Monday, July 21, 2008

Golden Rule... Harumph

I recently read Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an unwanted Chinese daughter by Adeline Yeh Mah.

The writing was not exceptional...but there were bits and pieces of the story that were touching, troubling and interesting from a cultural standpoint. One of the passages that stuck with me is towards the end of the book on page 269.

Her brother who was the closest thing she had to someone who ought to care for her (in her immediate family) was the type of person who always used the Chinese phrase for every situation "suan le" which means "who cares", "let it go", "whatever". He said this to her at the end of the book...

"Your problem Adeline, is that you're always transferring your own feelings and reasonings into others. You wanted to believe that we all shared your dream of a united family. In fact, no one cared except for you."

This is where it hit me. That's how I am. I have always carried this idealistic view that we should all like, and be kind to each other. I always think that because I want to feel accepted and appreciated ...that other people want to feel that way too. I mistakenly think that if I'm sincere and genuine that other's will be too. Ever since I was a child - I still think that when someone says, let's get together - they mean it...because I do. I'm wrong. Not everyone feels the way I do. That's where the Golden Rule... doesn't apply. "Do unto others as you would have other's do unto you." If that were true than it seems like we ought to ignore each other - because that's what people do. Don't bother smiling at people in the hallways, in passing... because people don't smile back. Don't bother bringing your favorite treats to people because - they don't do the same, nor do they ever go the extra mile to do something thoughtful for you - because let's face it - you're not even a blip on their thought radar.

Just because you want that ideal childhood and ideal life... doesn't mean anyone else gives a damn about it... most people in this world are like Adeline's brother... "suan le" neither hot nor cold - lukewarm, and dull as hell.

It's weird - this is something my fav Bishop from BYU would tell me... but I didn't understand it. In his own way he was telling me to lower my standards for people. Which is hard because I figure if I can meet my own expectations... being nothing brilliant - why can't everyone else? He also tried to impress upon me that not everyone knows the right, polite or kind thing to do. Most people don't have your best interests at heart...even if you have theirs. Which makes it hard to still remain positive when the majority of the population is not thoughtful, kind or generous. Most are running around insincere, insecure, jealous, petty and selfish.

I've discovered, only lately that it's not worth it. It's not worth my time to invest in people who are only going to disappoint me. So I'm focusing my energies on my little family and those few people who are like me. The ones who are real, giving, kind and thoughtful. Those are the people worth spending time with, and sharing my joys and fun with. The rest... they can stew in their own pity.

I'm done with the Golden Rule... done. It's done nothing but hurt me over the years. I'm foolish enough to think everyone else wants to follow it... because, it's so clear they're not...and if they're not, they're not worth it for me. I'm going to funnel all my energy into people who are worth it.


La Yen said...

One of the things I wish I had said to a family in my ward, but chickened out: "So, when you say 'drop by anytime' what does that mean to you? Because at our house it means ANYTIME. And I think at your house it means 'only when invited, and even then don't come over.'"

I think that we need to find a medium between the Golden Rule and loathingly apathetic. I haven't found it yet. And I would totally bring you snacks. And if I read to my child I would reciprocate with the Amazon orders. But what would I send your kids? Passions on DVD?

J. Max Wilson said...

Ouch! I know what you are feeling, but it still makes me sad. Don't give up completely on your idealism.

Sometimes I have a hard time getting out of my own head, and because of it I'm afraid that I come across as disinterested, impolite, or insincere. It doesn't mean I don't care. I'm just weak.


Be careful of defining yourself by using others as a mirror.

soybeanlover said...

Dunno what to say, but just want to send the love, and let you know that despite the huge amount of yuck in the world, and a lot of people being jerks, good people will always stand out. No one may say it to your face, which is silly, but seeing you being a good example, no matter what they actually believe, will make an impact on others. One can hope that people will change/reciprocate, but know that change takes a LONG time. Pam told me something one of her Bishop's told her when she was dealing with a PSYCHO roommate, we need to remember that not everyone has the same experiences in this world, but also remember that we came from the pre-existence at different levels of spirituality/kindness/sanity/etc. depending on what we learned and experienced there as well. We each have things we are good at and bad at. You're good at being generous, kind and open(for starters), while someone else may be good at whatever Paris Hilton and crew are good at(and no it is not looking good or singing).

Though on bad days I just remind myself that karma really does work, and jerks get bit on the butt in the end.

Queen Scarlett said...

I'm in this ... annoyed phase with a lot of people in my ward. I always get annoyed when we have lessons about how great we are compared to (cue scary music) "the world". I' mean... enough with pretenses - we aren't much diff't from anyone else - stop pretending - be real.

La Yen - you crack me up - you are not one of "those" people. Trust me.

Jon - I don't see you that way - stuck in your head - you're one of the most genuine people I know. Totally respect you. And... yes - you are right ... I'm not letting them define much as I'm not including them in my life... or my peripheral vision anymore. hehehe how's that for good rationalization.

soybeanlover - that's why I'm done putting effort into people who aren't. I've found people who are genuine and they're the ones I'm going to give my energy towards. Karma... I wonder about that sometimes. ;-)