Friday, August 22, 2008


I wrote most of that last post over a month ago. Now our blog and our ("official") marriage are coming up on the one-year mark. And I think it's time for me to take a break.

I've always been an enthusiastic member of the internet generation--learned basic HTML at 13, started blogging at 18. I'm happy for the ways in which online communication has made it a lot easier to keep in touch with friends and family, near and far. If it weren't for the internet, I don't think Jacob and I would have met, although it may have been remotely possible.

But recently, my outlook has taken a turn. I'm feeling deeply disillusioned and unsettled by a feeling of online anomie. It isn't the result of a particular occurrence, but rather an accumulation of smaller experiences. And it's offline as well as online. For example: I often see car magnets proclaiming the message Choose Civility, which references a small movement in Howard County spurred by this book. Take a moment, if you have the time, to contemplate the need in our society for an entire book essentially explaining how to be nice to other people.

I am too often shocked and perplexed by the cruelty and abuse people are capable of inflicting upon each other. These days it's just been wearing on me too much. Governments around the world are starting wars, killing innocent people over money, resources and power. On the morning we left for the beach, a troubled and unstable gunman walked into the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church and opened fire, killing two people, injuring six, and leaving the rest of the congregation, the denomination and other well-meaning people everywhere asking, "Why?" How could this happen? How could anyone do such a thing?

I've found myself more affected by even the smallest displays of insensitivity--those not at all on the scale of the acts I just mentioned. The driver who leans on her horn the second the light turns green, not noticing that the car in front of her is waiting for a pedestrian to finish crossing. The man at a restaurant who doesn't bother to make eye contact with the waitress, speak to her in full sentences, or say "thank you." The girls on the playground who deliberately leave another girl out of their game for no reason, whispering, "just ignore her." People all over the internet who think that behind the shield of their computer screens, they can say whatever hurtful things they want, bend reality to their advantage, or make themselves out to be superior.

There's hope yet for the girls on the playground. The rest of us, I'm not sure about. I used to think that when you asked someone, "How are you?" they'd say something like, "Fine, thanks; how are you?" Now I'm learning not to expect that as much.

Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in Strength to Love that to contribute positively to the world, one must have both a tough mind and a tender heart, and that softmindedness and hardheartedness are equally detrimental to one's efforts in doing so. He wrote,

The hardhearted person never truly loves. He engages in a crass utilitarianism which values other people mainly according to their usefulness to him. He never experiences the beauty of friendship, because he is too cold to feel affection for another and is too self-centered to share another's joy and sorrow. He is an isolated island. No outpouring of love links him with the mainland of humanity.

I see hardheartedness everywhere I turn, and it drives me crazy, as I'm sure it must drive many of you crazy, too. I used to think that my persistent good will and tenderheartedness would be enough to make a dent while also giving me some sense of hope. But it hasn't, really, and I think it's not just all the hardheartedness that's giving me trouble. It's the combination of that and my own softmindedness. I'm smart enough to act toughminded some of the time, but toughmindedness ultimately isn't about intelligence. It's about focus, discretion, discipline and mental fortitude. With my mind weakened as it has been by the effects of MDD and ADHD, attaining those qualities has been a steep uphill struggle. And it's been hard to extend myself to love, and to accept love, without also being overly affected by my encouters with carelessness, selfishness, apathy and inhumanity.

So I think it's time for me to turn my energy elsewhere and continue working to build a tougher mind, more of a balance. I won't be writing here for the time being, and I won't be reading or commenting as much, either. As you may have noticed, Jacob hasn't been too psyched about blogging after typing on a computer all day, so it'll probably be pretty quiet around here.

I've let my social networking accounts go fallow as well. I might stick around on Freedom Gardens, since there's not much involved. Otherwise, I'll be on email or in the real world. I'd love to hear from you in any of those places.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.


Allie said...

I'll miss you! I love reading your blog!

Enjoy the hiatus!

Mama Monster said...


Allie said...

Hi! Just saw your blog title while browsing my reader and thought - oh yeah, I miss small red house - so I thought I'd say hi. Hope everything is going well with you.