Monday, July 31, 2006

Are we connected?

Well, I haven’t written since I got back from Thailand. I don’t know if anyone out there is really reading anymore but I thought I’d put something down. I know there’s a few.

I started my “myspace” account to help me keep in touch with people. “myspace” is a good idea. I think it’s an idea that’s dying...still really popular but it has been bought by a corporation and has that feel of big business trying to cash in on cool. Like the kids who buy the Ramones t-shirts at “hot topic” in the mall and do not own a Ramones album or even are really familiar with their music. I feel like the curve has arced and myspace will go down.

These ads get really annoying for one. I know they have to sell ad space but how many times do I have to be asked if I like naughty or nice? And pictures of scantily clad women, showing cleavage with a vacant look in their eyes do not appeal. It’s getting old. So I don’t check my “myspace” too often.

Then there’s the issue of being able to see the real lives of people I know. The internet is funny. I know people that are so open...wide open online and can barely talk to you in person. I just read a blog from a friend that was so deeply intimate and personal yet face to face, they can hardly look you in the eye. This can’t be right.

I can’t help but think that all these ways of keeping in touch has or will only serve to lead us farther away from real relationships. It seems like people don’t know how to talk to one another anymore. Our culture is a bit absurd. Heavy doses of sarcastic humor only serve to drive us away from one another. I feel like many of us have forgotten how to be human.

Have we forgotten how to look someone in the eye? To say “Hello”? To say “sir” or “mam”? A couple of week ago while working out in the community I called someone “sir”. His friend laughed out loud at me and told me it was ridiculous to call him sir. I was stunned!

I know I’m a blessed son of a dying breed. I don’t take it lightly that many did not or do not grow up with the blessings I had. I had the great privilege of growing up in a home with Christian father taught me to look people in the eye. He taught me the value and art of knowing how to speak to people. He taught me that all people have dignity. It the same thing I’m working on with my sons.

Some kids I know, all they hear is coarse, vulgar or sarcastic language. Or we puff up and hold the rest of the world in an egocentric view...everyone besides us and our little circle is stupid and a joke. No fathers to teach or dumb ones that abuse with language or worse leads to a generation that seeks comfort in like associations (not real relationships) and pain killers like alcohol, drugs and non-committed sex. We are a generation that speaks about emotions we don’t even know if we feel or not. We regurgitate trite emotional language that we hear on TV hoping that we’re not missing life. We are.

My life and family are not perfect. I am not on a high horse here. We’ve struggled and gotten it wrong. We’ve been short sighted and hurtful. We have missed the mark. My life is not free of pain. We have been through sickness, rocky finances, bad decisions and death. We have been angry and misunderstanding. But we have held on.

Whatever your circumstance, you do not have to live and act beneath it. You can live and find your way with dignity. Can we let go of “put down” humor and over sarcastic attitudes? Can we find a way to work hard where we are serve and do a good job, the best we know how to do? In humility, can we admit that there are still things we need to learn? What about practice...can we handle not being good at something and take on the discipline of practice to get better and see progress? Can we try new things that make us vulnerable? Can we afford to not look cool? Can we be silly and have fun without hurting others and ourselves? Can we say “I’m sorry, I was wrong, I love you.”? Can we shut up and be interested in others? Yes, we can...we just have to drop our pride. And even all this “I’m so weak and tragic” stuff is pride. False humility is pride. Turning the focus on you is pride.

My father was an elementary and university teacher and a piano player. My mother was a secretary. My grandfather was a farmer and iron worker and my grandmother was a homemaker and a good southern cook. They were not great people. But they knew and practiced great things. Can I pass the good advise I know on to you?

From my Dad...look people in the eye and speak up. Speak to them with respect. Give them your eyes and be interested in them. Listen. Give.

From my Mom...if you’re going to do something, do it right or do not do it at all. When you find out you’re aggravating someone, stop. Sacrifice.

From my hard, be faithful, do not give up. Speak to strangers, be friendly, make children happy, enjoy right now.

From my unconditionally. Serve. Learn the old ways. Read the Bible and pray early in the morning.

This is my inheritance, I pray I live it well.