At the age of 66, novelist and poet May Sarton, was diagnosed with breast cancer, went through a mastectomy, ended a long time relationship, and suffered from depression.
Out of that she wrote one of her best books, Recovering: A Journal. She was obviously hurt and angry about all that had happened to her. But she was determined to understand what it meant and how she should respond. She struggled through every raw emotion in an attempt to remain human.
“We cannot withdraw love without damaging ourselves,” she wrote. “Rage,” she continued, “is the deprived infant in me but there is also a compassionate mother in me and she will come back with her healing powers in time.”
It is a message of hope for the country.
There is so much cold anger today; so much unacknowledged hurt and pain. You see it everywhere. You feel it from people in traffic, at store counters, and certainly on social media platforms, especially Twitter and Facebook. Some things there are vicious and cruel.
We seem deeply estranged from one another, and from the best within each of us. We have taken sides in politics, in religion, in race, in class and social status. We are no longer interested in agreement, compromise, understanding or cooperation.
And we don’t just want to be right, and win; we want the other side to be proven wrong and to be shamefully defeated.
We must stop wounding one another, our country, and our world. We must find ways to “recover,” to get beyond our grimmest fears and our impulsive, careless anger.
Our children and grandchildren are growing up in bewilderment. They don’t know what to make of our incessant rage, our sniping and cutting remarks, our refusal to sensibly respond to people we strongly disagree with. They are watching. And they are learning all the wrong lessons from us.
Social critic and author, Frederic Brussat, has said, “Now more than ever we need a revival of courtesy practices to lubricate both private and public interactions between people.”
We seem completely uninterested in this as though being courteous to others, all others, even those we dislike and disagree with, somehow discredits us, makes us weak, leaves us vulnerable and defenseless.
Not so. Being courteous comes from inner strength, from thoughtfulness, consideration of others, and self-respect.
I find myself withering from the endless bitterness and resentment of people and from our leaders. Somehow we must find our inner decency, the mother in us with her healing powers, and a sense of the sacredness within ourselves, which as May Sarton wrote, “cannot be dirtied or smudged by wickedness or by anger, which no threat can touch.”
© 2017 Timothy Moody