know better than experts. Maybe it’s not an American thing and it’s just human nature, but somewhere along the line everyone started taking their opinions for facts, and began believing more convenient rumors than the inconvenient truths. We all believe we matter, and our feelings should be respected. Sure, but the sad truth is: we’re all idiots.
Now, I get people will take offense to that – but you’re reading this alone in your head, there’s no one else around, be honest with yourself: how often do you do something that makes you think ‘goddammit I’m a moron?’ It doesn’t have to be some insane thing like wrecking your car or burning your house down. It could be as simple as stubbing your toe, or forgetting to pay your ticket before they add another penalty. We all have bad days and make mistakes. Sometimes we even take our feelings out on others. Sometimes it’s the service person, sometimes it’s a co-worker, but the vast majority of us actually aren’t above many of these simple things we’re so quick to condemn in others. In fact, we’re often guilty of making the exact same mistakes ourselves. Because we’re all human, after all.
The reason I bring this up is because understanding that the silly things others might do or feel that may or may not impact us often deserve grace, not our anger, which the world seems quick to respond with lately – myself included. Part of living in a community is doing things for the greater good, not just for yourself, and we need to rekindle the old value of minding your business. This, at its heart, is a respect issue.
If you think about racism, sexism, or any type of feeling where you think someone is ‘less than’ yourself, have you ever actually stopped to make the comparison between yourself and whoever else you’re judging in your mind? Do you really believe you’re the shining example for humanity? If so, you’ve already lost your humility, but have you really thought about why they shouldn’t, but you could? Or why your opinion merits impacting someone else’s opinions, feelings, or actions? It’s very simple. It’s because you don’t respect them, or their ability to make their own decisions.
You probably don’t like hearing that. It’s understandable, but if you really think about it – and again, we’re alone in your head here – that’s what it is. That doesn’t make you an asshole outright, and again, we all make mistakes sometimes, but becoming conscious of these missteps and reacting accordingly is how you get better, and that is what I want for all of us.
Maybe the best example of this is the way people feel entitled to talk down on others’ choices via social media comments. Typically saying wild things they’d never utter in real life (especially within swinging distance of the receiver) people think freedom of speech means you should be able to tell everyone else how to live. But even more curious, it seems to have made the general public believe the receiver is supposed to value their input. We have freedom of speech in this country. Totally. However, voicing your opinion does indeed lead to repercussions. We all want the *freedom* to do as we wish, but won’t afford others the grace of the same.
If you lead with disrespect, you should expect it returned, and no one likes that.
For the sake of pointing out some hypocrisy, let’s go with some of the big ones I often see people fight over. I’m going to try and play both sides of most of these brief debates.
Most religious people don’t want to acknowledge that religion is largely simple answers to complex questions that were created thousands of years ago to stop the masses from killing each other. It made sense then, but basic science can now disprove so many of those stories. You shouldn’t need to believe your big bad dad in the sky is going to punish you not to be a shithead. But people will shun, and kill over it. How crazy is that? Does it really matter how people get the moral code they live by? Isn’t it better for them to believe (if they need it) that there will be consequences for being a dick? Who cares which god, or rule book, they’re following? Even more, we just addressed you don’t have any answers they don’t, so why is yours better? It’s objectively not, so live and let live.
Or how about the people that get mad at other people’s sexual preferences? Or at the fact that these people even *exist* as close to them as they do? Let me ask you something – you have sexual desires too, don’t you? Do you want someone coming in and getting in between you and your wife, or telling you how to raise your kids? So why do so many of you think you should limit what others do with theirs? Or their bodies, for that matter. If you would do what you’re mad at with your own loved one, it’s really as simple as just shutting the fuck up and looking another way – but you probably won’t stop to think about it like that.
I’ll be honest, in my opinion any real form of PDA is for kids, adults have homes in which to be intimate, so honestly I don’t really want to see you kiss your wife at the mall either. You don’t need to *express your love* in front of all those who maybe don’t have it in their lives. But am I going to ask you to stop? No, because I have my own shit to worry about, and you should too.
That actually goes for privileged people outwardly complaining about the benign issues in their lives outwardly. I’m definitely guilty of this, but the truth is with most of the shit we feel like projecting, it just doesn’t matter to anyone else, and truthfully you’re probably turning people off by bitching about things they can’t access, or will never have. In their eyes you’re showing how weak you are. They’re managing to survive without it, can’t be that big of a deal, huh?
These are all just my opinions, and though they may be merited I bet you still wish I didn’t say some of them, right? That’s the type of energy you typically provide when you get involved in other people’s shit.
Using The Keys & Respecting Each Other
Alright, you’re probably mad at me by now, but here’s how I think we can make up: I said all this to lay out the foundation for the main characteristics I look for in what I consider to be ‘good people’. As I noted in the brief, I truly believe respect and humility are the keys to success in most situations – whether it be making friends, or getting ahead in business.
For example, all of the people I really see winning right now – the people I write about – the reason you don’t see most of them beefing, or navel-gazing on the competition, is because they’re busy doing their own thing, leading the pack. And more important than that, when they do see the community, and their so called competition, they lead with love. This is because they respect the other players in this game they’re so passionate about, and because they know they’re not the only ones who matter. I can not overstate how important being humble is. I can assure you none of the people I’ve ever written about – or have any interest in covering – have come to me saying ‘Fuck that guy, I’m better’ – or even just ‘Write about me!’ They let their products display their greatness for them. That’s really all it takes.
I know we live in an environment that thrives on competition. Everyone believes the next guy is coming for their plate, or their way of life. But the truth is we’ve evolved past our base instincts long ago, and we should act like it. We haven’t even managed to stop killing each other entirely and keyboard warriors are worried about some decision that was made that has nothing to do with them. I say again, don’t we have bigger things to worry about?
In short, just mind your fucking business and focus on doing what’s best for you. I am acutely aware that I’m a paid commentator who is saying this to you but believe me, for 99% of the world it is simply the best course of action. Don’t waste your time navel-gazing on others, or trying to live their lives for them, and let them make the ‘mistakes’ they need to. No one cares what you think, and frankly, you’ve got enough on your plate as it is.