I'm a pretty open-minded "big tent" type of person. I can rock out to Slayer with some friends one month, and then enjoy an Adele concert with my wife the next. I can enjoy a trashy burger one day, but then be down in Washington, DC enjoying Michelin Star rated cuisine the next. I have both liberal and conservative political views. I enjoy a fine German sports coupe, but I've also been lusting over a big American V-8 powered something or other for years, or a Ford Raptor, and the itch just isn't going away. :-)
I certainly know where I stand politically, and have some strong convictions about certain things, myself. We're all unique individuals with unique perspectives, experiences, and paths through life that have brought us to where we are, and can explain how and why we believe in what we do. I understand the different views, and I know both ends of the arguments. Every single person that I've talked to about our election has had some pretty extraordinary things to say about how their life experiences had influenced their vote. You cannot assume anything about anybody, and I would never think less of anybody who believes or votes differently than me, because I have something called respect. Failure to respect another's beliefs and votes is a failure to respect their lives, and all that they've endured and experienced that has brought them to where they are.
It's Your Choice, And Failure, To Hate Those Who Think Differently
Through my cancer experience and the writing that I do, I've come to know people from all walks of life that span the entire global political spectrum. There are certainly people with whom I don't share even a single political belief with, yet I love them and appreciate them all the same for the beautiful people that I know them to be, despite our differing beliefs. There's far more to people than their political beliefs, and there's far more to the world than "politics."
It never occurred to me that I should hate someone because they believe differently than I.
Perhaps this is the wrong thing to be saying here in the Washington, DC suburbs, at ground zero for all of the political mayhem in the U.S. currently? I think some people's entire lives and personal identities are all centered around their political beliefs, and I find that to be very sad. It's your personal choice to hate someone for differing views. Maybe this is a rare quality that I possess, but it's my personal choice and nature to look beyond our differences, and to love and appreciate people for all that we still have in common. We love our families and our friends. We fucking hate cancer, and so many of us work tirelessly to help make the world a better place for those fighting today, and want the world to be a better place than it was when we finally leave. All of that transcends our differing beliefs about things, or at least it does for me. Those are far larger and more important things to me than what are really minuscule political differences. There isn't really a right or a wrong view, there's what's right for each individual, based on the unique perspective they've gained from the summation of their life experiences. Except for Nazis, Communists and terrorists. They can all go to hell. You see? We do have some things in common.
The Senseless War Against a Dualism That Has Always Existed
I've started reading some Wayne Dyer again. From the very opening chapter of "You'll See It When You Believe It"
"The things that upset us in others are the lessons we have to learn ourselves. You cannot exclusively examine the north pole of a magnet. No matter how thin you slice it, there is always a south pole to consider. The dualism is always there. Rather than dismissing this concept with your left-brain linear side, remember that you have, at the same time, a right-brain intuitive side that can allow opposites to live comfortably with each other."
Like it or not, acknowledge and accept it or not, we have "red and blue poles" in our country. One of these poles would like to have thought that they owned the whole damned thing and could do whatever the fuck they wanted, that the other pole didn't exist and shouldn't have a say, all while that opposite pole had suffered and felt "forgotten" under the policies of the other. That pole finally became tired enough of being ignored and forgotten that it has risen up, and now controls the levers of power in the country. Is this really surprising? Do we really need fucking safe spaces for this to help cope? What the fuck??? This happens all the time. Look back centuries and you'll see that no one party has ever really controlled Washington, DC for more than about two or three presidential terms with a few exceptions. We flip-flop around our poles all the time. Granted, the person elected to lead our country from the "red pole" is not exactly a shining example of humanity. People have every right to protest him and I applaud them for that, but was the other really that much better, and a shining beacon of morality and ethics for all to live by? (If you think so, you're a fucking liar and still in denial.)
The ideal way of governing is by accepting this dualism, and by making honest efforts to do what works best for the majority of people in both poles with workable bi-partisan bi-polar solutions, and that's what people want. They want the two poles of Congress to work with each other, and the reason why Congressional approval ratings have always been so low is because they have not! It's how it should work, but that's never going to happen so long as so many people keep their heads stuck up their asses, trying to pretend that the other pole doesn't even exist.
Ask me how I overcame PTSD After Cancer, without the help of professional therapists or anti-depressant drugs? By learning to accept that I had two "poles" of my mind, the conscious and the sub-conscious side, which were also the rational/logical side (conscious), and then the emotive (sub-conscious) side that was still afraid. I had to learn to accept that the conscious side of my brain could not and cannot ever control the sub-conscious side of me that was still so afraid. No matter how much I tried, I couldn't beat my sub-conscious side into submission by telling it to just stop being afraid. I had to learn to accept that this dualism was there, and find ways to work with it, rather than against it. That's when I started moving forward again, and managed to pull myself out of the terrible near suicidal tailspin that I had been in.
Why are Americans so divided? Because not only do so many not see the other pole, they continually refuse to acknowledge that such a thing even exists, which is precisely what's causing them so much angst. They want to believe that there's only one side of the coin, and only one pole of the magnet. Effectively, they're just fighting against themselves. We're not really that "divided" either. It's another personal choice to believe that we're so divided. I see differently. What I see is that we're millions of shades of purple, with some being a tad more blue or red than others. Most people want about the same things, but just have differing views on how to best accomplish those goals. We all want a better healthcare system. We all want less gun crime. We all want a more robust economy, and less terrorism. Anybody who says that one is "anti-health" or "anti-whatever" that sounds so obvious that all should be in favor of, is a fucking liar. Nobody is opposed to these things. What they're opposed to are the methods that one pole or the other might have, and founded or unfounded beliefs that such methods will actually have the opposite effect. The stack of papers for the unintended consequences of government legislation and action gone awry would probably go to the moon. There's plenty of ammo on both sides.
The Cure For Our DIVISION - Stop Judging and start respecting
Do you really think you can know ONE thing about a person on Page 738 of their lives, and immediately know what they're all about, and all that they've been through? No, so don't even fucking try, and if you do you're a fucking asshole. Sadly, there seems to be a whole lot of people doing this! Everybody seems to think they're so fucking smart and that they know everything that there is to know about people, when they most likely don't know jack shit about those they're judging. How would I know?
The purpose of this website is to share the darkest parts of my journey through cancer and life after, to help others find their way through theirs, and to help them not feel so alone. In turn, some that I've helped have become friends, and have opened up to me about very dark aspects of their own lives. These are things that I've been very shocked and saddened to learn of, and never would have expected to hear. When people open up to you about such dark experiences in their lives, you just have instant respect for them and for however they've managed to survive what they have, and for however the fuck they're going to vote as a result. How the fuck do you tell a sexual assault victim or a suicide attempt survivor that they've survived what they have "wrong??" How do you tell a cancer survivor, someone who's lost someone they love to cancer, or someone that's had numerous racist death threats made against their family that they've survived wrong? You can't and you don't. That's a moral red line that no decent human being will ever cross, and if you do you're a fucking asshole. I have no right to judge, but you think you do when you probably don't even fucking know? Fuck you.
Get off of your moral high-horses, stop boxing people in, and stop judging other people when you probably don't know even the first fucking thing about their lives, the struggles they've faced, nor have you walked even a single fucking day in their shoes. You don't know what you don't know, so maybe try respecting people instead, and treating them like decent human beings? I've been judged both harshly and unfairly, but refuse to do the same in return. We're all unique individuals that have had unique experiences and paths through life, and have every right to our perspectives. You're a fool to judge me harshly for my conservative views, when I share many of your same liberal views. You're a fool to judge me for my liberal views, when I share many of your same conservative views. I'm not red or blue, I'm a shade of purple just like most. I respect you and your views, even if I disagree.
I'll never remove someone from my life for having different views that me because that's fucking stupid, but I will remove stuck up judgmental assholes that refuse to see or even acknowledge the other side of the coin, while claiming to be so "open and tolerant." They want to believe that there's only one side of the coin, their side, but that's never how things have worked. Like ever.
My family and I have been through hell and back numerous times, not just dealing with cancer, but with other challenges in our lives. We don't need toxic people in our lives, and the same rules I learned fighting and surviving cancer are still rules that we live by today.
From the very first essay I published about cancer survivorship - Steve Pake's Top 10 Guide to Surviving A Young Adult Cancer:
REMOVE ALL TOXIC ELEMENTS FROM YOUR LIFE
First and foremost, remove all toxic elements from your life. Fears, uncertainty, and doubts about cancer managed to fill every corner and crevice of my mind to the point that it broke me as a person. When you’re so overwhelmed with negative thoughts, you literally become crowded out and can lose the ability to feel anything good at all, such as the love and laughter of your family. I slowly learned how to deal with and overcome all of this through the steps in this guide, but it came at a price. Having to focus inward so strongly has left the new me with neither the energy, nor the patience, to deal with much in the way of external toxicities. The news and its daily death count, who’s killing whom in the various wars that always seem to be raging around the planet, and the nasty blood-boiling political debates of the day have all needed to be switched off. Trust me, you don’t need it and can get by just fine without it. And if Rome really is burning, you’ll manage to hear about it through word of mouth or at the office water cooler anyway. No need to be bombarded with such news 24/7. Focus on the good in your life and the world, and stay away from dark places and sources of negative energy.
Anything sound familiar?
REMOVE TOXIC PEOPLE FROM YOUR LIFE
Similarly, if you’ve had people in your life that have repeatedly crossed lines with you, that have gone treading where they shouldn’t, or have rubbed you the wrong way one too many times, it’s high time to let them go too. Cancer is going to be playing enough head-games with you as it is, so the last thing you need in your life are actual people that are doing this to you too. True friends don’t do this. Let them go. God will not only bring much better people into your life when you do, but will reward you two-fold if you can forgive those that have hurt you, especially in such difficult times. I regret the few times that I’ve had to push people out of my life in these past few years as a cancer survivor, but it’s hard to imagine life without having met those that God brought into my life afterwards. These people have added so much to my life, helped to fill voids that I didn’t even realize existed, and I love, cherish, and appreciate these people so much. Make sure that your heart is in the right place, cut ties as gently as you can, and forgive those that have wronged you when you’re able and move on. Have faith that God will take care of you.
Perhaps I need to add narrow-minded hypocritical judgmental assholes to that list. A true friend will always respect you, even if they disagree. I have no qualms about removing toxic people (or things) from my life, because every time I've done so, I've found much better people to have along with me on this crazy ride called life, and much better things to occupy my time. Judge me if you want. I don't need you in my life, and will find far better souls to have along with me than you.
The very next paragraph in that same Wayne Dyer book.
"I delight in Ram Dass’s description of paradox in Be Here Now: 'The most exquisite paradox… as soon as you give it all up, you can have it all…. As long as you want power, you can’t have it. The minute you don’t want power, you’ll have more than you ever dreamed possible.'" - Wayne Dyer in "You'll Believe It When You See It"
Does this not sound like our 2016 election? THIS IS A WAYNE DYER BOOK FROM 1989!!!
So long as a critical mass of people are choosing a particular social media platform to wage a senseless war on a duality that has always existed, I refuse to partake. As I said before, count me the fuck out. We've been through enough. Last year, 2016, was a very deeply traumatizing year for my entire family, and we're trying our best to start out 2017 on a much more positive note. After all that we had been through last year and in the years prior, and with how broken we had become at times, I promised to myself two things before the election. First, that no matter the outcome I would accept it and move on, and secondly, that I would just wake up every morning trying to be the best human being and version of myself that I could be each and every day.
I'm a man of my word. I've kept my promise to myself, and refuse to allow the senseless wars of others to drag down my spirits, or to even engage with anyone in such a ridiculous manner when I know we actually agree on most things in the end. I find it very regretful that more people can't see things as I do, so perhaps this will help. What are you really fighting against? Much love to you all, but I have much better things to do with my time.
I miss when people just posted about cats. :-/
Afterwards: In another amazing example of synchronicity, the very person that I had thought of when I titled this blog "I Miss When People Just Posted About Cats," actually reached out to me to check in on me right as I was finishing this up, having noticed that I was "missing." I know that this person and I are different shades of purple politically, but aren't we all? What does it matter? I don't care, and I wasn't at all surprised to learn that they had been feeling the same exact things about the toxic social media climate as I had. My exact words in this blog have now become a self-fulfilling prophecy right as I've been writing it. When you close one door, others will open. I've found much more productive things to be doing with my time. And those who truly value you in your life, will seek you out or somehow manage to find you. These are the people that I truly love, value, and desire to have along in my life. I don't have time for fake friends. Thanks to this friend of mine and others for caring. They know who they are. :-)