It's ironic. I get in my own way. The very deepest longings of my heart and the values that I hold most dear are the very things that continue to elude me. The irony is that it seems like they keep slipping away because I attempt to live out these very values and so limit myself.
Take, for instance, peacemaking and conflict resolution. I know, deep down, that I am a peacemaker. One that values unity and looks for understanding the many sides of any given situation. I would rather limit my voice and opinion on matters in circumstances where I know they are not heard or engaged in thoughtful dialogue. It often means I do not speak my mind except around the few close friends who I know understand me. Who actually listen. Most do not.
Social media estranges as television enrages. Those who scream the loudest, speak with insipid stupidity, or reduce complex realities into catchy dualisms or lists of 3 get all the attention. Yet none of these instances contain any genuine peacemaking or coming together, or even of the nuanced truth of the matter. Underlying all the talk is the insistence on accepting an ideology or system of belief.
Some groups fight competing groups while some ignore. Some individuals place their ideals in a light which seem attractive yet which still ultimately requires absolute agreement or implicit adherence. Genuine negotiation and peacemaking in the face of equally compelling and arbitrary arguments is exceedingly unvalued.
Returning to my desire for peacemaking, this current climate alienates me. I dare not speak my mind lest it drive others away and flame the fires of judgment. Yet in not speaking up, I am cast aside with just as much force as if I had spoken up. I do not want to speak negatively of the people I know who genuinely care yet belong or believe to something I cannot. I desire only to speak positively of the existentially authentic and faithful way of life and virtue I hold dearly. Yet both ultimately are two sides to the same coin, are they not?
My opinions, my values, my contextual understandings of peacemaking, or love, doubt, faith, nature, humanity, joy, absurdity, anxiety, kindness, responsibility, courtesy, and any number of other beliefs or virtues swirl incessantly within me, at odds with my very self. Unable to experience the very things my heart desires because it is not a shared experience. Everything that I have valued and pursued in my life, every calling, love, or virtue, has refused to accept and include me. Everything I thought I was serving has not allowed me to continue to serve in the ways I know I am meant to live.
Is being cast aside any different than cutting oneself off? Must I compromise and join an arbitrary group just to feel accepted, even if deep down there is an opinion or belief which if expressed will remove my inclusion in the group? (Truly, I have yet to 'belong' to any community, company, or group where this is not exactly what has happened...and often over the most trivial of topics.)
It is ironic that I long for community, for acceptance, for existential authenticity, for being there for each other, for love, and yet in my pursuit of experiencing this in my life I find myself as isolated and cut off from others that I have ever been. Is this a wilderness experience? If so, 40 days would have been a blessing. The stripping away of my expectations, callings, and desires now stretches into years, of constant stripping away of expectations and of those who do not listen or empathize without unconsciously requiring an acceptance of the beliefs which I do not, and cannot, honestly hold. But they are not to blame. Their lives are their sacred story, and most mean well even if the framework and outlook on life is incompatibly unable to accept mine.
These words are perhaps ambiguous or confusing. They may seem to beat around the bush without naming certain offenses or offenders. That is because I do not truly value them as offenses or offenders. It is simply reality. A world filled with people seeking to live out their lives in self-affirmation to themselves, others, and the world around them. As the dew on the grass, or a mist in the air, each life is fleeting and short.
Every story is sacred, and each journey is valuable.
I want to know people. To value their stories and revel in the sacredness of their life and learned knowledge and wisdom. And to have this reciprocated with me.
Such is the irony of life (or is it the absurdity of it?) that as I pursue such community I only become more excluded. I need to get out of my own way. Perhaps I need to begin to speak my mind and not be so concerned with peacemaking that I cannot state my beliefs, my values, my outlook on life in such a way as to be recognized for the outsider I have so obviously become. It is just hard for me to do, because I am a peacemaker who desires unity, self-limiting, and conflict resolution.
I suppose there is the time and place to create the conflict so that it can be resolved?
Such is my resolve now, to strip away the ambiguity which I know I exhibit and begin to express what I believe with more clarity. God knows, it isn't like I can be any more marginalized than I already am.
Can I make peace with myself?
Can I allow myself to state unequivocally what I believe, who I am, and acknowledge that this separates myself from those who unequivocally believe differently?
Can I resolve the conflict in myself so that I can return to that public space of knowing others and remain a peacemaker?
Can I recount my sacred story?