Younger women — under 35 — may find this odd, but not so many years ago, a married woman did not appear on a credit card account as a real person.
As the wife of her husband, she was presumably allowed to use the card with his permission, but she didn’t really count, and she certainly couldn’t make changes, dispute charges, or talk to a customer service representative (who were real people, not computerized voices) about the account. If she could get a card with her name on it, that was a coup indeed.
I’m not that old, you know, and I remember living under this system. And I am remarkably grateful that things have changed.
Things do change, these days incredibly quickly, and what was the norm ten years ago is archaic now. In the case of credit cards and women being recognized as real people, the changes are positive, but sometimes the changes are so many, and so fast, that they overwhelm.
Before my father passed away, we watched movies together — on TV, not the phone or computer — and after a commercial break he would ask me, “What, exactly, were they selling?”
Frequently, I could not answer. The commercial featured lights, pulsating music, sullen women and metro-men, terse commentary, and a web address at the end, but what was being hawked could have been a car or cookies, software or underwear, corn or computer chips — the emphasis was on emotion as opposed to information; sensation, not knowledge.
So, also, is much of life’s ongoing change presented to us: “news” consists of short bites of sound and imagery, remarkably similar to a car commercial, and any major event is long on commentary and short on actual facts.
In the end, we are bullied and pummeled into accepting specific opinions on guns, gender definitions, marriage, freedom of speech, genetically modified food, domestic and foreign terrorism, medical care, health insurance, or how many eggs we should eat a week not based on actual information, but on carefully chosen, selectively screened “human interest stories.”
If there are stories about humans who do not mesh into what a particular media source thinks we should be hearing, then they are of no interest.
But within this panoply of noise and pressure and mis-information, one thing does not change, and that is human behavior, which has a tendency toward greed, avarice, selfishness, and deceit, and requires conscious decision on each individual’s part to develop and nurture our better side of compassion, thoughtfulness, humility, mercy, honesty and kindness.
Good or bad, the results of human behavior are fruit, and if we remember that, no matter what anyone says, apples come from apple trees, and oranges come from orange trees, then we can eliminate some of the confusion caused by everything that we are reading and hearing and experiencing in this rapidly changing world of ours.
- If someone implies — or states — that you are stupid, or insensitive, or threatening, or dangerous because you believe differently from how he believes that you should believe — then he is manipulating.
- If someone says one thing but does another — she’s lying.
- If someone pushes you — or Congress — to make a fast decision before all of your questions have been answered, and accuses you of standing in the way of progress when you hesitate — then he is bullying.
- If someone presents some of the facts, but deliberately holds back on others, — she is practicing deceit.
Manipulation, lying, bullying, deceit — these are bad fruits that we accept as norms in our society, but we don’t have to. First, we start with ourselves — identifying and seeking the good elements of our nature and enabling them to grow. Then, once we recognize these attributes, we look for, and demand them in others — our businesses, our schools, our churches, our government.
And when someone tosses a handful of raisins in our face and tells us that they are watermelons, we don’t believe them.