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Thursday, April 7, 2011

On NOT Being A Squid

I am not a squid.

I'm not often confused for one of these odd little creatures. There is not much of a physical resemblance. And if you have noticed one, I don't want to know. Likewise, I don't act much like a squid. And I rarely think of squid.

Squid have this thing they do. They squirt ink. Offensive, defensive, nervous, anxious, angry.

Today I had an squidly impulse.

Deeply hurt, I had an urge to do the squid thing.

I didn't, of course, but that the thought even occurred to me was disturbing. The temptations we face to be vindictive, to return evil for evil, to strike back, to squirt ink into an unspoiled pool are a part of our nature, our brokenness.

The art of being human is managing those impulses.

And this: giving other people the space to be themselves.

Why is that so hard? To simply let other people be who they are.

Barring behavior that is harmful and hurtful and, oh dear, here we go, I'm sliding down the slippery slope right along with you. Where is the line? Who decides? When is it crossed?

I have an idea. How about we tell people.

I'm not talking about the big big things -- although we can talk about that tomorrow -- but about our life together, daily life among friends, colleagues, neighbors, just folks. How about we tell folks what we need, or when they are standing on our feet. Directly. Kindly. Professionally.

I've been thinking about this a bunch. Be passive. Or be aggressive. But not both at the same time.

Passive-aggressive behavior is the biggest block to positive relationships I can think of. If you're annoyed but you can stand whatever it is, keep quiet. And cope with it. If you're annoyed and you can't stand it, for god's sake, speak up. Say something. In a timely fashion. Honestly, kindly, professionally.

Don't be a squid. Don't be passive-aggressive. (Have I ever written so directly?) It ruins so much.

At the same time, passive-aggressive behavior brings out the squid in us. In me. Squids beget squids. I kept my ink to myself.

Until now. A different kind of ink. I'm being direct: Let's live in forebearance, patience, kindness, and grace. That's the ink I have to spill today. Enough.

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