we doth protest

IMG_1529Guys, there is so much going on in the world right now, I don’t even know where to start. One thing is certain: we all deserve to be given the opportunity to make things right. For example, look at the sign above. This local restaurant decided they weren’t a hibachi place anymore; rather than get a new awning, they painted over the lettering with blue marker. I like to believe that one day, they will do the right thing and pay to get a new sign.

My Chisel instructor is on hiatus again. The guy I wrote about in this post is subbing in, which means I’ll be sitting out.

This also means I won’t hit my strength training goal for the week, because outside of this one exercise class, I refuse to lift anything. I’m not the only one who skips class when Sam is out rock climbing or saving kittens or whatever it is fitness instructors do when they’re not making other people sweat. The sub often comments on this and I’m not sure what to say, but the other two people in the class don’t anything and I want to make him feel better, so I usually babble something like this: “Well, you know, class attendance ebbs and flows. I mean, I myself couldn’t come for a while due to work and…” You get the idea.

My words peter out and I stop talking because I realize that the more I try to rationalize the sparse attendance, the more patronizing and consolatory I sound. The lady doth protest too much! He can see right through me. No one likes his teaching style and he knows it.

This version of protesting-too-much comes from a place of wanting to be nice, wanting to make someone feel better. It’s said with the same intention as a phrase that is often repeated at dinner parties: “This is really good. No, really, I mean it, it’s really good.” Yeah, sure it is. That probably means they hate it. Just say thank you and move on to dessert.

There is a version of protesting too much that comes from a bad, slimy place, however, and I was reminded of this yesterday while watching “The Mindy Project.” A year or so ago, I texted a former colleague with an industry-related question and he answered me – super helpful – and then texted me a second time with a kiss-blowing Emoji. Not helpful. This is from the same guy who had repeatedly proclaimed, in bars and in the office, “There’s no place on earth for scum like that!” – or something to that effect – referring to cheaters and beaters. He then proceeded to elaborate on his disgust for another few minutes before turning his attention to something more profane, like football.

It was odd. Nobody there had asked him his opinion about male adulterers but this was clearly a subject he felt strongly about. So strongly that, even though no one was talking about it, he felt compelled to repeat it a few times. “This guy doth protest too much,” I thought to myself. Then I said to myself, “No, I doubt he’s cheating on his wife. That would be too obvious. Maybe he really does just feel very strongly about it.”

You know what? I feel strongly about cigarettes. I hate them and I don’t want them near me and sometimes I’ll go on a mini-rant about it if I’m forced to sit near smokers. You know why I feel so strongly? Because I used to smoke.

My point is this: I don’t care if you cheat on your spouse or partner or whoever. I don’t really care what anyone does in their private life as long as they’re not hurting other people in the global sense. Cheating hurts, I know. But so does having to listen to people lie to themselves about their nature and their unwillingness to change it. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

There are other kinds of protests, too, like the one going on in Hong Kong and the ones that don’t get reported with frequency anymore: in Israel, in Missouri, in Egypt, in Gaza. These people are not protesting too much – they are trying to be heard in countries with leadership that has gone deaf – and they should protest as loudly and vehemently as possible.

Not every country is or should be a democracy, but everyone deserves to be listened to. Almost everyone, anyway. Maybe not the adulterers. Here’s another way to look at it, though, in government as well as in our personal lives: sometimes people make mistakes. Before we write them off, let’s give them the chance to make things right.

Like with my Chisel class. Sam will come back from building houses in third world countries and make the class good again, I will strength train, and then my doctor will be proud. I won’t have to lie to her and say things like, “I’m strength training once a week, really I am!” Sam will make the world right again in his own small way and I’ll be able to breathe easier at night – at least until I read the newspaper.

 

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