I grew up on a small U.S. Air Force base located over in Southern Italy — the top of the heel of the boot, for those who are curious. On that small base, I attended a tiny school composed of grades 7-12, and there were no more than 25 kids in my entire grade.
It was fairly idyllic, in a “small town” sense wherein everybody knows your name, who your dad is, whether or not he’s an officer versus enlisted, and what sport you play. Not a bad place to grow up.
Being military, it was a total mix of races. Cool.
Being overseas (as in, NOT in the U.S. of A.), it was not only a total mix of races, but a total mix of cultures. VERY cool.
So yeah, I feel a bit “enlightened” when it comes to knowing that there is more to the world than white folk who wear baseball caps and drive pickups and vote Republican. I feel a bit “worldly” when it comes to realizing the miniature boundaries of the great state of Ohio mean NOTHING in the grand scheme of things. And I feel a bit “illuminated” when it comes to understanding that there’s more than one way to skin a cat… or practice religion… or think in terms of friendship and forgiveness.
My mom once told me one of the most simple yet profound things I think I’ve ever heard. In a fit of rage, I was going off about some stupid person or another (there are so many of them, it’s just hard to keep track, lo these many years later). She could never “get” my tantrums about poopy-headed people. Her response, which has stuck with me to this day, was this:
People are just people, you know?
And she is right. This has been a hard lesson to keep in mind, even though it fits right in with my “new-ish” frame of mind. The one where I have a Happiness Project; surround myself with positive things; find people who encourage and support me; work toward being less stressed out; accept myself as an obnoxious yet fun-natured individual; and forgive the world its sucky-ness.
Part of all this is remembering what my mom told me: People are just people, you know? Why is that so difficult to remember?
But okay, that’s just me. Here I am, actually making the attempt. I can’t imagine what it’s like for those who aren’t even trying.
I’m anti-social, sure. But only because I have a social phobia which keeps being proven less as paranoia and more as fact. Even so, I definitely don’t suffer from xenophobia.
A social phobia is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by shyness and heightened self-consciousness in particular social situations. Put simply, it’s a fear of public humiliation or embarrassment.
This particular anxiety disorder isn’t made any easier for a person who happens to also be both intellectual as well as deeply empathetic. Know why? It leads to a great ability to read character — and then to be extremely shitty about what that estimation brings. And worse? To be disappointed every time I’m proven right.
But also — exceptionally pleased when proven wrong. Because (sing it with me now), people are just people, you know?
Still. It’s hard to discount crappy experiences. No matter how many good experiences one has, it’s the bad ones upon which we tend to dwell. Which, of course, leads to anti-social behavior. And that’s not cool.
Anti-social means being unwilling or unable to associate in a normal or friendly way with other people, and being antagonistic, hostile, unfriendly, menacing or threatening toward others. ouch.
Anti-social means being opposed or detrimental to social order or the principles on which society is constituted, and persistently violating the rights of others. double-ouch.
I kind of suck. Maybe that’s why some of my extended family aren’t currently pleased with me.
Still, at least I can rest easy in the knowledge that my anti-social behavior isn’t race or culture based. I like to call myself an equal opportunity hater. That’s less funny on paper than it was in my head. Turns out, it really isn’t very funny at all, is it?
I mean, the upshot of what I’m trying to say is this: I’m a bitch, but at least I don’t suffer xenophobia, an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or of that which is foreign or strange. On the contrary, I’m quite the opposite — I adore people and ideas which are new! Guess that makes me xeno-welcoming. Or whatever.
Doesn’t make me any less of a bitch. But I suppose if it’s a contest, either we’re all losing, or we’re all winning. Cuz none of us is ahead of the other. We’re all just people.
And… people are just people, you know?
Throughout the money of August 2012, my dear friend Aaron @dadblunders and I are doing a dry run of the Blogging From A to Z Challenge. This past April was my first official participation in such activity, and I had no idea what I was doing. No theme, no forethought, purely spur-of-the-moment. This time around, I have a plan. Join the fun!
For this event, I am engaging in a month of controversy. Consider yourself forewarned.