I am a true believer. So what do I mean by that?
When I was in the midst of my existential crisis/midlife career crisis a few years ago now, my so supportive husband said to me that I was a true believer when I was in a position to hear this. Mr.C5 is truly amazing in not giving me advice when I just would not be in a state to truly hear it. You know what I mean.We have all been there.
I was like what? What does that mean? What is a true believer exactly, not being familiar with the phrase, except of course what could be deduced as a literal interpretation. He explained it to me at that time but of course I have since forgotten the details of this. It just so happened that a very dear friend of mine recently referred to me as same and so I was like I can’t remember what that really means and could not explain it to others let alone myself, so I thought I had better ask the hubby for a refresher lesson on this.
I normally would do a net search to find out what might the internet tell me about this concept. But I have not bothered doing this with this term since I am pretty sure very religious interpretations would present themselves, likely organized religion, which I have little patience for at times.
So here is the conversation we had.
“A true believer is a belief in how the world should be with no room for deviation”.
I asked “like an ideology or a religion?”
“Yes. Mainly utopian in nature. Following those beliefs you (meaning me) are willing to do things even if they come at a cost to yourself (again me).”
I said “like my mental health or physical safety”.
I replied “like when I am not willing to compromise, or when I am dogmatic about something.” (I would always say I am dogmatic about my yoga. I practice kundalini yoga which is rare compared to all the yatha type yogas.)
He referred to it as a personality type and “with that personality type it doesn’t matter what the belief happens to be, just that the person really believes it”.
I thought of it as being principled, how I try to live my life as much as I can by my principles.
He continued, “Getting together with you, I might not have agreed with certain parts of your belief system or politics but I recognized another person in that category whose mind works… another person that would fit into that personality type of being a true believer. And it was just because I am of the same type. For selfish reasons it is easier to deal with this and I would be more accepted for being this way too.”
Going back to the harm thing, “There is an intensity of personality so it can do great things or great harm to the world.” I clarified that the good & bad can be to oneself or individual, but also to the greater society or the collective. He said, “Yes but I mean more to the society.”
The harm to me is that I can be “a miserable person (I will at times) since the world won’t live up to my beliefs.”
“But it certainly does give you bravery. You go out and try to do the impossible”.
I responded, “like when you call me the pit bull”. “Yes, or the cantankerous bitch”. We both laughed. I can be so incredibly stubborn at times. I am a taurus afterall.
Mr.C5 added, “With you being a true believer, you would be far less likely to fuck me over because of expediency so if you were faced with a situation that might compromise your principles, you would not because there would be an extreme payment to your soul to do so. With my issue of lack of trust in people, your true believer nature gives me more trust in you because it keeps you from taking the easy way out.”
A final comment. “We are both black and white in a world of grey. Most people are grey.”
So clearly not a difficult concept to grasp but for some reason since it is a foreign way to describe myself, I just couldn’t grasp it. This reminds me of my encounters with the type of person who is passive aggressive. I have encountered very few people in my life who are like this I think, fortunately. Years ago, when another dear friend I was visiting once told me that my 2nd husband was so passive aggressive, when he & I were vacationing so this friend had never met him previously, I was like what? And then eventually wow. I finally got it. As you can imagine that relationship has ended.
Being a true believer as you can well imagine has presented its challenges. It has caused me unimaginable pain, of the emotional kind. However, I would never change this aspect of myself. I embrace it. I just feel so passionately about certain issues, such as social justice especially for the Original Peoples of this world, and of course for the non-human world where my heart breaks on a regular basis as species go extinct right before our very eyes or as I hear about horrific animal abuse, and of course child abuse, sex trafficking and similar, and the humongous amounts of innocent victims of war where there are now whole generations of young people who have never lived a day of peace (talk about a set up for a violent world).
I will never forget how I sobbed when last year, while on a 4 day river excursion in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, our young guide caught and Ross killed the most perfect creature – what turned out to be a 3-4 month old caiman (they are protected but the Peruvian government allows guides to hunt them for tourists to eat on a tour – I of course wasn’t aware of this at the time). I felt I saw in this animal the perfection of the animal world. And this creature moaned, as baby caimans, crocs and alligators do, the sound they emit to connect to their mothers (I know this from documentaries I have watched on these creatures). See blog post Part 3 – The Amazon jungle tour.
I am experiencing some of that harm in Barbados with my work with the partner organization and its leader. I had been forewarned about this leader, but I never imagined we would butt heads to the degree that we have. I will simply not tolerate being disrespected, dismissed, insulted by another especially if that person is in a leadership position AND they are a man. I know I could have dealt with some situations differently (doesn’t this often happen?) but I find that at times, this type of disrespect isn’t immediately apparent. Rather it is an ‘ickyness’ feeling that I experience and it takes me a while to realize what has transpired in a conversation that is now over. During the interaction I am often taken aback and have difficulty responding, needing time to digest what had just taken place. I also felt it towards the end of my posting in Peru when it became clear that my months of diligent hardwork were not going to amount to much in terms of some concrete change, of ideas that could have been adopted in the work the organization was doing. In this latter case, there was of course a feeling of disappointment, and of feeling not valued.
This is similar to a feeling of being intimidated. This is a very rare experience for me. Very few can intimidate me – people who know me are always surprised when I convey to them that such and such a person has made me feel intimidated, but on occasion it has happened, although again, I realize it has happened usually after the fact. Clearly my body reaction is telling me something but since I experience it so little, it is an uncommon sensation, albeit unpleasant.
Several people I know over the years have told me I should enter politics. I will admit I was flattered. And I did consider it because I certainly have the skill set of being good at public speaking, am a great networker/liaison person, someone who can schoomze with anyone, I am intelligent and I have a deep understanding of economics and politics and a variety of social issues, and of course I am passionate about these issues, something that my students always wrote about me in the course evaluations. These comments came during the course of my decades of activist activities.
I thought yes, what politics needs is someone like me. We desperately need more principled politicians, but the job is one of compromise or acquiescence to those with economic power depending on your point of view. I have a real problem with the current phenomena that being a politician is now a career instead of it being viewed as a temporary position, and being the servant to the public and the common good. In my world, I would require of most adults, a time of service to their community at any level of politics/public service, where they would have their living expenses covered (including that of their family) but not receiving any special perks or other financial compensation, and that they would be able to return to their former employment without penalty, kinda like an extended jury duty.
I realized that I could never play that game. The detachment, the facade, is so plain to see as when the CEO of a corporation lays off hundreds if not thousands of workers with in essence the stroke of a pen. The sociopath at work (see the documentary, The Corporation, and Dr. Robert Hare’s sociopath checklist – fascinating stuff providing so much insight into how the leadership of capitalist economy works). I am just too principled and unwilling to compromise on so many issues, e.g. the environment takes precedence over the economics of a situation, but then I would live in a world where all had a guaranteed basic income with adequate shelter, free healthcare and education, so there would not be the case of one’s survival depended on needing to exploit the environment, there not being any choice.
So being a politician would so often put me up against my true believer self. I could not compromise my principles. This is not to say that I cannot be a negotiator, a mediator, a collaborator. I felt that I could best contribute by working in the background.
If anything I feel there is just too much compromising going on. We allow too much contradiction and hypocrisy in our lives, accept it as a part of being human, and to a certain extent this is a fact of life. But my threshhold to determine whether I would compromise my principles is far higher than a non true believer. If my fundamental principles are going to be compromised then I cannot abide by an action or decision that would result in this.
I have such compassion for the non-human world and for humanity, but in the latter case, I am also fine with humans’ place on the planet coming to an end. (Disclaimer: I do not have children by true choice, a question that is always thrown at me when this stuff comes up; I know plenty of people who do have children who feel the same as I do, so this is not a valid criticism, rather one that only serves to dismiss my perspective for those who take issue with my principles). I of course have some faith in humanity because I continue to seek to make the world a better place, working with community organizations. If I had no faith I would not continue to be a social change agent nor encourage others, especially my students to be this way.
This reminds me of when I once was called a warrior woman by a very dear friend at the time, an ‘Elder’ in His First Nations. I write Elder in quotes because I am not certain if His Nation has bestowed upon Him that title. In any event, I felt this was an accurate descriptor. I am a warrior in the true essence of the term. From my reading of warriorship in First Nations writing/culture, a warrior will always seek out nonviolent solutions to the conflicts that present themselves. However at a certain point defense of said peoples must take place and this may indeed require violence. I have no issue with this. I previously would have. Through my initial years/decades of activism, it was there that I was introduced to nonviolence, and for a long time I wholeheartedly supported this philosophy, strategy and tactic. However eventually I came to the conclusion that violence may indeed be necessary when the situation becomes so dire. This is not the same as loyalty. To me loyalty can be very dangerous. I would never remain loyal to my family if there was a known abuser in the family, e.g. a domestic abuser and there was silence on this. Honesty trumps loyalty in this case. I would never have been one of those people saying ‘it is none of my business’. Yes it is when someone or an animal is being harmed.
Okay I think I am at the end of these thoughts. I haven’t felt as moved to write since being in Barbados for a variety of reasons. The place is small; with our farmsitters breaking the contract, my attention has been diverted to personal matters, the culture is somewhat closed to the outsider as it was in Lima and as it is in NS and the Maritimes. So I have not felt as stimulated by this place. I’m sure if I were to stay here longer, then my interaction with the culture and different peoples would have increased, and so more food for thought would have arisen. I also think I am tired. We are looking forward to returning to our farm despite the fact we are going to soothing warmth to tense frigidity.
One final comment that just struck me: Funny but I am now thinking that some folks might think I am actually displaying my true believer self in the above comments (I guess duh to me) as I am trying to justify my true believer self – oh the irony of it all!
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