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Saturday, October 10, 2020

The World Has Shifted

 “Do the best you can until you know better.  Then when you know better, do better.” -Maya Angelou

It’s a bumper sticker on my vehicle, but it’s more than that, too. 

For a variety of reasons, I have written and said precious little of consequence over the past few months.  To be honest, a great deal of my silence is simply due to my current position in life.  I’m a PhD student.  It’s exam year.  I am basically maxed out.  The other day, I told my kids I think I have crammed so much in my brain that it is starting to dump details that are no longer important or at least that are not vital in the given moment.  This life doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for engagement, and I’m OK with that, because I know it’s temporary. 

But there’s something I need to say now.  The world has shifted.

It’s certainly not the first time, and it won’t be the last.  If you know me, you know I like classic TV, and I can tell you that you need look no further than an episode or two of Leave it to Beaver, The Andy Griffith Show, Happy Days, The Brady Bunch, or Full House (whew… showing my age if that’s now a “classic”) to see how families and worldviews and entertainment choices and relationships have changed from decade to decade.  And while I would not recommend trying to emulate the cultures of any of those sitcoms, I do find them an interesting study.

Many years ago, when my oldest kids (now adults) were little kids, I can remember my dad saying, “Well, you’re not raising them like you were raised, but you’re doing a good job.”  Not long ago, I heard a sentiment (paraphrased) that you can’t raise your kids the same way you were raised, because the world is not the same world it was when you were growing up.  It’s true.  It’s all true.  In fact, the world shifted again between the early childhood days of my oldest two children and the early childhood days of my youngest three.  It’s almost as if I could physically feel it.  And now, it has shifted once more. 

I suspect that the years between major world changes are getting shorter.  I could speculate on why this is, but if I do, I’ll never finish this post, and it will end up in the scrap heap with so many other ideas that I have never shared.  For the purposes of today, I don’t care so much about why the world has shifted but that it has.

There are basically two things you can do when you feel the ground move beneath your feet.  You can adapt… or not.  Both choices come with consequences.  I love the Maya Angelou quote, because I think if offers a certain degree of grace to everyone involved. 

Do the best you can…

I want to believe that everyone (or, at least most everyone) is doing the best they can.  It’s really hard when that’s not enough.  But for the sake of charitable discourse, let’s hold back on that for a moment and extend the benefit of the doubt to human beings, assuming that we are, indeed, doing our best. 

Until you know better…     

This part is tricky, too, because it requires teachable hearts.  It requires us to take a good, hard, long look at the things we believe to be best and to accept that they might not be.

Then when you know better…

But I believe in the resiliency of the human spirit, and I believe we can learn and deconstruct and reconstruct and accept that sometimes we were wrong, even when it was the best we had to offer at that particular time.

Do Better…    

I often say, “We have to do better,” but I have recently come to realize that, actually, we don’t.  We don’t have to do better, but we really should.  We should at least try.

It’s really hard.  It’s hard enough to transform and evolve when the people with all the power dig their heels in.  It’s harder still when the people we love do the same.  I get it.  I’m over her playing this very dangerous game of survival, just like the rest of you, and it’s terrifying, because I don’t claim to know what that even looks like for the coming days.  But I desperately want to be on the side of history that does just a little better than yesterday.  And even though it is my deep desire and a strong temptation to drag others kicking and screaming along with me, I think I’m at a place where I have to look at them, doing the best they can, even if they don’t want to know better, and wish them well, as I adapt to the earth moving beneath my feet.  Let's not dig our heels in.  Let's soar.

L.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for these words, L. Always good to see your blog in my Feedly feed.

    ReplyDelete