A list of things I don’t understand could fill the internet. Today, I’m going to try to narrow it down a bit.
First off – pronouns.
Late last year a local teen committed suicide on the interstate after deciding that the transition from male to female would never be possible.
Of course there’s the curious case of person I grew up calling Bruce Jenner who has been publicly transitioning to Caitlyn.
Bradley Manning, a soldier convicted of espionage in 2013, sued to receive hormone therapy from the Army to become a woman. In the eyes of the law, Bradley is now Chelsea.
I awkwardly danced around the use of pronouns as I’m sure you can tell. On one hand, there is sex, a biological term defined and determined in utero. On the other hand, there is gender, socially constructed notions of what males and females should be.
Continuing with my either/or theme, I notice that some people cling to their right to assign pronouns to others. Once a male, always a male, they say. Others insist that person’s requests to be referred to in a certain way must always be respected.
Of course we all know a pronoun isn’t just a pronoun, it’s an indicator of which side you are on. It’s a dog whistle. Since I am among friends here, I will admit that my confusion goes beyond grammar – I don’t understand this desire to change one’s gender.
So I think, and I think, and I go back and forth – respect vs. immutability; objective vs. subjective; despair vs. amusement.
Then — BAM — it hits me.
I don’t have to understand it.
When I follow Sharon Salzberg’s Lovingkindness meditation, I silently repeat these phrases:
May all be beings be safe
May all beings be happy
May all beings be healthy
May all beings live with ease.
I hope you find this as freeing as I do —
YOU DON’T NEED TO HAVE AN OPINION ABOUT EVERYTHING!
Even BAM-ier, the opinion you hold is just a story your mind makes up to keep itself busy.
There’s been a stupid meme going around. If you post it, it’s some indication that your “bulls*** meter is broken” based on Jenner gender issues and that woman who pretended to have black parents. Of course it’s just another dog whistle way to show which “side” you’re on and just in case it wasn’t clear, there’s a dig at the president as well.
Even more than the pronoun mismanagement and gender transitioning, I fail to understand why people chose to put such unkind energy out into the world.
Ask yourself this: you have finite hours in your finite days (believe it or not, that’s True. Finite is non-negotiable). Is this the legacy you want to leave?
I wish we could all stop for a minute or 15. Just stop. Take some deep breaths and repeat those four phrases.
But I know that the best I can do when I am overwhelmed by confusion is to take my own deep breaths, say those four lines to myself, and have faith that I am creating ripples.