This world is becoming a cruel place. It seems the joy of living has been snatched from us. We have become empty souls among lives pretending to be happy. Outwardly, via social media, we place ourselves on display as if we are the fulfillment of everything good that life has to offer. Yet, nothing is further from the truth. In reality, we, or at least I have (I should not speak for you) become somewhat tired of life as it is presented. The criticism, the ridicule, the put downs, the insults, the prejudice and bias, the hate, the unrealistic and impossible expectations, have taken full occupancy of our speech, our words, our thoughts and our relationships. Twitter has become a cesspool of insults and ridicule. Instagram has become an easy place to hide behind doctored pictures of success and happiness. Facebook has become a illegitimate depository of falsehood and would be better called Fakebook. LinkedIn is starting to lose its way as a professional and supportive network, and has become increasingly a poetry book for inspirational quotes, sermons preaching the steps to success, amidst a competition to be more dramatic, philosophical and influential than the other. I hope we can exempt it from all the trash other social networking mediums has brought into our lives because it remains for me, the only place to benefit from online relationships.
To be frank, I need to escape the fiction this current world culture offers and find a place of reality, a sincere place of truth and peace, where I am accepted, loved and encouraged but as well held accountable for being me.
I am beyond tired of being labelled with so many different names and characterizations by people who have never met me. What is even more troubling is being arbitrarily placed in a group that I never asked to join nor do I want to belong to.
Here are the labels this white male, born in Newfoundland (who as a “Newfie” knows what prejudice and ridicule is all about), number five son of six children, for whom my parents left all they had in Corner Brook, moved to Toronto to provide more opportunity for us, of English descent, now 62 years of age, two mature and married children, a grandpa, a CEO since I was thirty-nine, always studying part time (DBA [Can], MBA, MSc HR, CPA, CMA, CDir, DipTh) since age twenty-one to achieve more so that I could not only provide the basics for my family, but provide a life of potential and opportunity so that they can be the best they can be.
But, some (not all) of you have told me I am a supremist, just for being white and because I am a male, I am a male white supremist. But like you, I didn’t choose the colour of my skin nor my gender. I just chose to work with passion and purpose and learn with perseverance and promise.
If I listen to my government, some of you have called me a racist, a bigot, even hateful, and as much as a Neanderthal, that is if I don’t agree with your policies and/or offer a differing opinion. You have labelled us (Canadians) as Nazis, Hitler like, intolerant, white supremist, anti-globalists, uneducated, misogamist, bewildered, unCanadian and many more. You have told me in so many words that I am no longer capable therefore, not allowed to think for myself. But you don’t represent all that is right and just. While I must respect your legal authority over me I am not required to accept and apply your humanistic values to my personal life. You have not been given any moral authority to be the supreme judge of everything.
If I refuse to comment on or respond to forced questions posed by “friends” via Facebook, you have told me I don’t value your relationship. But I don’t believe relationships should be held for ransom to a Facebook poll or how many likes are granted.
If I refuse to be imprisoned by Twitter, than I am called an illiterate. But I don’t want negativity to rule my life.
If I express concern about the unrestrained, uninhibited and sometimes revealing content of pictures found on Instagram, you have called me intolerant. But, am I not allowed to express my worries about the negative effects this popular social media’s misleading messages may cause to a person’s self-esteem?
If I say I believe in God you have been so blunt to call me an idiot. But I thought I had the freedom to express my faith as much as you have not to. It is what gives me hope in a hopeless world and without hope we perish.
If I don’t accept ALL the “news” as legitimate, you have said I am closed minded. In fact one of you, a well known journalist, actually told me to “go soak my head” because I disagreed once with one of your social media posts. But I thought we should attempt to discern the truth so that we know what is acceptable and right.
If I don’t follow the current crowd or the opinion of a particular group, you have labelled me as a member of the “alt right”. But if I follow that reasoning, I have lost the freedom and right (within the law) to establish my own values for living.
If I question someone’s behaviour, you have told me I have unjustified phobias. But I can love someone but not agree with what they do as much as they can do the same with respect to me.
If I don’t follow the dogma of the church, I am told I am not good enough and I am going to hell. Yet your dogma keeps changing so how much faith can I place in what the church says; really not a lot.
If I buy my 3 year old grandson a micro truck or a car for his Hot Wheels track, you have said I am too focused on gender. But why should I withhold from him an amazing interest that he freely developed without manipulation in something that was common to his Dad and Grandpa? How cool is that!
In the midst though, of all of this craziness, I had an awakening. I realized, it’s not you that is the cause of my troubled state of mind, but it is me. It is not your responsibility, but I am the one responsible for my thoughts, for my actions, for my beliefs, for my joy, for my happiness, for my success, for my life. It’s not you that I should be focused on but I need to focus on my own personal well being. My life is not about what you think about me, it is about what I think about me!
I was always taught to love and accept others as much as I would want to be loved and accepted. I was taught everyone was equal regardless of race, colour, gender, culture, belief, religion, social status, and even behaviour. I was taught to be kind. I was taught to work hard, to be a good steward, to be responsible, to respect those in authority over me. I was taught to give back a minimum of 10% of what I earned to those less fortunate so they might have a better life. I was taught to care about those who are in need. I was taught to honour my father and mother. I was taught to share. I was taught that outward appearances mean nothing, but one’s character is what matters. I was taught family is important. I was taught that success is not about the sum of my material possessions. I was taught to discern between error and truth. I was taught that God does exist and that God alone is sovereign. I was taught that my legacy isn’t a name on a building or words on a tombstone but is whether or not I did my best to live by the values I was taught and accepted as my own. I was taught to pursue my dreams, to realize my fullest potential. I was taught to enjoy life and each and every moment and the experience it presents. I was taught that there will be challenges, disappointments, failures, sorrow, but life is about my attitude and how I deal with these matters as opposed to allowing theses matters to take control. I was taught not to allow others to define who I am but to define who I am, myself.
I was taught to love everyone without exception, to be kind, to entertain strangers, to care for those less fortunate, to support the weak, to fight for the bullied, to uphold the truth, to protect our children.
I was also taught though, you may not believe the same and that’s ok. I was taught not to judge.
I was taught to be thankful for all of life's blessings in spite of its challenges which can be sometimes overwhelming.
What I was taught to be and do and have tried to become, though I do often times fail, is nothing like what some of you, who do not know me, have told me what I am.
So, for the good of the both of us, even though we cannot escape each other’s presence, it’s time we end this conflicted relationship. It is time for me to take complete control and live a life of freedom with purpose and passion.
But please understand, it’s not you, it’s me.