“I think silence is one of the failures of people today. When they see an injustice or intolerance, and they stay silent – that’s the worst thing.” ~ Anonymous
Why are you discussing this now? Water under the bridge, right?
No, the water continues to sit atop the bridge. Some – not all – nagging issues we face as adults originate in our childhood. Whoa, slow down. I never said the mother is always the one to blame – implying her entering the workforce and now earning PhDs in masse serve as the epicenter of all things terrible in one’s adulthood. Somehow when one traces an issue (s)he struggles with as a grown-up back to something that happened a child or teenager, the mother becomes the perpetrator. That is correct, many an insecure man who now must work for things once considered a birth right, believes this to be true.
My willingness to use brute-force-accountability stems from being raised around several self-righteous, hypocritical, so-called God-fearing people – who walk up outta the church every Sundays only to abandon the so-called teachings they heard screamed to them over the past five hours of church service.
I struggled with just letting things go, ruminating on missed opportunities to set the record straight – ESPECIALLY – if situations regard family members going unchecked for offending or hurting me and other relatives. This is the case rather the transgression is monumental or minor. Indeed, this tendency to get stuck is an opportunity for growth. It serves a purpose – being adamant about accountability prevailing – yet can be exhausting and alienating if overly used. As with most things in life – a personality trait, slices of moist sour cream pound cake, or using hyphens in sentences – they are good in moderation. So, periodically letting relatives slide on minor infractions should not be problematic. As I have established in the introduction of this blog series, my family does not do moderation very well.
Keith, why don’t you just worry about yourself?
Are we not supposed to be our brother’s keeper? Are we not supposed to help family – by not pulling up the ladder behind us? Are we not supposed to share our teachable moments and lessons learned to create vicarious experiences? Accepting responsibility for your actions and holding yourself and others around you accountable in a fair yet firm way builds character and strengthens relationships, right? Oh Keith, those are great talking points to use in political campaign speeches and verses to incorporate into family holiday dinner prayers, yet they transform to just kidding and examples of boy ain’t nobody doing that mess when the time comes to operationalize them.
We as Americans talk a good game about family values, the Golden Rule, and personal responsibility yet roll our collective eyes at the work required to stand tall in those virtues. We only like for select people to be held to certain values or access and utilize specific privileges. My family fits within the group of sometime-did Americans who think and behave this way. Disclaimer – not all Americans (or family members for that matter) feel this way, though enough do.
I choose to worry about my family’s shysters for the same reasons annoyed relatives would pose the very notion of get-way-from-here with that to me – because I can. I would keep my thoughts to myself if my dad did not complain to me or exhale other forms of just saying about the terribleness of our family’s Golden Child – a caricature upon which I will expound later. You would not hear a peep out of me if my kin did not blast my Facebook newsfeed with woe is me diatribes and lazily executed go-fund-me request for cigarettes, booze, or insert vice money. I would not stick my nose where it did not belong if I were not included on a group text where a relatives’ used her kids as bargaining chips in a failed SMS extortion attempt.
You changed – becoming more situationally aware. Won’t they?
Some of the hang-ups I have about old and new transgressions should be overlooked, right? My gut and reflexive answer is NO! Irrespective of the arbitrarily decided magnitude of any wrongdoing, my visceral reaction is usually a way of getting family members to acknowledge and apologize for some of the things they have done. Who made me the acknowledgement and apology police? I did. Yes, an apology is unnecessary at times – acknowledgment is always warranted. Nothing about my family experiences to date indicates acknowledgement will always happen. Why not? As we all know, calling a thing a thing or otherwise taking responsibility for playing a role in something that casts you in an unfavorable light is very difficult. Yet, we do things all the time that require a great amount of gritting one’s teeth to get it done. Why does acknowledging transgressions and moving on not fit in this category?
Example: Acknowledging asking for an exorbitant amount of money – whether it will be borrowed or considered a grant – in a text message is inappropriate. Apologizing for seeking help is not warranted.
Also, acknowledging wrongdoings, misspeaking, or slip-ups and apologizing as needed are situational. Wholeheartedly taking responsibility for our actions in front of people who we may already feel are superior to us – from a career trajectory, money-in-the-bank, which-type-of-car-they-drive standpoint – or otherwise appear to have their shit together further exacerbates the storyline we are just that much farther away from being on said people’s level. Taking responsibility for something exemplifies yet another instance of having power and agency stripped away. While painful to experience, this is no excuse or acceptable reason to trample the Golden Rule and treat the very people who are trying to help like crap.
Well, you don’t have to air our dirty laundry on the Internet!
I wish a relative would fix his or her mouth to criticize me for the content I include in this piece. In all fairness, they can say whatever they please – especially if they were born on American soil. The First Amendment tells us so. Yet, a simple overview of any of the relatives’ – especially the ones I will discuss later – social media postings would make this write-up look like at children’s book. The things they have said and done in front of witnesses in real life would make their social media rants look like a blank page in comparison. If the hit dogs of this blog find the content herein problematic in any way – details about their own actions – then they should consider not behaving the way they do. If they feel they can act as they please, then I feel I can discuss their actions as I please. The right to Free Speech and freedom of expression come with no freedom from the consequences of either.
You just think you’re better than everybody else!
Chile please. I am no better than any other person. Admittedly, I am very deliberate in how I comport myself – partly because Mahatma Gandhi made a great point in telling us to “be the change you wish to see in the world.” Partly because “…when you know better you do better,” as Dr. Maya Angelou would say. And, still partly because Oscar Wilde told us to “be yourself because everyone else is already taken.” Moreover, the “…better than everybody else…” part is a projection resulting from accountability evaders internally acknowledging their behavior is less than ideal. I do not know this for sure, yet it seems plausible. Why else would someone immediately look externally for scapegoats when their foul behavior is discussed? Why not interrogate the person they see in the mirror about what (s)he did to contribute to the situation?
This projection, acting out, setting the record straight, or not giving a damn about what people say I will do what I want, has many different forms. The classics and old hits include: 1) you sound just like them white folks, 2) you think you perfect don’t you, 3) you ain’t white, as if being white is a goal I seek – I strive to be the best person I can be, not white – 4) don’t forget where you come from, and 5) oh, you’re a big-shot now.
Some of the newer renditions of such foolishness include: 6) you’re brand new, 7) don’t judge me but give me insert dollar amount never to be repaid, 8) I don’t know black people who talk/act/dress like that, 9) this house is mighty clean for two ‘mens’ to live here and other remarks. I say all that to say, nothing about what I have blogged thus far is code language for I am better than you. It’s straight talk for do better and take some responsibility for your own actions for once in your life.
In Blood is Thicker than Accountability – The Golden Child, I share some details about our family’s most notorious favorite person ever. Nowadays this individual has begun to sour on the very relatives who worked overtime to create him.
I am committed to a person who loves me for who I am. He and I have two dogs. Cascadia is home for us. I know for sure no one makes it alone; bootstrapping is a cliched dog whistle. I surround myself with truth tellers. I am healthy and grateful for what I have (on most days). I wholeheartedly believe reading gives us super powers. Vote. Exercise. Eat Healthily. Sleep Soundly.