Tuesday, November 8

Being Gentle But Effective When Expressing Our Point of View 11/8/11

When the last drop of rain has fallen, and the final
 note has drifted away/When the Earth ceases to turn
and the last fire is burned/When the wind stops its
ceaseless blowing and the last wave has come into
shore/When the sun’s called it a day and the stars
 have all floated away/When time is no longer tick-
ing and the hourglass runs out of sand/His love
 remains, like an endless flame burning, God's
love remains! (Avalon song ‘Love Remains’)
         A few weeks ago, I grew.

      It happened at an indoor sports arena that has a  bar. It's the Bladium, in Ala-meda. It has rinks for hockey and lacrosse. There are courts for basketball and volleyball. Indoor rock climbing hap-pens there, too. I went there to exercise my eyes. 

         There's a large screen TV at the bar. 

         I don't miss the contraption.  But, seeing my team play football is sacred. You know where I live. You guess correctly if you think I root for the team that represents the City by the Bay.  You probably hear Tony Bennett singing in the background.

            I settled in.  Watching the game at the closest table facing the large screen TV.  There were others there, taking in the contest.  My team competed against the undefeated Detroit Lions.

        A thrilling game it was.  Not decided until the final seven min-utes.  In the last quarter, the quar-terback threw a clutch touch-down pass.  The receiver barely flopped across goal line, adding to their lead. 

        With a few minutes remaining, the restaurant owner changed the channel.  He put on the Oakland Raiders game.  His team.

                  Seven years ago---without recovery---I would have accepted his action.  I might have given a feeble protest.  I would reason it was his business.  He could do whatever he wanted.

         Keep in mind, I had been watching the game for two and a half hours.  Many of us in the room had been actively involved.  None in the crowded room watching the game were asked if they wanted to see a different game.  The owner changed channels because he wanted to. 
         I went to his wife.  She worked behind the bar.  I inquired about the change of games.  She didn't know any-thing about it.  "My husband is in the back, cooking," she said, when I asked where he was.  

          I was a hot, indig-nant.  However, I took slow, deep breaths while with her.  I spoke with a measured voice to Mrs. Restaurant Owner. I placed my palms down, releasing my anger (see this to better understand) and frustration as I spoke.  

          I waited for the proprietor to appear.

                    Mr. Restaurant Owner emerged from the kitchen.  The wife spoke to him in Spanish.  They didn't know I understand that language.  I looked around as they com-municated, not indicating I understood them.  She spoke as my advocate. Finally he said to me, "The TV is for customers."

                  Only a soda had I bought.  He knew that.  The cook-owner added, "I don't like the Niners."  I pointed over to the tabled area, where the TV sat.  "Nobody is watching the Oakland game.  
       There were other people there, before," I said.  Calmly, I looked into his eyes. Clint East-wood was my model.  I muster-ed the most even voice possible.

       Abruptly, he jerkily strode across the room, towards the TV.  He changed the channel to the Niners game.  I sat down, thankful.  Recovery has taught to say what I mean, mean what I say but not to say it meanly.

               Within minutes, there was a crowd where I was, in-tently watching the game.  

        They boisterously encouraged the San Francisco team as it earned their win.  When the channel was switched, this crowd had left.  Included in the returning group were young uniformed soldiers, rooting for our team. They were groomed for combat. The were willing to lay their lives on the line, if necessary.  
     But they were fearful to con-front the owner of the bar.  Not a word did these soldiers say.  They allowed one person to overrule the desires of more than thirty people.  

        Passively, without a word, these soldiers gave in.  They had no qualms about the owner changing the channel. Even if it was during the crucial remaining portion of the football game.  This business owner's actions did not represent the democracy for which they were willing to sacrifice their lives. 

                A guy at the table behind me, witnessed my talk with Mr. Proprietor.  He returned to see the final minutes played.  He called out, "See what you did?  You made a lot of people happy by talking with that guy." 

My reflections about this day's events continues in the gratitudes:

Gratitudes for Today:
1. I'm thankful my character is still growing.  Petulance is not necessary when circumstances aren't as I'd like.  As adults, we can disagree, agreeably.  We can kindly speak our truth.
2. I'm thankful for staying pre-sent when the TV channel was changed.  I took deep breaths.  I released my an-ger. To God.  He can handle it.No, I wasn't mad at God.  I turned over my negative feelings to Him.  I left them into his loving care.
3.  I'm glad I was considerate towards Mrs. Business Own-er.  Because I was, she influenced her husband.  She spoke on my behalf. 
4. When I made my request to the restaurant owner, I was careful. I did not offend him.
        Gently, I approached him.  I did this while holding to my values. There's no need for harshness, when differing with others. When expressing a different perspective, that, in itself, can be hard for another to take.
        Adding discomfort, emphatically twisting the knife of my perceptions----that I am right----within the person I disagree with, is not necessary.  
        Nor is it effective.  
        It does not provide the emotional safety, courtesy and harmony necessary for healthy relationships.  I value St. Augustine's perspective:
"The truth is like a lion. You do not have to defend it. Let it lose. it will defend itself."
             The truth has its own teeth.  It is often uncomforta-ble, as it is.  I honor another's dignity when I'm courteous while stating my case.
5. When I watched my team play a week later, at the Bladi-um, I bought a complete meal.  I gave a 25% tip. I got along superbly with Mr.and Mrs. Business Owner. 

            And my team won its sixth game in a row.

            Oh yeah---the TV was turned on to the San Francisco Forty Niner football game, when I walked in.
Image: "Cumbria: Across Windmere" by Tim Blessed. all rights reserved, used by permission.
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