This Isn’t Everything You Are

There are certain situations in life that are guaranteed to make people feel embarrassed or humiliated.  Having one’s private business end up under the harsh glare of the camera and becoming the punch line of endless jokes, finding oneself in court facing a stern judge:  all of these are situations that people find extremely uncomfortable.  Little children seem not to think of a courthouse as a particularly unpleasant place, but by the time someone is school age, especially if someone is in high school or is an adult, there is often a sense of serious discomfort in finding oneself present in such a situation [1].  Though my own experiences in court are rather limited, I have been involved on the side of the court quite often, starting from my teenage years, so far completely in the realm of family or juvenile court.  As the witness of some of the most uncomfortable days that other people have to go through, it is important to remember that what one sees of others in such awkward and uncomfortable and unpleasant moments isn’t everything that others are, just likely the worst parts of what most people are better able to keep hidden.

In Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride & Prejudice, one of the manifestations of his personality that helps the reader (and Elizabeth Bennet) to have a negative view of him takes place when Elizabeth has gone to nurse her sick sister at Netherfield, he states rather imperiously that his good opinion, once lost, is lost forever.  Of course, he learns a lesson not to misjudge others when he finds himself gradually attracted to the high spirited and witty Miss Bennet.  There are many people, though, in this world, who are quick to knock someone down in their book for mistakes and errors and misjudgments, and never give others the chance to wipe the slate clean or start again, but rather hold things over others for all time.  It is important to remember that we all have bad days, and we all have weaknesses, and that none of us want our worst days held against us for all time.  It is important in our institutions and in our lives that we allow the chance for a periodic reset button, so that someone does not have to bear the burden of error and folly forever, but has the chance to establish a better reputation and to recover the honor of one’s name.  It is also of vital importance that we take the time to investigate a matter before we think or speak evil of someone, but we could all stand to be slower to judge others, and more willing to let a matter reveal itself over the course of time.

It is difficult to truly recognize how broken the world around us and its institutions are.  We live driven by fear and insecurity rather than love and outgoing concern.  The brokenness of our world and the people in it leads to overcompensation that is hard to recognize for what it is.  It is difficult for us to fully grasp that people are bullies and abusive not because they are strong, but because they are weak, because they may have physical strength but lack confidence and self-control.  Strong leaders are not threatened by the strength and wisdom and intellect of others.  Weak people in positions of authority are threatened because the strength of others is a threat, as such people are thought to be rivals for office, and possibly better in those offices.  It is hard to make other people feel safe and secure—I know this problem very well both because I have had a terribly difficult time making other people feel safe and secure and also because I do not easily feel safe or secure myself.  Many people share the same sort of history and the same sort of reasons.  It is important to remember that the external appearance of strength and mastery isn’t everything that is present in someone, for the aggressive quest for dominance is an indication of weakness, insecurity, and fragility, even if those who seek to dominate are the last people who would be willing to admit it.

Last night I did not sleep a wink.  This happens from time to time, and I always feel as if the problem is overdetermined [2].  Start with a mind that is far too overactive with far too much to ponder and reflect upon, having just finished writing a report dealing with issues of PTSD and child abuse, issues that I really should not write about at night, but often do because that is some of the prime time I have to write in a busy life.  With a mind that was having trouble calming down of its own accord, my neighbors decided that the middle of the night was a great time to move furniture around in the room right above me, which made me feel even more jittery and anxious.  By the time it was about 1:30 or 2AM I had given up on sleep for the night and decided to finish reading a book on the Domesday Book, and then I wrote two book reviews and two posts that deal with the books for later this week when I will return home late and not have the time to do much writing.  By the time I was done with the reading and with the four posts and with some Bible reading, it was about six in the morning, time to shower and get ready for work.  Given my tendency to have nightmares about people involved in endless and unresolved drama and my difficulties at time to sleep at all, it is hard to know whether I should be frustrated at my extreme sensitivity and anxiety or grateful that I have the ability to cope so well that most people would never realize the full extent that I am a tormented soul on a regular basis.  This sort of continual burden isn’t everything I am, but it makes life far more of a chore than it ought to be.

[1] See, for example:

[2] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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6 Responses to This Isn’t Everything You Are

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