Rant: A Certain “Missionary Position” Facebook Meme Is Not Funny

Over on Facebook, there is a cruel meme going around referring to the missionary (or missionary-leaning) man who was recently shot dead with arrows by member(s) of an isolated indigenous island tribe off the coast of India. While I do indeed agree that his actions were not thought out and that he had no right to barge into the territory of a protected tribe of people who were innocently minding their own business as they went about their lives, I find it in very poor taste to mock his death.  Posting a picture of a man with arrows in his back with the accompanying description “Missionary Position” is tasteless mockery, yet it has been reposted by people who know better.  Doing this only adds ammunition to the ongoing polarization between us and those who mock so many other kinds of lives lost, lives who most, if not all, of my friends over on Facebook say they value, be they those of trans people, gays and lesbians, Muslims, Jews, Native Americans, Black people, other peoples of color, and so on.

I’m not a Christian, but I know many wonderful Christians, including those who would not sanction this recently deceased man’s ignorant behavior, even though, in his own mind, I think it was actually well-meaning. (Please consider that possibility, and think of “forgiving our trespasses,” as part of a worthwhile Christian prayer goes.) Problematic evangelicals who do support what this man did and seek “justice” against the tribe will only martyr the man and themselves in their cause, drawing justification from being antagonized by anyone mocking his death. Do you like being antagonized? I suspect not. Let’s try and step away from such a protracted, pointless fight by not stooping to the same low level of those we deeply don’t agree with and perhaps don’t even like. Burning Pagans back in ancient times didn’t somehow get made better by burning Protestants, Jews, or Catholics, or whoever else.

I don’t find actual, real-life violence against another person funny, certainly not when it leads to death, no matter how much I may not like the individual. And this dead individual has been duly labeled by others as acting from a place of hubris and arrogance, among other negative adjectives. Yes, and be that as it may, I have no doubt he had positive qualities as a human being, another member of the human race like the rest of us. Let the judgments of him and his harsh fate be enough, then leave the matter be. He has a surviving family, I’m sure.

Let’s please consider not mocking the death of any other human, even if the incident occurred from an act of self defense. I love humanity as much as whole segments of it frustrate and anger me, as I know it does for so many others, including those reading this. I will not intentionally, consciously laugh at the killing of another. Let’s not participate in dehumanization, please. Others who anger us already do far too much of that. We know and can do better.

Trust the Sense of Fit or Lack Thereof

While in graduate school and then at an agency for many years after that, I don’t recall hearing the clear message: “You don’t have to work with a client if you don’t want to.” There was no consistent conveyance of trust and acceptance that we grad. students, and then new mental health professionals, already were open to working with most clients that came our way.

No matter the mental health professional, there will always be a few certain clients that simply are not a good fit. And this is not a reflection of some concerning shortcoming of who one is as a professional. Period. That should be understood and clearly affirmed by professors and supervisors alike.

Brief Thoughts on Narcissism

Narcissism messes with my head and drains me of energy more than any other presentation of perspective and sets of behaviors. It’s like I can smell it a mile off and feel the urge to run the other way. Being around this phenomenon emitted by an occasional few promptly irritates me, almost like an allergy.

I find it challenging to lead with compassion for those suffering from this problem, and narcissism truly is a problem. It continues to be one of those unpleasant life teachers for me now and again, though the current U.S. “president” forces me to endure more frequent exposures to these unsavory teachings or lessons.

One clear lesson I’m still grappling with is, when directly faced with narcissism, first reminding myself that I am a vessel of compassion and curiosity. For, too easily, in moments of fluster and irritation with the narcissist, I often forget.

Victimhood No Longer

A primary aspect of healing is when one comes to the understanding that, no, you weren’t somehow crazy or wrong, but, just the opposite. Your perceptions and feelings actually made deep sense in the face of painful, even confusing, happenings, including invalidation of one’s own senses and subsequent conclusions.  A large part of leaving a sense of victimhood is finally trusting and believing the accuracy and validity of what one heard, saw, smelt, felt, sensed in one’s body, and thought, regardless of who says otherwise.

On Homework and Grades: No Thanks

The whole emphasis on homework for school-aged children, especially before high school, is misplaced and wrong to me.  Apparently, research has shown that homework is largely not productive for children’s learning, and I will obtain some bibliographic info./citations on these sources on a small essay I might write someday on this subject.

When I think about all the homework put on me from especially 5th grade on through to 10th grade and the pressures from teachers and my parents about getting it done well and on time, I see how it was such a source of performance anxiety development and internalization of shame in my psyche.  Also, grades were overly-emphasized, as if I were my grades.  Such falseness and a waste of time and energy over something not important.  My intelligence was there intact, regardless of my grades, which were largely poor through grammar, middle, and the first half of high school.

Parents and teachers reading this, please do not pressure and shame your children/students around homework and grades.  If your kids are smart, they’ll learn however they best learn. Trust and support them in that, please, and go from there.  Thank you.

Humbleness Vs. Greatness

Much of life, including my work, keeps me humble. I know I am good at what I do. But, since there is always more to learn, I don’t know if and when I’ll ever say I’m “great” at it. As I personally understand, along with believing in and stating one’s “greatness,” the risk of inflated pride arises exponentially, which then results in falsely thinking that one doesn’t have to grow and improve any further. Of course, that will never be the case, certainly not for me. The best I can truly strive for being and doing is participating in moments of greatness (often, greatness of healing) with another or others and, with concerted efforts, increasing the duration and likelihood of such moments.

A Personal Declaration

I am a pro-feminist ally Two Spirit gay man, really as feminist (and ever-evolving) as one can be, short of being cis-gendered female and, from there, identified as feminist. My heart and mind are aligned with women deeply, as that is my nature. Those who know me well know that I speak truthfully from my heart.

In the past few years, I have learned that what I have stated above remains very much the case while more clearly separating out this commitment to myself:  I will not be a doormat of domination and/or disrespect from others, including feminist-identified strong women.  Previously, it was just domineering, intimidating, difficult men with whom I set down such a clear boundary.  Now, it’s anyone who comes across this way to me– domineering/disrespectful. This is a fairly recent development, one that has taken a few years to clearly figure out and delineate. Self respect means being clear about being treated fairly and kindly by anyone and everyone, regardless of their gender and identity as a feminist. And, yes, I am always open to learning from and owning up to my mistakes. But, for someone to be in my personal life on an ongoing basis, I will expect the same reciprocation of valuing and respect that I myself am willing, able, and glad to express, no matter who you are. Peace.