Inside: How to gain some perspective when the hate-filled rhetoric overwhelms you – with a little help from a cat.
Last week, I read a controversial post on Facebook, and even though my brain screamed, “Don’t do it!” I looked at the comments. The first one was so offensive I had to scroll down to find something to restore my faith in humanity.
That’s a BIG FAT LIE.
My dry mouth, flushed cheeks, and increased heart rate gave the game away. I wasn’t searching for balance; I was looking for a fight.
Truthfully, I hoped to find more hate-filled comments to confirm my view that …
(take your pick) feminists | Christians | Democrats | liberals | atheists | pro-lifers | snowflakes | Republicans
(you choose) nasty | deplorable | evil | elitist | hypocrites | misogynists | entitled | racist | murderers.
The reward was the HIGH that comes from an unhealthy dose of self-righteousness.
But my conscience slapped me hard across the face.
I stared blankly at the screen and felt sad, tired, and empty.
I did it all over again the next day, and the day after, and the day after that.
But today, I found a way to see things more clearly.
We’re all products of our environment
For the first time in my life, I live in a town where my views are different from almost everyone around me.
This quote from C J Heck explains it:
We are all products of our environment; every person we meet, every new experience or adventure, every book we read, touches and changes us, making us the unique being we are.
Baseball games, Bible camp, and the Berenstain Bears are all alien to me. And I grew up in a place where the issues which are so hotly debated here aren’t even considered relevant. No wonder we don’t see eye to eye.
There’s no common ground.
We are more alike than unalike
But it recently dawned on me that the other mothers in our neighbourhood are just like me in one important way. We worry about our children.
- Will they get the education they need to reach their full potential?
- How can we protect them from getting sick or injured?
- What if they don’t make friends, or get bullied at school?
- Are they getting enough sleep, exercise, vegetables?
- Are they getting too much TV, game time, junk food?
It doesn’t matter which way we vote or our faith or how we choose to spend our money. We all worry about the same things when it comes to our children.
I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.
But even though I can see we’re not so different, I still get angry when their views are IN MY FACE.
They all saw something different
Today I had another revelation.
It starts …
“The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws …”
First, we see the cat through the eyes of a child:
As the cat moves through the book it’s seen by a dog, a fox, a fish, a mouse, a bee, a bird, a flea, a snake, a skunk, a worm, and a bat.
The worm and bat see the cat through its movements. Vibrations and echolocation shape their views. The snake sees in vibrant infra-red. While the colour-blind skunk sees everything in black and white.
Some of the animals regard the cat as prey. The fox sees it wild-eyed, fat-tailed and running scared.
Others see it as a predator, all teeth and claws, looming large.
This was the page when it all started to make sense. FEAR makes us see red. And fear fuels those hateful comments on Facebook. As well as my shameful reaction to them.
The stylized pictures wouldn’t stand up to close scrutiny from a scientist, yet the meaning is clear.
We all see the same cat differently. It’s a matter of perspective.
Gain some perspective
The last few pages showed me what I’ve been missing. A patchwork cat is made up of what the other creatures see.
Is this who WE truly are? Made up of how other people see us.
And the cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws, then it came to the water … and imagine what it saw?
On the final page, the cat sees its distorted image in the water’s reflection. So clever.
When was the last time you took a good look at yourself in the mirror? Is fear bringing out the best in you?
What if we’re ALL feeling the same way?
I scrolled through Facebook this morning ready to empathize with anyone who expressed strong opinions.
They’re probably as worried as I am.
Do you know what happened? I avoided the controversial posts altogether. My brain worked out that no good comes from staring blankly at a screen.
I also organized a date with friends to talk about what’s going on in the world. Their views are different from mine, but if it starts to get too heated we can always talk about our children instead.
Less stressed already.
In a turbulent world, They All Saw a Cat is a simple way to gain some perspective and balance.
I write about parenting problems and the picture books we used to solve them.
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I’d love to hear how you’re coping (or NOT coping) with so much change in the world. Drop me a line in the comment box below.