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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Bad decisions and shaming

"Make this world a better place, if you can."
Its always been a great song, and we have all heard it thousands of times. It's very inspirational, and for me, that line has stuck in my head for years. The song is not called that, but that is what registers for me.
I'd like to think that I do that, in my own little way. Sure, I have my faults, have done some bad things and things I might regret, or even wish to have a do-over, but mostly, I aim to help people and make their lives better if I can.
Ah, there is the rub. can.
It just seems some people can't. Why is that?
I suppose there is a host of reasons, but mostly, in my view  it's probably one of two things.
Either they simply don't care or want to make it a better place, in which case, there probably isn't much hope for them...or...
They want to but aren't capable.  Those are the people we really feel sorry for. The type that are their own worst enemy. They just can't help themselves, and so, cannot help others. Every move they make is the wrong one. It's a good decision they can't make. They make the bad decisions easily and repeatedly, but the good decisions are beyond their reach.
The question is: Why? Why can't these people make good decisions? I will pontificate in this blog about that issue. 

It was Grade 6.  At that point in my life, baseball was my life. I lived to watch it, play it and listen to the games when I couldn't actually make it to the stadium. Of course, I was also only 11, so I had to go to school everyday. But I didn't really care about school or have any interest in it. I did okay, but that was only because I had more than enough natural ability to get by on just that, and for a long time, that seemed to work. But not on this day.
On that day, we were to write a short story and bring it in the next day. What I didn't know was that the teacher was going to make one or two students read out their story to the class. 

We were to write the short story the night before, and I probably was listening to the ballgame instead and couldn't be bothered writing up a story. So, a few minutes before class the next day, I wrote one up really fast. It was probably really bad. I don't know. I don't remember. But even if it wasn't, it was a bad decision. I should have suffered for that decision, and I did. And I certainly suffered enough that day to remember that experience to this day.
In life, many times we get away with just such a thing. It's probably better that we don't. That day, I suppose I could have lucked out and not been the one or two people the teacher picked to read out their story in front of the class.  I wasn't. He picked me, and I had to read it. I don't even remember if I thought it was that bad, but the class was laughing at me. That I do remember.  I got what was coming to me and what I deserved. It was a lesson that served me well the rest of my life. Certainly not the only time I made a bad decision from that point forward, but I am at least mindful that there are consequences to actions and reasons to do certain things and respect others. More about that shortly. 

When I was done reading my story, I remember the teacher saying something to me I've never forgotten.
"What, you think you are going to get by on your good looks"
I thought it was an odd thing to say to me. I just looked at him in a puzzled way. At this point, I don't think I even realized what a bad decision I'd made by trying to "just get by on my talent." First off, it never even occurred to me. Secondly, I didn't think I was that good looking, and even if I was, I didn't care or aim to use it for any benefit. And it's funny, because over time, I've heard it said to me so often. In any event, I've never considered it an asset, even if it is an actual asset.
What did I learn that day? We all make bad decisions. Some of us grow from that, others never do. Especially if you believe the hype---that how you look and what you can gain from that is of a benefit to you. It is not. It will make you a weaker person and in the end, will hurt you more than help you. In my case, I tried to get by on my natural talent and not do the work, and that was the point the teacher was making. Whether it was good looks, or excessive talent, it didn't justify not doing the work that the rest of the kids had done. I got what was coming to me, and if I had been lucky enough to not be picked to read my story, then I would have gotten that lesson at some point, based on the law of averages that good luck will always run out.

When you rely on your looks or raw talent to get you everything you have in life, obviously, you can get away without developing the life skills that the rest of us need, and learn to develop over time, to make your way. The offshoot of that is that you never gain those, and it will come back to bite you at some point, when you make bad decisions.

That brings me to the impetus for writing this blog. Unless you have been under a rock, you are aware of this story. 

Before I get to Dani Mathers, I want to share an experience that a friend had and my response to her on her Facebook page. 

Above is her post. Its pretty self explanatory as to what happened.
It is no secret Heather has been very heavy in the past, had lost much of that weight, and gained some of it back in the last year or so due to stressful life situations. In this instance, a cashier attempted to "fat shame" her. It's relevant today as the weeks events unfolded and the Dani Mathers incident is now blasted all over the internet. Blasted for good reason I might add. 
Below is my response on her thread. Obviously, I am pretty direct when I need to be, and not everyone would say the things I would the way I would say them. But, it needed to be said, much like the teacher needed to embarrass me in front of the class in Grade 6.

Something I've also learned over time is that nobody shames you. Unless you internalize their insult, which is all that shaming intends to do (insult you), and let them. Nobody can body shame you or me and I don't think that really exists. We all know how we look--or how smart we are--and what others say about that doesn't matter, even if it is true. Are you fat? Maybe. But that doesn't mean you don't get to do the things you want to, eat what you want to, wear what you want to. And nobody gets to say hurtful things to you or about you.  If they do, its a license and open season to give it right back to them, and not hold back. They are asking for that wrath.
No, they are begging for it.
And in some ways, you are doing them a favor. You are letting them know they are making a bad decision by even attempting it, and hopefully they will learn the lesson that they never did before. Maybe not. Maybe they wont. Maybe they will just keep doing it. But at least you did the right thing. And maybe somebody around you will see that  and stop doing it if its something they do. Or maybe somebody around you will see it and speak up next time if its done to them. In that way, you are making the world a better place, because you can. You have that power if you choose to use it.
That is mainly how we make the world a better place. We can respond, and set an example to others about bad behavior, good decisions and the consequences of saying things or doing things you should not do. 

So, what happened with Dani Mathers? In my opinion, she is someone who got away with never having to make good decisions and probably never got any wrath for the bad ones. Until this week. She is in her late 20s, but in reality, she is mentally about a 10 year old. She hasn't learned how life works because when you are 10, you don't really have to. She is just very immature, and she figured she could act like a child and attempt to shame another person, and in the process, break laws and act immorally. She did that because of her very good looks and great body, she could get away with that, probably since she hit puberty.
The real shame is that these people (Dani Mathers and the cashier and many people we all know)  never learned right from wrong and to make good decisions. We all make bad decisions in our life, but we aim to grow from them. If you are in your late 20's and taking a pic of a naked woman in a shower in a public place, without their consent, and then blasting it all over the internet, you simply never learned to make good decisions.
Can this mistake be overcome by Dani Mathers? Sure it can. She can make a full apology, take whatever punishment is coming to her (willingly) and then aim to learn from it all and do better. If she does all that, I think she can be forgiven. But the first step is truly understanding what she did, owning it, and learning from it.
As of now, from what I've seen of her "apology" she doesn't get what she did. Its not that she accidentally blasted it all over the net and social media, if you even believe that. Most of us don't. But even if that is actually the case,  and she just meant to share it with one friend in private,  it is that she took the pic in the first place, invaded someones privacy, broke the law, and was attempting to shame that person in the first place. Even if she only was attempting to send it to one friend and it never sees the light of day, her mistake was thinking she has the moral and legal right to do that. She does not. That was her bad decision. She attaches her obvious good looks to rights she has that she actually does not have. I would venture a guess she has been able to use those looks to avoid learning the harsh lesson she just got dished out for a very long time.
In her apology, she mentions she didn't intend for anyone but her one friend to see that pic. She doesn't apologize for taking the pic or invading someones privacy for the purpose of mocking them. She doesn't even get the bad decision she made. She needs to own up to that part, and mean it.
If she doesn't do all of that, its really a shame for her. Everyone else will move on with their lives. She will be stuck in Grade 6 her whole life.
I will end where I started. With the song.

We can change things if we start giving
Why don't you?

If you see an old friend on the street
And he's down
Remember his shoes could fit your feet
(Just try)
Try a little kindness you'll see
It's something that comes very naturally
We can change things if we start giving.
 Why don't you
Reach out and touch
Why don't you (Why don't you)
Reach out and touch somebody's hand

Reach out and touch
Somebody's hand
Make this world a better place
If you can

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Daily profile about a specific artist,their life, their work and their impact