Saturday, February 6, 2010

Layer Upon Layer

Since I've been discussing integration a lot lately, I've been thinking a bit about my own story.

As a child I was something of a bleeding-heart liberal. It was the Golden Nineties (a great time to be a kid) and, what, with World Peace and domestic prosperity and the promise of huge leaps forward in technology, there was reason to be hopeful about humanity, even if it was naive.

My teenage years corresponded almost perfectly with the downturn in world events during the next...shall we say "character building" decade. My childhood optimism and romanticism lead me to find religion, but on the same token I also became increasingly personally conservative, rigid, angsty and sexually frustrated.

But a series of realizations in just the past couple years got me to the point where I am today that I now reflect on in writing this blog.

However, the lessons learned in each part of your life never really go away, and you should never deny your roots, your true self.

I found this video today that brings me back to the original spirit of 90's hope and childhood innocence:

Interestingly, they skip over the verse that says, "Thoughts occur that this night might, stay yesterday. Thoughts that we as humans small, could slow worlds, and end it all..." It's a shame, really; there must always be that dash of cautionary realism. But I guess they felt it didn't fit the message they were trying to convey.

But, anyway, if anyone asked whether anything good can come from the American media...I'd say that, for all the agendas I'd have to look at more cynically now...I learned a whole helluva lot from PBS kids shows about tolerance and dealing with my emotions and imbibed a general sense of active imagination, a wonder about the world, and benevolence towards all people that has flickered on even in my darkest hours. I was alienated from that for a long time, and learned a lot of other important things in the interim to be sure, but it's good to be home. How is it that adults, who are not happy, can be so blind but little children can know so much?

Fred Rogers was practically a Saint, and perhaps one of the only reasons why there is anything to hope for from the younger generations. I'm always moved by his now famous testimony to Congress, especially the part about, "if we[...]can only make it clear that feelings are mentionable and manageable, we will have done a great service for mental health":

And his acceptance speech for his Lifetime Achievement Award at the Daytime Emmy's is so simple and so humble and so beautiful it makes me cry:

Of course some conservatives don't like his message at all. But, that's why I hate Fox News and its fans. Some people say that Fox clip was meant to be tongue-in-cheek (I'm not so sure), but that attitude truly does exist out there, in the conservative Catholic world no less: (though some of the comments on that post are great refutations of that attitude, especially the one about needing to replace guilt with love).


FrGregACCA said...

"A sinner" you may be, as are we all, but you're a good man, Charlie Brown (I thought about saying "or woman", but I'm pretty sure you are male. I could be wrong, of course.)

A Sinner said...

Thanks. (Yes, I'm a guy, lol)

Michael Desnick said...

It's really ironic that these Fox News people have the gall to call Fred Rogers' viewers "Narcissistic". The way their polished suits and unctuous hair glisten in the lighting, especially on the Brown-haired guy who isn't Steve Doocy, makes you wonder who's really trying to be more than they are. Normally I'm not as outraged or condemnatory, but for some reason this clip really struck a nerve, probably because their self-righteous attempt to take the moral high-ground against Fred Rogers is about as prudent as having an argument with a dining room table.

Mark of the Vineyard said...

I grew up on Mr. Rodgers and fairy-tales (this in the 80's; I was already a teen in the 90's). I think that especially the fairy-tales were what provided some sort of unconcious moral backdrop for my life even in my heathen days. As for dealing with feelings, only in my mid-20's did I finally realize that I did not know how to deal with mine, and that my family had never taught me anything about that (except by way of negative example, which also is not good). I think that it is extremely important to learn how to deal with one's own emotions, especially given the fact that we have no control over them. I think a lot of people wince when mention is made of talking about "feelings" because they imagine that we all just want to feel all warm and fuzzy inside and that if we get that, everything will be all right; either that or they themselves do not wish to delve into those waters. Why do I consider it important? Because I am of the opinion that most of one's venial sins, to a certain extent, stem from not knowing how to deal with one's emotions, and so we react instead of acting, which makes us less free. This self-knowledge can help one, with the grace of God, to sublimate those sinful reactions.
Just my two cents.

A Sinner said...

lol, Mike, that Fox clip really struck a nerve with me too. They're acting like those 10-year-olds who, having just outgrown early childhood...tease and make fun of it as a demonstration of their new found "maturity".

That some conservatives don't like Fred Roger's message just because it isn't all fire and brimstone and war and arrogance...well, I think it is just incredible unintentional self-parody of their own immaturity (and, I would suggest, fragile masculinities). They've become their own caricature.

I am of the same opinion regarding coming to terms with and regulating emotions, Mark of the Vineyard. If you read the Fathers and such...a lot of concern goes into regulating and rightly ordering the Passions, irascible and concupiscible.

Sin stems from the capital vices (which in many ways can be seen as emotional predispositions)...and at the same time, exacerbates them (because what you choose to nuture...will grow), in a self-escalating cycle. The same is true for virtue and concrete works of charity.

This gets into Virtue Ethics, which is something implicit enough in most of what I write, but which I need to do an explicit post on soon: the idea that morality isn't about acts or consequences or even intentions in themselves...but about the Character of the agent, whether the act makes them a better conduit for love or not in the psychological/spiritual sense.

Doing something that tends to condition you to be more prideful, envious, greedy, lustful, slothful, gluttonous, or wrathful...are what we call Sins, for those vices are what prevent us from showing love to others in the purest manner.