January 16, 2015, Prescott- As far back as I can remember, two themes have defined my life: Love of females and honesty. Perhaps because my mother, grandmothers and aunts were there for me, even when Dad had to work the graveyard shift in order to put food on the table, I have felt a closeness to girls and women- besides which, I started getting physically drawn to the opposite gender around age eight. Females, being human though, are not always right, and can be underhanded, and brutal, when they feel insecure. So can men-being human. I’ve been furious with girls, less so with grown women, but underneath there is a very deep core of love.
Honesty has been my friend, also, though it has frequently gotten me in trouble, and a few times, almost killed. Life in a New England mill town, with neighbourhoods set against one another, and towns versus the burgs next door. frequently gets dicey. I have, plenty of times, spoken truth to power. Power that is not sure of itself strikes out violently, or runs and hides. The insecure powerful, back in the day, would knock the stuffing out of those who came out against them. Those for whom I had genuine respect, though, came back, stated their case in a direct, forceful manner and left it to us to learn the hard lessons of life. My father, the better among my teachers, Coach Wall and one of the best bosses I ever had, Bob Powers, were people of power. They were not, for the most part, people of violence and handled whatever insecurities they had, in a way that cemented the respect others had for them.
I haven’t considered myself a victim, very often. When I have indulged my weaker self, there has always been someone dear to me- my wife, our son, one of my brothers, my father-in-law- to set me straight, usually in a voice I would myself use with someone who was in a shaky place. The fact is, when I have felt the world turning against me, it’s because I have shut some part of it out and become adamant and intransigent about considering other points of view. My brother pointed out to me, the last time that happened, in 2009, that it was doing nothing to help me obtain what I said I wanted in life: A better situation for my family, for my increasingly frail wife and our young adult son.
That’s the thing about conflict- there are no real winners, only victims who savage one another and create more victims in their wake. We all have differences, AND we all have similarities. We can dwell on the one, and stay off balance, or we can focus on the other, and build bonds. The key is listening, with both ears followed by action, with heart and mind working in sync. No one can force another to “do what is right”, but if doing things a certain way brings only further distress and misery- then that becomes the person’s Ben Franklin moment, and the old sage’s definition of insanity flickers in the mind. Honesty, as brutal as it can be, is chemotherapy for the cancer of conflict. One need not be a victim or, as Glenn Frey once put it, a prisoner “here, of our own device”.
I will not shy away from tongue lashings, people in my face or any form of disagreement. I’ve learned as much, or more, from my critics as I have from trusted friends, over the years. I expect to be heard by them, as well, though. We are all in a place of growth, all in a place where we can falter and all in a place where we can triumph. Victim or champion, the choice falls to each of us. Thanks for reading, and listening.