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Character


Galien

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When I was a little girl my mother taught me two things. One was that just because I can do something, doesn't mean I should, the other was no lies ever, unless the situation was life threatening. That was a long time ago now, and I am just starting to understand how far away. My grandfather taught me in both word and deed that the content of one's character was the most important thing, and the constant honing of the conscience, to keep one completely honest with oneself at all times. I learned that no one is more important or better than anyone else by virtue of material possessions, or status, and that even if someone thought they were better they were just having themselves on. The Australian way of bringing anyone "up themselves" back down to the reality with the rest of us always worked well, still does. I learned to be kind to people and look after them, not glory in small victories, not to be petty, and to look after the weak in society. Not to hurt people just because I could, not to suck up to people with power or money or status because that was just, well, pathetic.

 

I always just naturally liked people, loved hearing their stories and getting to know them. Gave me an opportunity to live out the deep respect I had for people. By the time I was in Grade 2, I was pulling bullies off their victims, giving them a damn good talking too and asking them why they were being so stupid. I really had no idea why they would want to hurt anyone. What puzzled me even further were those who stood by and watched people be hurt and did nothing about it. How could they just stand there while that was happening and do nothing about it? Kids bulllied me and at times I just didn't go to school because although I found it easy to stand up for others, I would not stand up for myself. I spent more time in the park sitting with the drunks that I did at school in Grade 3.

 

I became a christian when I was nine at the time I was in a home for unwanted children. My family had broken up and my sister and I were sent away. I loved being a christian, gave a little girl with an already strong social conscience

an even stronger one. After the home I loved scripture at school, but I found it strange no one else behave in scripture class and no one really seemed to care about god.

 

I started to notice over time that other people thought and acted a lot differently from me. I was always worried about the kind of person I was, was I being kind to people, looking after them, building them up instead of tearing them down, encouraging them? I couldn't understand why other people seemed more interested in surface, shallow stuff. As a teenager while my friends were out dropping lsd, I was pleading with them to stop, when they got into cars with drunks, I refused to go. When they ran after the hot guys, I looked the other way because I worked out early the hot guys loved themselves and there was room for no one else.

 

More and more I was seeing a side of humans I did not like or understand. As much as I wanted to love everyone, at times \i found it hard when they were cruel or dismissive to me, as they often were in high school. Some of the boys were particularly cruel, pushing me over, or down stairs, spitting on me, kicking me and calling me a dog, telling me I was the ugliest girl in the world. But I still valued them the way I did myself because that is what people of character did. There was something wrong with them if they chose to act that way. Still hurt me though, rather a lot.

 

Years passed but I still believed that other people were as important as I was and should always be valued equally with myself. Society though was changing around me, the old ways were starting to be left behind, and sadly with them any interest in who we are as people. I still clung to what I had learned early though and although the outside world changed the christian world I lived in stayed the same for a long time, until I started to notice the same things in christians I was noticing in the world outside the church. As much as we thought we could hide from "the world", it was wrapping its clutches around the church too. Well that is what I thought was happening.

 

It wasn't until I had a huge falling out with the church that my eyes were finally opened. When the dust settled, and that took rather a long time, I looked around wide eyed at the reality of the world around me. I took off the blinders of my faith and regarded the world in all its glory. It wasn't good.

 

Amongst the smoking wreckage of my life there were bodies, and not too far away a deep black pit with a light twirl of smoke rising from it. I had vaguely known there was something unpleasant there but I had chosen just to stay away, believed that love could fight whatever it was that had given me vague uneasy feelings all my life. I knew in that bad place there were things beyond my understanding, beyond my comprehension. But I had to look. If being honest is everything, I had no choice. I didn't want to go anywhere near it but I was compelled by honesty, dragged by the necessity to confront the beast. So I did.

 

I crawled slowly up to the pit and peered in. Arising from its depths was a foul stinking fetid odour that made me gag. What I found was that thing people call human nature. I had never called it that because it wasn't my nature. In it I found the exact opposite of everything my mother and grandfather had ever taught me. I found hate, and fear, and deceit and love of small victories, and retribution and revenge and greed and pain and love of power over others and unkindness and stubborness and pride and self interest, and lies- oh the lies! - and all the misery all these things had caused on the earth. All my life I had believed if I cared enough and loved enough I could defeat this pit. No matter how much abuse, how much neglect, how much hurt, how much pain I could love my way out of it.

 

But I cannot. In my relatively short life of 52 years, the world has changed a lot. Now people don't really care about the content of their character, its about how they look how much money they have, who thinks they are cool. Now it is all revenge and who is right and who can I sue and who can I fuck over and how can I cover my own ass. I have finally come to terms with the fact that people prefer the pit over character or love and this world is all me,me,me. It causes me an ocean of pain, so much disappointment and disbelief it takes my breath away. Worse still, I am expected to just accept it all and not fight against this tidal wave of self interest when I loathe it to my core. It is anathema. The mountain of garbage spews out of the pit now all over me and there is nowhere to run and hide anymore. The stink is all over me and I cannot escape it. Not enough love in the universe to defeat that much filth. But people don't run, they laugh and let it rain down all over them and they enjoy it and think it makes them free, while it is an offense to my soul. There is nowhere left to go.

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Could it be, that after so long of keeping the red colored glasses on your nose, and basically not really dealing with the crows, you are now exposed to what you long distanced yourself from? It would be a very overwhelming, frightening, and repulsive experience to say the least. And I agree, things didn't seem this way in my youth, or even when I had cast off the trimmings of religious servitude.  There is a slowly, maliciously creeping weight of apathetic menace in the world. I do feel technology has a large part to play. It is so easy to be someone else online, and eventually, our own young learned that behavior and then found a way to take it to the streets, the media, and family circles. There is less need for one on one contact in this world and with that distancing comes lack of empathy.

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