Go Placidly

I'm not one to argue. I rarely, if ever, debate. Once, my high school speech and drama teacher enrolled me in a debate-style competition- one where you draw a topic, read up on it for about 30 minutes then talk to your audience about it for a minimum of 3 minutes. Anyone who has been around me for more than 3 minutes knows I can talk to a brick wall for that long before I realize it's not responding. BUT, put me on the spot...challenge my opinion about something... I will shut down faster than your teenager's computer when he's about to get caught on That Website. So there I was in small town Oklahoma... I drew my topic: The War On Drugs, read all of the Newsweek articles I could find about it (and there were tons), then stood in front of the judges talked for 30 seconds and could think of nothing else to say.

Over time, I learned a little more about getting articulated thoughts out of my head on command (but really- it's still a challenge for me, ammirite?). One of the things that has stuck around though is that lack of desire to do it. You wanna know what I think about The War On Drugs? I'm happy to talk with you about it in person. But there will be no attempt to convince you that what I think is right, because you have to decide right and wrong for yourself.

There have been many times someone has told me that I was wrong. There have been many times that someone wouldn't listen to what I had to say. There have been many times that I have been talked over. There have been times that I was accused of being ignorant and lazy. And I remained silent because that was where I found peace. Until recently.

"Go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence."

This quote from Desiderata has been on my mind a lot for the last two weeks. I've had lots of thoughts about it ranging from "what is peace?" to "is there a time where being placid is not ok?" I'm not sure I have an answer to either of those, at least not for the general public. But I finally have an answer for myself.

The next line in Desiderata reads, "as far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons."

Without surrender.

I always understood this line to mean don't surrender your beliefs for the sake of rapport, which, again contributed to my silence. But, digging deeper recently led to a new revelation. I know there's little chance I am going to change someone's mind in the heat of the moment, so I maintain that my silence for that purpose is acceptable. However, when my silence is surrendering my self worth, it is no longer ok.

There are a lot of topics with opposing view points and people are becoming angry that others don't see things their way. And I get that. I'm happy there are people in the world who are passionate enough about their beliefs that they will fight. The world definitely needs them. But, I know that I am not that person. I make every attempt to go placidly amid the noise and haste, recently surrendering in an effort to be on good terms. That surrendering was what led to this post.

Many of us hold deep beliefs and values, but aren't debaters. We often get mistaken for being uninformed, dumb, lazy or flippant. Sometimes, we are ok with letting people think that in the privacy of their own homes because it keeps them from trying to draw us into unwanted chaos. What we can't be ok with, though is letting them tell us those things to our face (or screen).Don't allow someone to tear you down because of your innate desire to avoid escalating things.

It is perfectly ok to avoid arguments in an effort to maintain your inner peace. But when the topic attacks your self worth, it's time to take a stand. That can be as simple as, "it's time for me to leave now", or it can be as complicated as removing yourself from a group or relationship. What may be perceived by others as the opposite of keeping the peace, could actually create a more peaceful world for you.

Take time to get to know yourself. Ask yourself the hard questions. Know what you believe and why, but don't assume you have to convince everyone else of it. Then, when someone begins pushing your boundaries, be confident enough to respond.

"You are a child of the universe. And no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."

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