A Plea for Empathy

I usually try to be pretty positive on this blog because I think there’s enough negativity in the world . . . But I have to admit that today’s post is probably going to be a little cynical because frankly that’s how I’m feeling right now.  What with some challenging, exhausting events at work this week plus the frustration of watching some of my own friends & family support this Confederate flag nonsense & subsequently freak out over the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage today, it’s all made me want to pull my own hair out.  I just want to scream “Have some empathy for two seconds, people!”

Pretty accurate visual depiction of how I'm feeling right now

Pretty accurate visual depiction of how I’m feeling right now

I haven’t had enough sleep in the past 72 hours to formulate well articulated arguments, but I am so full of anger & frustration right now that I know I need to write something, for my own sanity if nothing else.  So here goes.

If you support the Confederate flag, please stop for a minute & ask yourself this: if you were black or part black or perhaps married to someone who is black, how would this flag make you feel?  As one of my friends so eloquently pointed out to me today, the Confederate flag was not even popular immediately after the Civil War.  It wasn’t until decades later that certain segments of the (mostly) Southern population took up the flag as a symbol, largely as a sign of their hatred of blacks.  Hmmm.  Now trying to say the flag doesn’t support racism sounds even harder to believe . . .racism

Yes, I am smart enough to understand that the FLAG isn’t what makes people racist . . . That’s obviously a behavior/mentality that develops over time.  As some have astutely observed, Ferguson, MO & Baltimore had “race riots” & those states do NOT fly the Confederate flag over their state buildings while South Carolina, who does, has NOT had riots, despite the recent racially motivated mass murder.  So, no, the FLAG isn’t what makes people racist or do hateful things.  But it is still a SYMBOL that represents a less than stellar history in the treatment of black people in this country, & as such it has no place in our culture.  If you were Jewish, would you want to see Swastikas flying around on government buildings?  Didn’t think so.

Boggles my mind that these flags are still flying side by side in SC

Boggles my mind that these flags are still flying side by side in SC

As a Libertarian, I obviously value freedom & I don’t think that PRIVATE institutions should be banned from using the symbol if they desire to do so.  I still think it’s a stupid thing to do, but, hey, this is America; you have the right to be ignorant if you want to be.  But there is no place in any official government position for the Confederate flag because of its history & the not so subtle “you’re not welcome here” message it sends to our African American citizens.  Furthermore, as another wise friend of mine pointed out, being proud of being Southern does NOT mean you have to embrace the Confederate flag.  There are plenty of other things about Southern culture to embrace to show your cultural pride if you feel so inclined.  (I have very mixed feelings about the South myself, but that’s another post for another day.)Marriage-12-15-10-web

As far as the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, frankly it baffles my mind how anyone can still be opposed to homosexuality.  I have not heard ONE good argument for why homosexuality is wrong.  Ever.  And saying the Bible says so (ambiguously, I might add) is NOT a good argument.  Even if you think it is, there is still not a good argument for why gay marriage is discriminating against Christians or anyone else who believes it is wrong.  gay-marriage-flowchart

As a Libertarian, I don’t believe private organizations like churches should be forced to marry anyone they don’t want to marry.  That’s fine.  I respect that even if I completely disagree with their reasoning.  Hell, there are churches that would have refused to marry me & my husband because we lived together before we were married.  As crazy as I think that is, I still support their right to do so as a PRIVATE organization.  But I see no good argument whatsoever for why gay marriage should actually be ILLEGAL in this (or any other) country.  When I see pictures of my gay/lesbian friends on Facebook with their lovers/husbands/wives, I feel nothing but happiness for them, today especially.  End of story.supreme court

There really isn’t a focused point to this post.  The last thing I want to do is stir up arguments & debates.  I don’t have the energy for that right now, mentally, physically, or emotionally.  But for my own sanity, I just needed to write to clear my brain a bit because I’m so frustrated & angry at the lack of empathy I see around me right now.  We can be better than this, people.  We really can.

I’m out of even half way eloquent words right now, so I’ll end this post with a link to the video for a song I discovered this week that could not possibly be more relevant right now.  The lyrics are in the video, but you can also read them below the link: Christ Copyright by Nothing More

Nothing More, an awesome rock band out of TX whose music I was lucky enough to discover this week

Nothing More, an awesome rock band out of TX whose music I was lucky enough to discover this week

Don’t form thoughts, trust politicians
Forfeit soul, pursue religion
Lose free will to gain protection
Sink the ship with good intention

See our minds become conditioned
As we swear by these traditions
Lose our hearts & breed division
Oh my God, why can’t we wake up?

They’re selling heaven tonight
Sign on the dotted line
They got your Christ on copyright

To think you know who goes to heaven
Is just one big misconception
Like God hates fags & communism
Create fear to feed the system

They’re selling heaven tonight
Sign on the dotted line
They got your Christ on copyright

We are not machines

If they scream loud
They might muscle the crowd
But we won’t bow down
No, we won’t bow down

They’re selling heaven tonight
Sign on the dotted line
They got your Christ on copyright

Real Life Romance Is Better Than Fairy Tales

This past weekend I watched a British film called I Give It a Year which centered on a subject I’ve been pondering a lot lately: why some marriages/relationships last while others don’t.  A common theme I’ve come across in this regard is that real life ruins romance, that the nitty-gritty grind of daily life leaves even the most passionate relationships tasting stale after a couple of years.  The movie dealt with this very topic (quite good by the way, if you appreciate British humor).

Let me preface the rest of this post by saying that I’m no relationship genius . . . I don’t suppose anyone is really, but least of all someone under thirty.  But I have been with my husband for over a decade (married three years at the end of this month) & I can honestly say that our relationship has only gotten better over the years.

Sure, real life has changed our relationship over time, but we haven’t lost our passion because the foundation of our relationship (our friendship) has only grown stronger over time.  For example, yes, my husband doesn’t bring me flowers quite as often as he used to . . . But he doesn’t work at a florist anymore either!  And he still buys them for me on special occasions or even randomly when he knows I’ve had a bad day & just need a happy surprise to make me feel special.  (This happened recently when I woke up with a headache & broke the blender & he knew that I was upset by this turn of events.)  More importantly we both still take the time to do the simple little day-to-day things that show each other we really care & are invested in this relationship.

Living together does indeed open up a whole new can of worms so to speak.  For example, yes, my husband leaves empty toilet paper rolls in the bathroom all the time, & yes, there is a part of me that wants to scream “How hard is it to just change the roll?!”  But then I remember that I do little things that annoy him too . . . And he doesn’t scream at me about those things because we both have the presence of mind to realize that life is far too short to get angry over things that are of no real consequence.  So instead of getting angry, we just laugh, roll our eyes, & move on with life.  To us this is just the logical way to handle the everyday frustrations of life.

Some of my husband's gorgeous landscaping.  He's so talented!

Some of my husband’s gorgeous landscaping. He’s so talented!

This is not to say we don’t have arguments . . .  And, yes, they are usually in the car because we are both very strong-willed & proud & think we’re always right about everything  (I’m kidding . . . sort of), especially directions!  And, yes, there are definitely times when stress from work spills over into our relationship.  But when that happens we call each other out on it & we work to fix it quickly.  Furthermore, we’ve always had a “no holds barred” policy in which we can say anything & everything to each other.  Perhaps this means we say “mean things” to each other more often than we “should,” but it also means there is never an opportunity for resentment or bitterness to arise between us.  To put it simply, I don’t expect him to read my mind, nor does he expect that of me.  If something is bothering us, we don’t mince words; we just say it.  As my husband recently stated “If you can’t tell your partner to buzz off every once in a while, what kind of relationship is that?”  I heartily agree.  The important thing is that you get over it quickly & that the underlying anger/frustration isn’t allowed to fester & build into an explosion.

My husband & I definitely talk to each other like this sometimes.  It makes for a lot of laughs!  :)

My husband & I definitely talk to each other like this sometimes. It makes for a lot of laughs! 🙂

Certainly real life can make romance a bit more “work.”  Sometimes my husband & I go days without having any real time together, especially since I work night shift & thus we can literally go days without even seeing each other sometimes . . . But instead of resenting each other for this, we allow the time apart to help us appreciate our time together all the more.  And we make the best of the time we do have.  We prioritize spending quality time together, knowing that nothing in our lives is more important than our relationship with each other.  We take care of each other in various ways, not so much because either of us is incapable of doing things for ourselves but because we realize that life is better together, & thus we take care of each other out of mutual love & affection.  We do not view each other as filling certain “roles,” rather we view each other as intellectual equals in a romantic friendship (otherwise known as marriage), each of us having unique but complementing traits.  Because we have such a comfort zone together, yes, sometimes we do become the worst version of ourselves around each other . . . But we also see the best version of each other a lot of times too.  And the best times are definitely worth all of the worst times.

I guess what I’m trying to say is we never went into our relationship (& thus our marriage, which is really just an extension of the relationship we had prior to marriage) with any fairy tale ideas.  Marriage isn’t a fairy tale because LIFE isn’t a fairy tale.  It never has been; it never will be.  Real life is mundane, stressful, & sometimes even dull.  But it’s also full of beauty, joy, & meaning if we look for it in the right places.  As someone who grew up watching Disney fairy tales over & over & over, amazingly enough I’ve always had the foresight to understand that no relationship is ever perfect.  Everyone fights at times.  I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again: if I can’t fight (I prefer the term argue actually) passionately with someone, I probably can’t do anything else passionately with them either.

cinderella marriage

[As an aside, I also think a lot of people have an unrealistic idea of what romance actually is.  A lot of people seem to confuse attraction, lust, or passing interest with romance when true romance is so much more.  Furthermore, I’ll be so bold as to say that romance isn’t having the proverbial butterflies in your stomach.  Real romantic relationships are built around a solid friendship, & real happiness is found with that person who makes you feel comfortable & “at home” when everyone else makes you feel nervous, afraid, or worse yet bored.  To me this is just logical & makes perfect sense but apparently it’s a bit more complicated because a lot of the world obviously hasn’t figured it out.]

I hope I haven’t come across as self-righteous or as if I think I have the perfect marriage.  I’m just trying to make sense of what I see in the world & to share a message of hope that real life doesn’t have to ruin romance.  I know a lot of people say my generation is clueless when it comes to relationships & that we don’t know how to handle marriage, but I want to prove those people wrong.  (And I like to think I’m off to a pretty good start.)

true love chickens

From the things I’ve observed in life thus far, I’ve deduced that a lot of people go into relationships & then marriage with the idea that everything is going to be perfect.  When real life creeps up on them & they realize that reality isn’t matching up with the fairy tale they imagined, suddenly they think they’ve failed.  I don’t know who or what is to blame for this phenomenon . . . I’m sure movies & TV feed into this scenario somehow.  But even as a kid I knew that the things I saw on TV weren’t real.  As adults we need to grow up & realize that real life is the nitty-gritty day-to-day grind & there’s no reason why that should spoil our fun.  I’m not at all suggesting anyone settle for someone with whom they don’t share real passion in all aspects of a mature relationship.  What I am saying is that real passion doesn’t have to be worn down by every-day life.

This is why I’m a huge proponent of living together before marriage because it allows you the opportunity to experience day-to-day life together.  In so doing, you can figure out whether seeing each other at both your best & worst, with all of the bad habits & general grossness that encompass everyday life, ruins the romance or whether it only makes it grow stronger.  (On the other hand I do not encourage rushing into moving in with a new significant other.  I am only talking about serious, long-term, committed relationships.)  It’s been my experience that when you have the basic ingredients for a sound relationship, a solid friendship combined with physical/romantic attraction, the daily grind of life will not ruin the romance at all.  It will only grease the wheels.

irritating love cartoon

**As an afterthought, I should disclose that my husband & I do not have kids yet so I have no idea how that tremendous variable will affect our marriage someday.  I can only hope that if we approach our relationship in the same logical but loving way we have for years now that the romance will continue to blossom despite the challenges that I know children can bring into a relationship.

***Here’s a great article that I believe explains what the ultimate relationship should look like.  Notice I said ULTIMATE, not perfect.  I believe if you have the qualities listed here, the romance & passion will NOT die over time; they will only grow stronger.  http://jamesmsama.com/2014/07/09/10-qualities-of-the-ultimate-relationship/