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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Principle and Conviction

Today, I asked the Mindhive to share their definition of principles and convictions. I inquired as to what they had given up because of strongly held beliefs. It became an issue that my mind woke up to and hasn't been able to shake because of a comment on the place of faces on a page I used to frequent. "Used to" being the operative word. That page, along with quite a few others, are part of those things I've eschewed not just for my mental sanity, but for my emotional well-being as well. Toxicity is not a principle or conviction, but it's definitely something I'm willing to give up surrounding myself with.

 Which brings me back to the subject of most of my recent blog posts; sacrifice. I've learned over the past few years of either relinquishing things that give me a sense of calmness, serenity, or downright joy for the sake of health or humanity, that if the subject comes up whilst you are in the company of people who still participate in the aforementioned activities, eyes begin to roll. After giving up two things that I have dearly loved (smoking and eating meat) for years now, I've seen an evolution of behaviors. Not just in myself, but in friends and acquaintances.

 I've learned that I AM stronger than I ever thought I could be when it comes to myself. I've always been a strong wife, a strong mother, strong friend. I've always been able to be present when it comes to my loved ones. If I can move heaven or earth to help, I will do that which must be done. Many times at the cost of my own health or safety, both physically and emotionally. But, I have learned in a short few years that I CAN stand strong in principles I've held strong beliefs in, but never seemed to have the conviction to make happen. I can, and have achieved that goal.

I've learned that I'm more willing to sacrifice for OTHERS than I am for myself.  I can and will give up my own happiness in order to save lives. I can and will give up my own joy in order to bring joy to someone else.  I can and will stand in the fray to fight for the rights of people I care about.  But buy your own tater tots and martinis. These are mine.  Unless you're starving. Have the tots. Hands off the Cosmo.

 As proud as I am of these past successes, I've also learned that it has a bit of a snowball effect. I don't know if it's the times we're living in, or if it's just a level of late maturation. I do credit the current political climate and the horrific administration now in power in this country with opening my eyes in a big way. Everything that is being torn down and the uproar over that, and yet, I don't see a lot of change where, in my opinion, it counts. It's easier now for me to see more clearly that:

1. You can't complain if you're not willing to change.
2. Hypocrisy takes many forms and I've been very guilty of it in ways that make me ashamed.
3. It hurts WAY more when you know you've been complicit in the participation of causing harm and it's taken you your whole life to see it.
4. The more you've given up, the easier it is to continue to give up that which you know in your heart isn't right.

I've given up 3 major things in my life in my 50s. One of those things I wish I had never started. The second thing, I wish I'd given up sooner. The third thing is one of baby steps. I've given up a portion of it because I cannot take an oath to a cause when I don't think they're really adhering to their own stated principles, but I remain loyal to the mission statement. Baby steps.

 Now, Charlie and I stand on the precipice of giving up something we dearly love; cruising. Having discovered the extent of their atrocities and their criminal activity to cover it up, we can't in good conscience continue to participate or be complicit. We all know that money talks, and though Charlie's and my hard-earned vacation dollars are a drop in the bucket to them, at this point, it's the only way we know of to let them know we're no longer on board, pun intended. We're sad beyond the face value of this. It means we will not see friends that we've made over our decades of cruising. It means that we will more than likely not see the places we would likely have seen for a lot less money. It means that the one vacation value that we've always treasured is no longer a joy we will have. 

Therein also lies a measure of hypocrisy that I have had to face. In my heart of hearts, the ocean girl in me knew, even though I claimed to do my due diligence by being one of the first to sign up for their "Behind The Fun" tour many years ago, where they showed us their recycling and water treatment plants and lied to us about their commitment to be environmentally responsible, I knew. I have spent my life in, on, near, and surrounded by Mama Ocean. I have claimed to love her, to revere her, to respect her. But I loved to cruise and I didn't want to sacrifice the one thing that Charlie and I have enjoyed beyond measure. And way down deep, I always knew and I turned my face away from the truth. I buried my head in the sand. This whole environmental travesty has blown up in my face and I can no longer ignore the devastation I've been a party to.

This is no different to me than the explosion of truth that blew up in my face and caused me to give up eating meat. The years I turned my eyes away from the horrific slaughter of innocents because "that's what they're here for" could no longer be denied. The guilt is overwhelming at times. This is one of those times. I'm good at guilt. I'm even better at punishing myself. But now, I see that I'm stronger than I thought I was. I've sacrificed. I'll survive. My one fervent wish is that in the process of "survival", some good will come of the change, however small it may be.

 "It is a long way from the said to the done." - Sicilian Proverb