On Broad Strokes
I hate painting walls.Hate. It.
Not with a fiery, burning passion, mind you. But I will, with the utmost of begrudging feelings (and expressions, because my poker face is basically non-existent) do it when I can’t get out of it. And I’ll whine like the dickens if it’s just Jeff and I doing the painting.
And I was going to try to have a brilliant segue to move into this next bit, but any ideas for what that would be are so far away they don’t even warrant a speck on the horizon. So I’ll just leap into the next bit post-confession:
I may possibly hate this with a fiery, burning passion: When people paint other people or situations or themselves with a broad stroke. And adding to my ire is the fact I’ve done the very same thing myself over and over, ad infinitum (it feels at times).
- I’ve seen it happen with the Syrian refugee crisis (because it’s all just a ploy by ISIS to get terrorists into Europe and the Americas, right?).
- I’ve seen it happen in regards to one’s weight/body type (because everyone who isn’t model-thin must be lazy, no? And those who are thin must be hyper-focused on them selves and not enjoying life, right?)
- I’ve heard it in election campaigns (because everything will be awesome if you vote for Party A/B/C and terrible if you vote for Party C/B/A for everyone else is a lying crook who is or will soon ruin Democracy!)
And in the process we miss so much shade and shadow, texture and nuance. Because as much as we want to reduce things to succinct sound bites, to a clear black-and-white listing of pros and cons, so much of life is filled with shades of gray, with light and shadow.
I wish I had some fantastic solution to rid the world of such behaviour. But, again, I’m as guilty of it as anyone I have railed against for doing it. Not that I’m without hope. For the thing about being aware that a behaviour that is driving me batty can also be found in me is I’m learning to do two things:
- I’m learning to step back and give more grace to others in case I’m missing the bigger picture, the behind-the-scenes details.
- Wait … it’s all pretty much just #1.
I think that’s where the fix is – in the tried-and-true advice of walking a mile in another person’s shoes, in looking at and for as many of the particulars to situations and people and things as we can; to not avoid the shade and shadows simply because it makes us uncomfortable.
This isn’t complete yet – I’m still sifting through all of this myself. But I will say it is nice to put down my big ol’ brush for a stretch as I do.