Square Peg, Round Hole

I don’t know about other bloggers, but I tend to think about my blog posts for a while before I actually write them.  I select a topic that happens to interest me, and then I think of what, exactly, I’d like to say about that topic, and even compose a few sentences in my head before I ever sit down in front of the computer.  If I’m lucky, the writing process is smooth and quick, and I hammer out my usual 500 to 700 word post without too much effort or angst.

But there are the times when I just can’t get it right, and when I rewrite the opening paragraphs several times, only to find that I have written myself right into a corner each time.  Sometimes I actually have to get up and walk away from my computer for a little while, and then come back and look at my draft with fresh eyes.  And when I do that, I almost always realize that the problem is that one of the sentences or ideas I came up with I came up with when I was thinking about the post just didn’t fit when I was actually writing the post, even though I kept putting it into each and every draft.  Unfortunately, I had liked that particular string of words so much (it was clever, darn it!) that I was blind to the fact that it needed to be cut.  I can be stubborn that way.

Sadly, that stubbornness isn’t limited to my writing.  I like to meet new people, try new things, and despite being a fiercely independent person, join new groups.  And that’s usually a good thing, as it has exposed me to lots of new ideas, some dear friends and some worthy causes. But there are times when as I get to know a person better, I realize that we  have very little in common and have some totally incompatible values.  Or that I didn’t like a particular activity nearly as much as I thought I would, or that despite my best efforts, I simply don’t fit into a particular group or organization.  And that’s when most people would immediately back off, but all too often, I hang in there, just sure that if I try a little bit harder, everything will work out.  I guess I’m afraid of being a quitter, or admitting that I can’t really be all things to all people.

When I was in college, most of my friends pledged a sorority, so despite my considerable misgivings, I decided to join one too.  I lasted only three months.  Not because I had joined the wrong sorority…it was a perfectly good one, with lots of nice women….but because I’m far too much of an individualist to be the right person for any sorority.  Luckily, that was one time when I recognized my mistake early on and addressed it quickly. Everyone was quite nice about it, and even though I quit the sorority, I remained friends with several of its members.   If I had tried to stick with it, skipping meetings, complaining,  and ignoring rules I didn’t like, I probably would have managed to alienate all the members.

And that’s something I need to remember all these years later when I find myself being stubborn about trying to stick with something that just isn’t right for me.  No matter how hard I try, not everyone is going to like me.  And despite my best efforts, I’m not going to be an effective and helpful member of every new group I try.  And that’s okay.  Because no one fits in everywhere, but everyone fits in somewhere.

What I Know

I have never claimed to be the brightest bulb on the string.  I have a horrible memory for details, am distracted easily, and have always found it difficult to concentrate on more than one thing at a time.  So it is very rare for me to form a hard and firm opinion about  current events, because I always have to take into consideration the very likely possibility that I am, if not exactly wrong, then at least a bit fuzzy in my facts.

That being said, there are several things that I believe I do know about the recent mass murders in Orlando.  I know that there was a tragic and senseless loss of many lives that night, and that the friends and family of the victims are suffering greatly.  I know that losing a loved one to violence is something that leaves a permanent scar on the soul and forever alters the way a person looks at the world.  I know that even thinking about what happened for too long leaves most of us feeling sad, helpless and frustrated, no matter where we live.

I know that there are many theories about exactly why this happened, and that most people will choose to believe the theory that best suits their own world view.  I know that there will be a slew of posts and comments about what caused this incident and what can prevent it  from happening again, with the authors of them hoping that this will, at last, bring others around to their point of view.  And I know that very few people will change their minds about much of anything, no matter how well-written, extensively documented, or passionate the arguments happen to be.  People like their own opinions best.

I don’t know exactly why the shooter chose his targets, although at this point it seems most likely that it was their sexual orientation.  I do know that in order for him to so callously end their lives, he could no longer recognize his victims as fellow human beings, worthy of respect, consideration, and most of all, life.  He had to pretend that because he saw them as different from himself, that somehow meant they were also less human than him.  I believe that if he didn’t think that way, he couldn’t have done what he did.

Mostly, I know that I never want to think the way this murderer thought.  I never want to think that because someone comes from another country or culture, belongs to a different religion, follows a different political ideology, or has a different sexual orientation, that person is somehow less of a person than me.  Because horrible things happen when we forget that no matter how different we may seem to be, we’re really all just people, fellow humans struggling to find our way in a confusing world.

That much I know.