Friday, April 22, 2011

impeccable words, part 2

In the comments, Delia hit on the main thing that was bugging me about that post, which is the moral perfectionism involved in setting up some kind of ideal of being "impeccable" with my words, or with anything for that matter.  We're human beings, we're not gonna achieve perfection of any kind, unless it is of the "being perfectly ourselves" kind.  Striving for moral perfection leads to holier-than-thou-ness, which leads to all kinds of problems.

But there's a tension here, too.  Because even if  we're not going to achieve it, I think there is some use in thinking about this, especially this particular issue.  Probably everybody has their own list of what is important to them in terms of ethical standards, and "using words responsibly" is high on my list.  Off the top of my head, I think I would even say it is #1.  I will never do it perfectly, but I already do it better than I used to just because I'm more aware of it.  And I would like to continue to improve.  Honesty and integrity are important. 

Maybe where I got off was in using the phrase from The Four Agreements (which is not religious, in case you didn't click on the link to find out).  Maybe I should have just used that as my jumping off point and come up with my own phrase, because "impeccable" does bother me.  It's just a little too .... high-minded, maybe.  Chilly.  Good-goody.  I almost re-wrote the post, because after thinking about it more, I understand it differently. But I ended up leaving it as is. It still stands as an impetus to think about how I use my words.  I feel like a toddler, using my words.  "Use your words, sweetie," is something I must have said a thousand times to my kids.

But the other thing that happened with that post-- as with many of my posts-- is something that is just my own neurosis. I post something, and then I feel like I've set myself up as someone with "Something to Say" on an issue.  Who am I to think that I can set myself up as someone whose opinion matters? would be the most blunt way to state it, although that is overstating the case to make the point, because of course technically I believe everyone's opinion matters, and the religion of my past does, too.  Technically.  So making a statement like some of these blog posts do, even when it's pretty mild, triggers a reaction from my past.  I absorbed all kinds of ambivalence about having my own opinions.  I would have laughed at you if you said that to me, because of course I had chosen my opinions!  No one forced me to believe the things I believed!  Or so I thought, until I began realize how much pressure there was in the air that you breathe in that kind of environment.

So not to get off on that again... just explaining a bit of what happens when I post these things, and then panic a couple of hours later and want to immediately delete them.


  1. and p.s. the reason I said this is my own neurosis is because I know plenty of opinionated, strong-minded, independent women who are Evangelical Christians. Including my sisters, so I can't even blame it on my family. It's a combination of me and the environment, although I don't think I'm the only one from a fundamentalist past who has to deal with this particular problem.

  2. Ooooh, it's a dilemma for sure. On the one hand, really who the hell are we to state anything? Opposing hand: we are brilliant, vibrant, interesting women with fabulous things to say!

    Yep, it's difficult. But... please, no more deleting. The stuff you toss out here is fascinating, and ALWAYS thought provoking. And ya know, I like it.

  3. thanks, Julie, that is just exactly what I needed to hear tonight. :-)