Posts Tagged With: confession

Conditional Pity


Here’s a confession…

As I hear more and more about police shootings and other types of violence against youth, I sometimes find myself sliding frighteningly close to the edge of CONDITIONAL PITY. See, CONDITIONAL PITY occurs when an individual or group feels sorry for what has happened to someone else, but believes that, to some degree, the victim was simply at the wrong place, or with the wrong people, or doing the wrong thing. And that somehow, if maybe they’d been in the right place, or with the right people, or doing the right thing, this tragedy could’ve been avoided.

I admit that I’ve fallen into that mindset on occasion. I’ve had to actively steer my thinking away from trying to make some sense out of violence that is in many instances all too often a senseless act. Perhaps the reason this happens is because to do so provides us with a false sense of security. Unfortunately, to rationalize the behavior of a criminal in hopes of protecting yourself from becoming a victim as well, not only trivializes the situation, but demeans the victim, and offers no real opportunity for commiseration.

Perhaps the biggest fallacy of CONDITIONAL PITY is that as long as you (or I) relegate victims to that space, you are using victim blaming to effectively convince yourself that it could never happen to you because, you know… you avoid those types of people/places/scenarios, right?

Wrong.

It’s been 11 years sense my nephew was gunned down in a drive by shooting. He was in a car, in the driveway with his cousins, preparing to go to the movies. He wasn’t in the wrong place, or with the wrong people. He was targeted for no reason that he himself could’ve changed or avoided.

I still think about him.

And it still hurts.

It’s only when we allow ourselves to recognize and acknowledge the innocence of these victims, that we can then understand and accept that no one, myself included, is truly safe. Because, as much as we’d like to think otherwise, the world is not safe. And that reality scares people. I understand that. I get scared sometimes too. But CONDITIONAL PITY is not the answer.

Instead, let us use this truth as a call to action. Safety begins at the moment of clear perception. It’s when we decide that participation is more important than observation. Be more than a spectator. In the moment one person decides to move forward, everything around them is changed. How much more so when 100 people decide to move, or 1000?

So I’m moving forward. Maybe in seeing me move, 99 others will be inspired to join me. Maybe if you move, you’ll inspire 999 others. Wouldn’t that be worth the effort? Shouldn’t it?

Opinions welcome.

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Categories: commentary, opinion, personal, relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Voices


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“You’re such a mean dad!”I usually hear this one after I discipline my children.

Your wife is miserable!”I hear this one mostly on the days when I see how overwhelmed my wife can become with managing a household that includes four children under 8 and two over 16.

“You are a failure!”I hear this one frequently. Either when I reflect on unmet educational goals or unwritten books and songs that are begging to get out of my head.

“People don’t like you. They think you’re weird and anti-social.”Well, if you’ve read “The Struggle With Hugs” last year, you’ll understand this one.

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Yes, these are the voices in my head. No, not the “OMG, I’m hearing things!” crazy kind of voices. But rather the very distinct voices that narrate various parts of and events in my life. Like uninvited guests to my parade of memories.

They are altogether unrepentant, distorted versions of my own voice that cast verdicts from the sidelines like a mental peanut gallery.

This is probably the result of the fact that I have a tendency to fall into over thinking or over analyzing situations and people. As soon as I dedicate any mind power to introspection, here come the snickering voices that want to judge my past or recent actions against society’s definition of success.

Sometimes it seems as if they simply want to pull me toward despair. Encouraging depression and pessimist behavior. Or pushing me toward isolation and episodes of social awkwardness.

But I resist.

I push back at them by encouraging myself with what I know to be true. I am loved by my wife and children. I am appreciated and respected by my peers. I pursue honor and integrity and support others in their pursuit of health and happiness.

Of course there are days when my exhaustion makes the effort to resist seem ten times harder. But I’m not given over to pity parties. Besides, there’s yet another voice that likes to shout things like, “No one wants to hear about your stupid issues, Mr. Happily Married with 6 beautiful kids!”.  I just ignore it, realizing that if I decide to stuff down those thoughts instead of purging them, I will become the worst version of myself.

So this is my release.

My confession.

Admitting that I struggle against the naysayers from within more so than I ever did against those from without. Yet, I strive to be a daily overcomer. One who acknowledges the challenges while doing everything necessary to overcome them.

It makes us human and ultimately, makes our victories so much sweeter.

What do some of YOUR voices say to you? How do you quiet them?

VoicesInHead

Categories: personal, stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Don’t Ask Me How I Am


Here’s a confession… there is one question, above all other questions, that I despise most in this world. That question is, “How are you?”.

Know why?

Because people who ask this question usually fall into one of two categories:

1) They are people who don’t really care AT ALL how I’m doing. They simply ask because it’s their default introductory question. The social hurdle they must clear before getting to what they REALLY want to talk about, or the first in a series of questions they’d like to ask.

2) They are people who probably really want to know how I’m doing, but would prefer the abridged version because they just don’t have the time necessary to sit and hear me go into detail about the context and content of my complex emotional state.

And I hate it.

I hate fumbling about in a vain attempt to answer that irksome question to the satisfaction of either of these two kinds of people.

I hate it because I’m NOT that guy. I mean, I am A guy. But I’m not THAT guy… the one who will tell you how I am, when it’s obvious you don’t really care to know. I’m not interested in summarizing the content of my head and heart just to satisfy your short attention span, or relieve you of any residual heaviness the truth of “how I am” might bring you.

That might be someone else’s M.O., but it’s not mine.

My life is full.

It’s busy and it’s complicated and it’s hectic and it’s thriving and it’s awesome and it’s overwhelming and it’s gratifying and it’s exhausting… and it’s beautiful.

These are not things so easily consolidated into a brief prepared statement that creates no lingering emotional maze for you to navigate. If you dare climb aboard the roller coaster that is my life, you must be prepared for all the dips, turns and loops that come with it.

The kicker is that to a degree, I kind of get it. I mean, most men are not very expressive or in touch with their feelings. Unfortunately for some, I am both. I mean, I completely understand the terse kind of responses a “how are you?” would typically elicit. I’m just wired differently.

If you REALLY want to know how I am, at least give me the courtesy of stifling your look of impatience and apathy. Realize that there are times when I desperately NEED to tell someone how I am. I need to unload some of these mental and emotional weights. We all do at some point. If for no other reason that to position ourselves to start shouldering the next crate of life events arriving daily… non-stop… whether or not you’re prepared for them.

In that regard, I am no different.

So when I ask you, “How are you?”, just know that I genuinely want to know. I’m ready to ride that convoluted roller coaster you call life.

My question is… are YOU?

Categories: opinion, personal | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

DOVE CONFESSION: I’m Not A Phone Person


In order to rid myself of the growing frustration associated with what I have come to describe as “Telephonic Aversion Disorder” or TAD for short, I am confessing this to all of you: I don’t like talking on the phone. Now that may not seem like a big deal, but as it turns out, there are people who find this bizarre, disturbing or even selfish.

All I can say is that I find the phone to be a necessary distraction at best. I only make or receive phone calls when absolutely necessary. I even avoid it when it IS necessary. *sigh* I know. It’s bad. I admit. But in my defense, I think it’s a result of the PTSD caused by horrible voice mails and phone interactions with HOWie over the years. There were times when I’d hear the phone ring and immediately my heart would start racing, my face would flush and my breathing would kick up a notch. I’ve since learned to manage that anxiety. But I think there are some lingering effects still present.

It’s not that I despise talking on the phone per se. As a matter of fact, I used to be quite the charmer on the phone. In high school, I would regularly spin tales of neighborhood circumstances to my friends and relatives, or regale attractive female classmates with my growing wit and vocabulary. Before we got married, I would often talk to my (now) wife on the phone for hours and hours. There would even be days when we’d fall asleep on the phone. It was a wonderful time.

But now… the less time I spend on the phone, the better. Save for the occasional rant over a bill dispute or internet outage, I still reluctantly take calls. Most times I’ll let it go to voicemail and just check the message to see if it’s urgent. With the exception of my wife. I take EVERY. SINGLE. CALL. she makes. There is never a time when I won’t accept her call. She is me. So it would be like ignoring a call from myself.

Anyway, if you ever call me and I don’t answer, don’t take it personally. I have a real aversion to the phone that has nothing to do with you. Unless it does. lol I’m kidding.

Categories: personal, stories | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

People Watching


In support of my referentially unsubstantiated, but scientifically plausible belief that confession is the first step toward recovery, I’d like to say this:

My name is Riis, and I’m a People Watcher.
(sounds kind of dirty, doesn’t it? )

Wait, wait, wait. It’s not that I think People Watching is anything to be ashamed or cured of. It’s just that maybe some things are perhaps not as socially acceptable to confess? Maybe? Perhaps? Now that I think of it, I wonder if more people are this way than are willing to admit here online. Hmm… whatever. I don’t mind being the first.

At any given time while I’m driving (and of course, paying VERY close attention to the road), I will see people at intersections waiting to cross the street, a drove of teenagers walking to school… while texting, an older Hispanic man with a bicycle-cart carrying groceries or paint supplies or Vote Obama lawn signs (true story), or two young guys criss-crossing each other on skateboards heading toward the park.

What I find fascinating is that I’m starting to see design patterns in regard to people and how they look. You know, common physical traits that group people together in what could easily be labeled a body-fashion template. I can’t tell you how many pale, young women of varying body sizes I’ve seen who all have dark, shoulder-length curly hair and seem to shop at the same clothing store. I’ve also come to believe that this one lanky, goth teen boy with glittery, dark purple hair who was crossing the parking lot of El Camino College just moments before I saw him eating a hot dog at the outside table of a Wienerschnitzel, can fly or teleport. It’s the only explanation that works right now. :-/

Anyway, I think people watching is what drives some people to photo-stalking. Not that I’VE done that, but I can understand that curiosity often spurs peculiar behavior. Like having an increase of random people send me friend requests after posting fitness photos on some of my recent posts. o_O They’re just people watching, right?

So… anybody else people watch?

Categories: commentary, humor, personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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