Can Hope Survive Disappointment?

My column published week of January 9, 2017 in the Albert Lea Tribune and Courier-Sentinelperception.

If you hear something often enough and it is repeated time and time again and you listen, you might internalize and believe what is being said, whether it is true or not.

A young girl is called an ugly duckling over and over again. She grows into a beautiful swan, but because she has always been told she is an ugly duckling she still sees herself as that duckling in later years.

A young boy is told he is a failure at sports even though he hasn’t developed his talent, and as he grows and becomes a teenager he doesn’t try out for sports because he believes he is not good enough.

A wife or a husband is told over and over and over again they don’t deserve love. They aren’t contributing to a family or they are not a good person and they believe the way they are treated is because they don’t measure up and don’t deserve better.

Someone repeatedly hears many times a day that politicians are crooked and corrupt, but they don’t look for the facts and because of the fabrications they believe what is said.

Maya Angelou once said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” But we don’t. We see it every day in our friendships, in our marriages, in our businesses and in politics. Our excuse for not believing when a person shows us their true character is to give them another chance, we know people can change. 

There is also the question: Does a leopard change its spots? Can we apply that to life? We hope whoever it is that is telling that young girl she is an ugly duckling or convincing the teenage boy he doesn’t measure up, or the husband or wife who verbally assaults their spouse or the business owner who convinces us his product can’t be defective because it is our mistake or the politician who is corrupt and lies, sees their mistakes and will become a better, more honest and kinder person. We hope they change their spots, and they may do so for a little while to further their agenda.

There are people who have changed their behaviors toward others — but not until they have done the work to understand why they need to condescend and lie and behave the way they do. They must have an honest willingness to treat others better and become a person of integrity.

If you have ever been in one of these situations or in something else similar, did that person show you who they were, but you chose to see something different even though the facts and the words were staring you right in the face? Where does our eternal hope come from that the leopard will change their spots, keeping us believing in them despite what they have demonstrated to us.

Maybe the reason we can’t accept the life we live is because we would have to own our choices. Was the politician we voted in a mistake, and if it was, what does that say about us as a person? What about other decisions we made, were we blind? Does that make us weak? Does that mean we have bad judgment and are a failure? Maybe we don’t want to face ourselves and the fact we have accepted less in any part of our lives, so we can’t see the true reality of the situation.

I am pondering this today because I tossed out the word narcissistic on my Facebook page to see what would happen. My post said, “Narcissistic. That all I have to say for today in this post or I’d be toast.” The responses were interesting all the way from “I totally understand,” to “upcoming administration.” The definition of narcissistic is to have an excessive interest in oneself and one’s physical appearance. Exaggerated feelings of self-importance.

That brought me to thoughts of the things I have seen blasted on the news lately about people and politics. It brought me to the thoughts of those who make others feel less than human because of narcissistic feelings about themselves. What they say, behave and act toward others says more about how they feel about themselves than the person or situation they are targeting. And it still comes back to hope. In the midst of the fear, sorrow, and feelings of desolation, hope still springs eternal that relationships can be mended, business opportunities can be fruitful and honest, and our government will survive.

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” — Desmond Tutu

Families Feud

I have been thinking about families today. I have especially been thinking about families that are estranged from one another.

It makes me very sad when I see relationships broken up because of misunderstandings. I once knew a brother and sister in their middle adult years become enemies.  They started feuding because of money and homes being left to one and not to all. I do not know who was right or wrong in this case. Many years passed and the feud continued. Children of these adults were not allowed to have any relationship with their cousins. Family events came and went without these people and families being part of each others lives. Soon the brother was on his deathbed. He asked to see his sister. At that moment it didn’t matter who was right or wrong. It didn’t matter what was left to who. All that mattered was that it was time for healing.

The brother died and those cousins, the man.s great nephews that never knew him were the pall bearers.The sister wept about all those lost years. She couldn’t go back. The relationship was mended at the end but there wasn’t enough time left to create new memories.

Relationships are never easy. Forgiveness is never easy. We are a proud people. We always hurt those we love the most.  Why am I writing this? Another family I know is suffering from estrangement. Soon it may be too late.

Perhaps I am so passionate about this subject because I have no siblings to feud with. Of course I can’t understand the sibling relationship but what I want to say is that a solo life without your siblings is a lonely life.

Who else is there in this world besides your parents  that has shared your life since your birth? Who else shares your genes and your history? Who else resembles your parents so closely?.Who else could share the sibling rivalry?You may not always like your family but there is love possibly deeply buried in the heart.

I have heard the words “I have no regrets if I never make up with my family, with my mother, with my brothers and with my sisters.” I say to you: perhaps you don’t know yourself as well as you think and someday those words will be flung into space in sorrow.

When we cease to exist in this world all that will be left will be those feelings we leave behind. We may think the material things of this world that we leave those we love are all important but they aren’t. They can’t take it with them anymore than we can take our earthly riches with us. What we can take is the love of those we left behind and leave those we left behind our love.

We might not know it but under the non existant feelings we think we don’t have,  that love  is there somewhere hidden in our heart. It is hidden by our pride, our need to be right, and our selfishness. We all have those feelings. It is ok to feel what we are feeling but ask yourself when the end is near will you like the brother and sister in the story regret not forgiving each other sooner?

Time is all we have until we don’t.