Look around you!
This is where the path of hatred has brought us! This is the path I choose, father.
What will yours be?
I did learn a lot of lessons myself today from a father who did just that and posted it on Facebook yesterday. First I learned to trust my first instinct, which was to not watch the video. But then it popped up again and Gerry was still awake, and it was late so I did. Oops. Guess I need to learn that lesson again a few more times.
Then I started reading comments. Oops again. Someday I'll learn not to do that too! The comments are what get me every time. After watching and reading a bit I jumped in on a couple of threads. I'm slowly starting to put my ideas out there, like dipping my big toe in the pool before jumping in. I learned some more.
Here is a beautiful perspective from a "friend of a friend" on Facebook (and I've never even met *my* friend in real life - she's just another awesome person I met through the internet)
- "I don't think he's terrible. I think he's scared; I think she's scared; I think I'm scared. Our fear - though differing by degree - manifests differently - his as gross violence, hers as seeking validation from friends, and mine as criticism of him. But for me to think I am better then he because my manifestation of fear is more socially acceptable, is to 'believe' these manifestations don't have a common root. Believing he is a monster, and less a man than I, I perpetuate the myth that we are separate from each other, and this suffering of mankind continues - this suffering which manifests as conflict, divorce, infanticide, war, and criticism. To see that he is, in essence (at root, in the DNA etc) me, I need only turn my attention from his actions to my own, and witness that I react with critical fear; thus I can shepherd myself, and lead by example. Those who praise his actions are merely the other side of the coin of me condemning his actions." (This person actually prefers to remain anonymous, can you imagine? He wants no feedback or credit of any kind. I find that very refreshing and inspiring too!)
Another person commented, "if HE isn't terrible, his actions certainly are." and the first person responded,
- "I very much enjoy this expression. For me, this intuitive distinction makes all the difference. To identify with my actions is what I see this man doing: my child criticized me in front of others, who now view "me" as bad, and, to defend myself, I will seek a group of like-minded individuals (a congregation, fellowship, flock, army etc) to validate ("good father") who I identify as the 'real' Me, the Me who is in control on my family (I shoot the computer, as I vilify this external thing etc) etc. By me and others viewing Me as in control, I feel (temporarily) safe, secure. The problem with this illusory security/identity is that it needs to be continually reinforced ("all life is flux," saw Aristotle). And, like hot differs only by degree from cold (both, at root, are 'temperatures,' and thus are the same "thing"), we here congregate, fellow show, amass like-mindedly against him, creating a righteous army to protect ourselves (perhaps under the noble guise of protecting her, while we may chide the US govt from invading a foreign land). Protect ourselves From? From ourselves, though we often perceive he (and bad parents like him) are the real threat. JFK cheated on his wife, and was an inspiration to many. Was he good or bad? Or is this black/white view of a human, though real, not the only way to view a human? Is there a more inclusive view, one that takes in to account that a man, identified solely by his actions, moment to moment, is merely my way to control, to label, to identify and compartmentalize the good from the bad (the human mind struggles to see things in totality, in wholeness, thus is cuts it into pieces)? Are we not ultimately afraid to look at this badness which dwells within us? Perhaps not. Perhaps he is simply a bad parent, and she, his daughter, deserves saving. I know not. This knowledge is beyond my pay grade. My "preference" is for a parent to treat his child with independence and dignity. Fortunately I have two children, two opportunities with which to practice, daily, what I hope is not perceived here as preaching (I truly trust that each parent here does what he/she is moved to do, beyond (my) judgement of you). I do not disagree with anyone here who views this man as a bad parent. I see this too. And I see, simultaneously, there is more to the story. Who am I to see or say for another? Human, I judge people daily. And, seeing my judgement, I am then often moved toward being of service. But, like hot and cold, service for one man looks different from service of another. No two snowflakes are the same, yet they're all snowflakes. ♥"
Ok, back to lessons I learned. First of all I thought about this all day today. I mean really! I'm like that - once I start thinking about something I just have to dig my teeth in, and shake my head around like a dog chewing a stuffed animal, till the insides are all spilling out and it's spread out all over the room and you still can't make any sense of it. So all day I'm thinking about this and reading other people's comments - all the while doing my normal stuff - feeding and playing with the kids, getting Gerry down for nap, getting us all out the door for Marisol's dance class. And all the while I know that I need to focus on my life, and my kids, and all of my blessings. I know that is the right thing to do. And I was somewhat successful. But I could totally see the irony of me trying to write a blog post about this while ignoring my own children's needs. Someone brought this video to an Unschooling page on Facebook and it was deleted because the people there are keeping the focus on Unschooling and what helps it thrive. Needless to say, this isn't it.
On the Natural Parenting page they asked if readers are on "Team Dad". I thought that was interesting because if you aren't on Team Dad then I guess you are on Team Daughter which also implies they are competing against each other and only one of them can win. I know there is a better way.
Another friend of mine who I've known since we were about 4 years old also struggled. He felt that what the dad did was over the top but also admitted that he would probably want to do the same thing if his child had put a note like that up on the internet. I hear what he's saying and I want parents to know there are alternatives.
I read these other perspectives which I loved and shared:
Demand Euphoria's post: What Kind Of Bed Do You Make With a Gun?
and FreePlayLife's post: Friends Don’t Let Friends Parent Batshit Crazy
And all day I ruminated. And tried to love my wonderful life. And tried not to get too depressed that most people (who comment anyways) not only think this kind of behavior is acceptable but actually laudable. I tried to focus on all that I love in the world and know to be good. Like this amazing blog that raised $25,000 in less than a day for a family in need.
And then this evening, after making it through the day, and even sort of doing it while sticking to my ideals I started to write. But in the midst I was needed by my two kiddos and it is easier to read when needed. So I read some more and I read this update from the father. And my feelings changed again. I hope that his daughter really is ok. And I hope that they really did talk and laugh and that they move on just fine. I don't know him and I don't know her. I just saw the video and it kind of freaked me out. For all the people out there who think that people who are concerned about actions like these are "bleeding hearts" I would say, be careful. Be careful because we don't know what our words and actions do to others. Sure, some people will be fine. But others will not be. And that is why our reactions differ, because we are all so different. So that is why *I* choose love and try for a peaceful way as much as possible. I don't have the "one right answer", none of us do. But what we do need to do is look at the people we care about and ask them how they feel. Then actually listen.
I'm trying to get to a place of not judging others but instead to a place of compassion. Really, I have nothing to judge this father, daughter, or family on but an 8-minute video. He says that they have learned an important lesson, "We have always told her what you put online can affect you forever...One post, made by her Dad, will probably follow him the rest of his life." He says he didn't know it would go viral, and I believe him. The internet is pretty amazing but it can definitely skew things. We learn about every extreme thing out there and that is why we get scared. But these clips are really just that, snapshots. They don't give us the whole picture. So again I learned again today that waiting is beneficial. That silence can be powerful. My own mind and feelings on this manner changed several times today. You can read more about the father on his facebook page. If you do you may be more sympathetic to him or even like him more. Nothing is black and white.
For me I don't want to take any chances. I want to be like Pocahontas. I don't have the answers, but I know what I choose.