Throwing Stones in Our Glass Houses

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throwing a stone
Go ahead and set that thing down. (Image/

I hurt my son once and had to take him to the hospital afterward.

When the little person I love most was just 3 or 4, he was doing the thing little kids do where they let their bodies go limp to protest another idiotic parenting command, like going inside the house to potty when they’d rather be outside playing.

When I went to lift him by his hand I’d been holding to get him up the back porch stairs, I yanked harder on his uncooperative little arm than I should have. He started crying and I probably didn’t care.

It didn’t take me long to start caring because he cried longer than kids do when they’re being needlessly dramatic. His elbow was hurt for real. And I caused it. Oh my God. I hurt my son.

His mom and I (we were still married then) took him to the emergency room at the local children’s hospital where I assumed I’d be arrested for child abuse, and the doctor would call me a monster, both of which would have bothered me less than the fact I’d hurt my child.

I wasn’t arrested, nor did the doc eye me suspiciously. Our son was feeling the pain of a slight dislocation so common to young children that it has a non-medical name: Nursemaid’s elbow.

By the next day, his elbow was totally fine.

But I’ll never forget how I felt in that emergency room, nor how I’ve felt any number of other times in which I’ve raised my voice in anger, either scaring him or making him cry.

It’s the same thing I felt when my wife would cry during an argument.

It’s the same thing I’ve (only on TV, fortunately) seen men do when they hit or push their wife or girlfriend resulting in serious injury or death.

One minute, you’re raging. And you say or do something that falls in the “I didn’t mean it” category once regret replaces the anger. And the next minute you feel sorrow. You feel the love and concern return, even though those feelings were absent when you were inflicting mental, emotional or physical damage.

So, which is it?

Who Are We?

Which of those is the Real Us? The angry one? Or the person insta-concerned about the wellbeing of the person they just verbally or physically assaulted?

I want to believe the genuinely concerned, not-angry version is. But I guess I don’t know.

You know what I think about people who physically hurt children? You know how I feel about men who make their wives or girlfriends cry during arguments?

I think they’re assholes, and since I generally trust my gut and opinions, the conclusion is obvious.

I’m an asshole, too.

Dear Assholes, We Can See Inside Your Glass Houses

A man armed with an assault rifle and handgun went inside a Florida nightclub this weekend and opened fire, murdering 49 people and hurting 53 others.

We hear that news, and 99 percent of all sane people are insta-horrified.

But then more details emerge:

The shooter targeted an Orlando nightclub called Pulse which is popular with the gay community.

The shooter worked for a security firm, had weapons training, and legally bought both of the guns recovered by police at a Florida gun shop.

The shooter—American-born but of Middle-Eastern descent—reportedly dialed 9-1-1 and pledged allegiance to ISIS immediately prior to the attack.

Then toss in the fact that an aspiring young pop singer was killed tragically in a random act of gun violence the night before in the same city.

THEN, add in that we’re in the most-heated presidential election in my lifetime during the age of social media.

Mix it all together, and you have a bubbling cauldron of anger, sadness, and fear, creating a massive batch of shit stew which I think might be unprecedented in size and scope from a political and social commentary standpoint.

Here’s what actually happened: A man deliberately took guns into a densely populated place where people were trying to have fun and murdered as many as possible.

What happened next was predictably stupid.

The anti-gun crowd wanted to scream about gun control. As if an ISIS-pledged terrorist couldn’t have used a bomb to kill even more people, and potentially still be alive and on the run.

The pro-gun crowd wanted to scream political conspiracy and opportunism. As if questioning whether a man like Omar Mateen (previously investigated by the FBI for potential terrorist ties) legally buying an assault weapon which he used to murder or hurt 100 people is somehow unfair.

The anti-Obama crowd criticized the president’s comments afterward, because he chose not to speculate on unconfirmed facts during a national address, and because he said things consistent with his well-established political opinions which got him elected President of the United States twice.

The pro-Obama crowd got butt-hurt about the president’s detractors as if he doesn’t have an equally well-established history of avoiding labeling acts of terrorism anything he deems politically incorrect.

Republicans blamed Democrats. If Obama and Hillary would get tough on terrorists, this wouldn’t have happened, some said. Which seems presumptuous.

Democrats blamed Republicans. Because all Republicans love gun violence, invite attacks through racism, promote bigotry by supporting Trump, and oppose marriage equality for gay couples? Please.

People internet-screamed for banning Muslims. Because Banning Things That Scare Us and pigeonholing entire groups of people has proven to be such a wise choice in the past.

Others internet-screamed that white Christians with guns commit way more mass shootings than brown-skinned Muslims. As if the teachings of Christ can in any way be linked to condoning murder.

And then all of that outrage caused even more “Yeah, but…!” internet-screaming.

Fringe members of the anti-religion crowd railed against Christians AND Muslims because organized religion is the real problem, they say. As if most religious people aren’t peaceful, or responsible for an ENORMOUS amount of good that’s done on behalf of humanitarian causes globally.

Fringe members of religious groups pounced on the opportunity to condemn the homosexual lifestyle. Because their sin and human failings are somehow more pure and noble than those of the gay community.

It’s healthy to acknowledge your assholeishness. You instantly become less of an asshole the second you do so, as a self-aware asshole is infinitely more tolerable than a self-righteous one.

Few things anger me like hypocrisy and unfairness. Who sucks more than the Holier-Than-Thou crowd?

The self-righteousness on display from people politicizing a mass murder is as disgusting and nauseating a thing as I’ve ever witnessed.

I hope Muslims understand why random acts of violence in the name of terrorism is a scary thing for the average American family, and ignorant people sometimes have a guilt-by-association mentality about it. I’m Catholic. For the rest of my life, I have to answer questions about the systematic cover up of a vast sex-abuse scandal within my faith.

Even though zero Catholic or Christian teachings say: “Sexually abusing kids is okay!,” and even though the vast majority of Catholic priests are fantastic, kind, principled men who make enormous personal sacrifices to serve as spiritual leaders and would never harm a child, Catholics—especially Catholic priests—must now deal with the scrutiny and questions about child molestation. It unfairly comes with the territory.

I know what it’s like to have people make ignorant assumptions about what they think my beliefs are.

I’m no expert on Islam, but my rudimentary understanding is that it is a religion which promotes peace, and condemns violence. Extremist violence is rooted in politics—not faith. According to things I’ve read, the word “Jihad,” is SUPPOSED to mean “to struggle for God.” To live well, spiritually. It’s HARD to walk the walk in our spiritual lives. It requires commitment and discipline. That’s something I understand and can relate to.

And now the word has been compromised. An ancient teaching to fight against oppression has been perverted by some into “kill anyone who doesn’t agree with us.”

People do bad things. Others get scared. The scared people do bad things in response. And round and round we go. You know, like the breakdown of pretty much every marriage that ends badly.

Every person alive is someone who had ZERO say in where they were born, who their parents are, how they were raised, or what they were taught by their childhood influencers and adult behavioral models.

I’m in no way condoning ignorance, stupidity, and certainly not behavior which harms other people. But human beings are a little bit hamstrung by the whole We Can’t Know What We Don’t Know thing.

We are born.

If we’re lucky, we have parents who love and care for us and teach us things which help us grow into functional people who contribute positively.

If we’re unlucky, we don’t have parents who do those things.

In EITHER case, we only know what we see, read, hear, feel, experience, and are taught by the people who earn our trust. We only know as much as we can with the resources of our schools, or books we have access to, or teachers who share knowledge, etc.

There are exceptions, but we by and large grow up following in the footsteps of our parents and the people who surround us growing up.

Children born to Buddhist parents in Thailand tend to grow up practicing Buddhism.

Children born to Hindu parents in India tend to grow up practicing Hinduism.

Children born to Muslim parents in Iran tend to grow up adhering to Islamic teachings.

Children born to Christian parents in Texas tend to grow up practicing Christianity.

Children born to Jewish parents in New York tend to grow up practicing Judaism.

Maybe kids raised by gay couples think having a mom and dad is weird.

Maybe kids raised by atheists need to witness a miracle to believe in God.

Maybe kids raised by liberal parents in San Francisco can’t help but think the kid raised by conservative parents in Utah is a bigoted, oppressive, close-minded and dangerous fascist, and maybe the Utah kid can’t help but think the liberal kid is a Constitution-hating, baby-killing, unholy and dangerous Marxist.

How to Be Less Assholeish

Maybe we could try not hating or being afraid of people who disagree with us. One of the best things I’ve ever done (and this is mostly in the past three years following my Ah-Ha Moment RE: shitty husbandry) is learn to embrace trying to understand people who disagree with me.

It’s hard and it’s scary, but it’s worth it.

Possible outcomes:

  1. You learn something you didn’t know.
  2. You teach someone something they didn’t know.
  3. You eliminate a false belief or help someone else do so.

All of these are good things.

People are afraid of terrorism, so they demonize religion.

People are afraid of societal desensitization to and acceptance of openly homosexual relationships, because they believe it’s immoral.

One asshole pastor in California reportedly said the shooting victims in Orlando got what they deserved. He posits that because they were in a gay club and presumably homosexual, that they were an immoral scourge on society who deserved to be murdered.


Any Christians out there wondering why people lacking good information about Christianity who read that might frown upon Christianity and perpetuate false beliefs afterward?

Anyone wondering why gay people might feel hated or oppressed, and how that seems to clash with purported Christian beliefs?

Anyone out there connecting dots about how hateful actions in the name of other religions might paint similarly inaccurate and unfair pictures of certain people?

Anyone out there think God hates people dancing in a club, but loves church leaders who casually dismiss mass murder?

Anyone out there wondering whether THAT might be the problem?

The exact same thing that happens to so many married couples—people who VOWED to love one another forever? Is it any wonder two strangers from opposing camps or opposite sides of the world have conflict?


We all live in glass houses, messing up, and feeling fear, and falling short.

They’re not the only ones messing up. Maybe we can encourage them.

They’re not the only ones afraid of things they don’t understand. Maybe we can comfort them.

They’re not the only ones falling short. Maybe we can let them jump on our shoulders.

And maybe they’ll offer the same in return.

And maybe we’ll have the strength because we finally stopped throwing stones.


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55 thoughts on “Throwing Stones in Our Glass Houses”

    1. I agree! 🙂

      I really wish we could normalize *admitting* things like this. Too often we split the world into evil child abusers and good parents, and other black and white kinds of categories. Which makes it even harder for people who have raged at their kids, yanked their arm too hard, even slapped them once to admit it. And then of course, it’s much easier that it happens again, and the kid rarely gets some kind og retribution because the parent doesn’t take responsibility and ownership for the behaviour and apologozes (which helps restore health and self worth to the child), and then of course the parent doesn’t take responsibility to do whatever necessary to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I do not mean to condone these things, to say that it’s no biggie if you slap your kid or whatever, I mean admitting it without everyone thinking you’re a monster. The world is full of gray areas, we’ve all done bad shit, and we’re all capeable of bad bad bad shit.

      Like I’ve said before on this blog (and sadly, this is far from my most harmful and shameful behaviour), I slapped my sibling on the arm in anger. I’m not talking about when we were kids, I was in my early twenties. I mean, this is illegal, it’s violence. It was wrong, I regret it, I’ve taken steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But honestly, does this make me some kind of violent sadist psycho that’s a menace to society? I doubt it.

      Matt, you said:
      “But I’ll never forget how I felt in that emergency room, nor how I’ve felt any number of other times in which I’ve raised my voice in anger, either scaring him or making him cry.

      It’s the same thing I felt when my wife would cry during an argument.

      It’s the same thing I’ve (only on TV, fortunately) seen men do when they hit or push their wife or girlfriend resulting in serious injury or death.

      One minute, you’re raging. And you say or do something that falls in the “I didn’t mean it” category once regret replaces the anger. And the next minute you feel sorrow. You feel the love and concern return, even though those feelings were absent when you were inflicting mental, emotional or physical damage.”

      If you wouldn’t mind clarifying, in the “My wife is irrationoal” post you said this though:
      “If we fought long enough, she would just cry, at which time I thought she was unstable, but had an easier time speaking with her then because Sad is so much easier to deal with than Angry.”

      So it doesn’t really seem to me that you always felt bad/sad or whatever, but that a lot of the time you rather just thought she was unstable/irrational and it wasn’t your fault at all/there wasn’t any reason for you to feel bad about it? Like with the dishes and when she wanted you to stay in the hospital with her after the c section? (not to go deeply into that again :p)

      Do you have any further thoughts about when (in a general sense of what kinds of conflicts) and roughly what percentage of the time you did eventually feel bad and when you only felt that she was unstable/irrational?

      I’m just asking because I’m curious and desire clarity in my head. 🙂

      1. Well, maybe don’t try to marry these two posts and thoughts too much.

        With that first part in this post, I was trusting people to have experienced being angry with people they love, OR at minimum, seeing it on TV, where there’s a fight, and something awful happens, and then the person who hurt their loved one insta-melts into Love and Regret and Get-Help Mode.

        I assume people would just get it.

        RE: The “My wife is irrational” post, I was making a couple of points:

        1. I FOUGHT with my angry wife. Fighting with an angry person can be a button-pressing, conflict-elevating thing. I never “fought” with a sad person before (exhibiting signs of sadness, like crying). This might be a personality flaw of mine, but I have a very cavalier “Go F yourself” attitude during venomous conflict. My inclination is NOT to comfort my opponent and try to make them feel better. My inclination is to not have the fight at all. Once it’s impossible to not have the fight because they other person won’t let you, and they start leaving wounds (metaphorically), then you fight back. Maybe really good people don’t do that. But I do.

        When she was crying, I didn’t fight. I didn’t attack. When she was crying, I wanted to help. Comfort. Connect. Remind her that everything’s going to be okay, and that she’s loved.

        Pathetically (and infinitely less often), that’s what conflict with my young son looks like today. If he’s being a little shit-ass, we can have words. When he cries? Goodness. All I want to do is help him feel better. Comfort. Connect. Remind him that everything’s going to be okay, and that he’s loved.

        Scares me, Donkey. Because it’s an identical dynamic (during super-infrequent, and lessening all the time as he matures, conflict). I find the Father-Son relationship to be much more easily managed on the emotional side than the Husband-Wife one was.

        Anyway, SAD = time to come together and connect, ANGER = defend and/or counter-attack.

        One (for me) pushed me away, while the other drew me in.

        Remember that you’re talking to me today, and I sort of see the bird’s-eye view of relationship conflict and how it happens, but that was something I was totally blind to when I was IN the relationship. So it’s all a little bit hard to weed through.

        We were fighting in large part because I was causing oblivious harm and not owning it. So every time she was upset, I never said “I understand why you’re upset, and I’m sorry. I’ll do better.”

        It was more like: “I NEVER treat you like this, or talk to you the way you’re talking to me right now. I don’t understand why you want to fight with me. And I don’t understand where you’re so upset about this.”

        And that was honest.

        It’s because, in my relationship, she and I spoke very different languages and were never actually talking about, or fighting about the same thing.

        Today, I understand she wasn’t being “heard.” She was NEVER having her very real hurt feelings validated. Over and over again. That makes a person very angry.

        It would be awesome to be able to replay some of those moments with a legitimate understanding of the mental and emotional dynamics at work. I’d like to think things would go more smoothly.

        2. About the whole irrational/unstable thing.

        I’m a pretty peaceful guy and not so hard to get along with. I really, truly thought she was out of line much of the time. That she was being exceedingly unfair and unkind with her responses. That wasn’t me trying to be a dick. That was me genuinely being like: “WTF is going on inside her? That’s crazy.”

        And I still think that’s true. I don’t think she always said or did appropriate things when she was angry.

        But NOW, the difference is, I don’t think she was “irrational” or “unstable” or “crazy.”

        Now, I KNOW why and how husbands and wives talk to each other, but don’t always hear or see what the other person intended to convey. I understand it in a way I didn’t back then, and that I perceive most couples to be unaware of today.

        Husband talks and acts, and it means something. But his wife hears, sees and feels it much differently.

        Wife talks and acts in response, and it means something. He interprets it differently.

        What I think happens is that when we see or hear someone do something, we apply whatever meaning it would have if we said or did that same thing.

        And when two people start applying incorrect meaning to one another’s words and actions, it’s the same result as two people speaking two different languages, and having their translators give them the wrong messages.

        The conclusion is that the other person is irrational, crazy, unstable, overly emotional (or emotionally detached), when maybe none of those are true.

        We just have shitty translators.

        Anyway. That’s what happened. I think that’s pretty much the story of every broken relationship in human history.

        Funny then, that so many people don’t realize it’s happening.

      2. Thank you Matt! 🙂

        I think we can all relate (I certainly can) to it being easier wanting to protect and comfort someone who’s sad rather than angry.

        When not in the conflict though, it can help to remember that most of the time, at least a lot of the time, the anger the person is showing is really about trying to protect that vulnerable part of them, the anger is really just a layer/a couple of layers above the sadness. We often get angry when we feel dishonoured/not considered/disrespected/frustrated because we feel like our needs and wishes and preferences don’t matter to/aren’t being considered by the other, or that we’re somehow accused of being a bad person, no? All of this hurts.

        I’m not saying that people are never out of line, and often they’re (we’re) taking out their frustrations on someone who doesn’t deserve it at all, and sometimes we just have to learn to suffer through some of the frustrations that come with life. Like having to go inside to the potty maybe. :p As always, appropriate boundaries are in order.

        Gottmanfan and I discussed this a bit, and while I don’t have kids I do think it’s true: I think part of the reason that it can be easier on an emotional level with kids is because most parents get that it’s *their* job to try to understand, to figure out what the true need is, what the true feeling is behind whatever annoying behaviour kiddo is displaying. or crazy tantrum they’re throwing. And they get that it’s the parents job to be the bigger person, so it doesn’t hurt/make us bat shit crazy angry to be the one initiating a reconnection after a fight, to always be the one who apologizes first (or at all), accomodates, to be the one who tries to understand and who tries to be reasonable and generous and forgiving.

        1. Donkey,
          I think a lot of the reason we can be more tender with kids vs spouses is #1- yeah, you’re an adult! But also #2 because they are somehow disappointing our expectations. So, I think there may be some entitlement that goes into getting really angry and acting that out between spouses.

      3. ..and yes I do recognize being angry with someone, and then something happens (not always a big thing either) and I see the sadness and feel really bad and want to make it better somehow.

      4. Sorry, I’m in a weird mood so I’m rambling a bit, though I guess many people would agee. I’m of the opinion that all feelings have their uses, so I don’t want to villify anger. Sometimes it just lets us know that we need to set a boundary, take better care of ourselves, do some healing if it’s really about old stuff that’s bothering us. That’s a good use of anger, it would hardly be a great choice a lot of the time to yell at our kids and spouses. 8)

        But unleashed anger can have it’s use to. Like in self defense.

    2. Donkey,
      I’m a little foggy headed so I probably shouldn’t be making too many attempts at discussing something with clarity- but, I do unreasonable, shadowy things, so I am going to write anyway …:)
      I don’t know why we have a need to appear like we have it all together, or that we have all the answers, or know “The Truth”, other than we are scared to death of the frailty of life and the consequences of uncertainty.
      It seems like in masking ourselves and elevating ourselves we may be seen as less vulnerable, and with the stone throwing- we are protecting ourselves from the threat of fragility and uncertainty, but we are only making the threat more real and present when we buy into that.
      Its blame- we are so afraid, anxious, (And we know that anger is partially rooted in fear, right?) about something bad happening, we point the finger at someone else that will absorb the blame. It’s their fault- and if they are different from us, then it is easier to have less empathy and compassion.
      …They did studies about play and empathy.
      I don’t remember all the details, but there is some scenario where 2 strangers are put into a room and what is being tested is if one stranger will help the other (the motivation being empathy and compassion). A large proportion of people did NOT help the other person out, even though it would have not taken much or cost them anything.
      HOWEVER, if the 2 participants played 10 minutes of guitar hero together (this still being the first meeting ever..) they always helped the other person out.
      Just 2 people meeting without guitar hero- that is kind of “neutral”, so our neutral stance towards other people is disconnection.
      How sucky is that??
      I don’t know if that is a phenomenon of our current culture, or if its been around for a while. Part of me thinks it is our current culture, because how in the heck could our species survive if we were always such assholes to each other??
      Anyway, …thoughts….

      1. Linbo, I’m running low on words (that happens sometimes), so I won’t be able to address all of your good points, I’m sorry.

        I think I read a study once though, about how people in larger cities are less likely to help strangers than people living in less populated areas. Maybe this played a factor with the guitar hero thing, maybe it was done in a big city? Could be that when we were living in smaller groups we were more likely to help eachother out? Though I can hardly believe we were all angels back in the days. 🙂

        “I think a lot of the reason we can be more tender with kids vs spouses is #1- yeah, you’re an adult! But also #2 because they are somehow disappointing our expectations. So, I think there may be some entitlement that goes into getting really angry and acting that out between spouses.”

        Yes, I agree. And sometimes people are right to be disappointed too, though acting out isn’t a well differentiated response. 8). And sometimes it’s just different preferences, but again, both people should then get equal influence in my opinion.

        But I would argue that kids often disappoint their parents too, but many parents are still able to be the grown up, kind of. And they maybe disappoint parents less because, well, they’re kids, it’s harder for spouses to accept what they consider (rightly or wrongly) to be disappointing/selfish/cruel/unfair etc behaviour from an adult.

  1. GenePavlovsky

    Really enjoyed this article, Matt. Thanks. Let’s all try to be little less asshole-ish.

  2. This is what I like to read, not making it about yourself, making it about fixing the system and yourself!

    1. I kind of have the same attitude about marriage counseling. I think couples counseling (unless it’s done as non-angry relationship maintenance, like health eating and exercise throughout the relationship) is bad.

      Most people don’t go to couple’s counseling until they’re already halfway in the grave.

      I think couples should go to INDIVIDUAL counseling, and make the entire process about how they can improve themselves as a partner. Discover ways to live and love more effectively.

      I think two people focused on improving as a spouse, and NOT focusing on the ways the other person makes their life shittier, will transform and heal marriage and relationships.

      Anyway, thanks for reading, Emilia.

      1. Very very true Matt – I think of it like those airline instructions to put your own oxygen mask on first. You can;t help anyone or anything if you pass out from lack of air.

        I am busy unpacking my own bags at the moment. I hope my future ex will work on his. Unfortunately the relationship may be past saving by the point I’m down to just a carry on. But working on me is all I can do.

  3. Lovely Matt, very sweet sentiments. There’s a piece missing however and I think it’s hidden in this, “There are exceptions, but we by and large grow up following in the footsteps of our parents and the people who surround us growing up.” Not so much. We all make choices. completely unrelated to our circumstances. It is a choice, a series of choices. We are not simply products of our environment.

    We tend to see the world through our own eyes, too. I’m a jerk, you’re a jerk, we know it, we embrace it, and we try not to let it take over. Many people are not like that however, not at all. They don’t feel regret, grief, they aren’t interested in not being a jerk. This is something battered women often have to learn, he’s not sorry, not really, and he’s not going to change. Some people are jerks because they like it and they know they can get away with it. That simple. We all want to find the good in people, we all want to try to empathize. Sometimes you can’t, sometimes you shouldn’t, sometimes you just have to say no, this is wrong.

    Women can get themselves killed when they can’t accept that truth. The same is true of what is a happening within our society. We’re rationalizing, spinning excuses, believing we can fix it, and refusing to confront reality, sometimes people are evil because they have chosen to be evil. And that is the end of the story. You just can’t fix evil ,but you sure can make it a whole lot worse by refusing to name it for what it is.

    1. Fair enough. My broad-based view is that we need to concentrate on improving ourselves before we start pointing fingers elsewhere. Meaning, untl we are NEVER causing problems, maybe we should stop bitching about people who cause problems.

      Per the people in the world who seem to cause much human suffering, I only know how to tackle that on a case-by-case basis.

      Two people may end up dealing drugs and murdering people, but their paths their could be very different.

      Two people may end up blowing themselves up in a public place and killing several innocent people, but the roads that led them to that point were very different.

      Sure, we can’t fix evil. Agreed.

      But I don’t think I’m qualified to point to everyone and say: “You’re evil, you’re evil, you’re just kind-of bad, you’re a little misguided but will be okay someday, but not YOU–you’re evil, and so are you, and so is that person over there.”

      There are some very scary people who do very scary things. I think I’d agree with you that there are no kind and peaceful ways to deal with some of them.

      But that’s a conversation to be had about very specific individuals in very specific circumstances.

      Big-picture, I think there’s a strong argument for trying to reduce the global Asshole Quotient. The magic of the internet has only magnified it.

      1. “reducing the Global Asshole Quotient” – I think this may be my new life goal. Focusing of course on my own inner (and sometimes not so inner) asshole.

  4. YES YES YES this.

    We all need to explore our inner asshole so we can shut it up. I’ve been working really hard at this over the last year…one of the things that resonated with me was something I learned at a safety conference, of all places.

    We were discussing why people sometimes don’t follow the rules at work. And instead of storming around demanding that they FOLLOW the rules, we were told to ask ourselves this:

    “I wonder why it makes sense.”

    Because most adults don’t break rules just to be assholes. They do it because it’s more convenient, or because the “rule” way is stupid, or because they don’t understand why it matters…etc. There’s a reason, and that reason should be explored.

    Now, at work, I’m the mean HR person, so I don’t get all warm and fuzzy about people not doing what they’re supposed to. Follow directions or go work elsewhere. 🙂

    But I found that this question worked REALLY well when faced with opposing opinions. Here we have two basically sensible, intelligent adults who, when receiving the same information, reached two different conclusions.

    Why? How?

    I wonder why it makes sense.

    Now, I will admit that the hubs and I disagree on a lot of things…and this new approach of mine basically means I will argue almost ANYTHING, because I can now see how the opposing view makes sense, even when I don’t agree with it.

    But with understanding comes peace. And trying to understand brings learning.

    And, of course…hate begets hate. Fear begets anger. Love? No guarantees, but it is almost certain to bring less hate and anger than hate and fear.

    1. P.S. My son had had two broken bones before he was 3. I was sure CPS was going to raid my house! But no…the diagnosis was “he’s a boy.” 🙂

    2. Two people with this attitude would experience VERY little conflict their entire lives and/or relationship.

      That would seem to me, a good thing.

      Assuming the person you disagree with is Wrong and/or Stupid is a horrible life strategy, and it’s really hard for people to ever get to a place in life where they understand that.

      Because sometimes we’re “wrong” and/or “stupid,” and other times, there is no objective right or wrong.

      Super-hard to step outside of our heads and explore things from other perspectives. I still jump to conclusions sometimes, and feel stupid when I realize I missed another opportunity to slow down and explore what was really happening. But it happens less and less with age.

      I’m pretty happy about that.

      Thank you for sharing this work story. Super-relevant.

      1. Sometimes I think it’s less about the other person being wrong and more about our need to be RIGHT. To win and not lose.

        With understanding it’s not black and white like that. Ya know? But you have to let go of needing to win.

        (To clarify, that’s a collective “you”, not you personally.) 🙂

        1. Katie,
          I think the need to be right and win is it exactly!
          And when Matt talks about responding to anger- with defensiveness and anger I feel like at that point there isn’t relationship. It’s only me against them.
          It’s like at that moment the relationship and connection is severed.
          That’s not to say you can get angry with someone, but when your responding and communicating out that anger (to win)- your cutting off the relationship. Better to get a handle on what is making you angry and how it can be addressed that doesn’t attack.
          In a perfect world…:)

  5. Very beautifully said. I have shared this, and it was well-received and re-shared. Maybe there is hope for the human race after all.

    1. There’s hope, Karen.

      If we ever get to the place where the good stuff is amplified louder and brighter and grabs more attention than the bad stuff, we’ll really be onto something.

      Thank you very much for sharing.

    1. Gracias. Things feel clunky when I venture outside of marriage/divorce or first-person stories.

      I’m glad not everyone hated it.

      Thanks for the note.

  6. Matt, I’m in Australia, you know (or maybe you don’t) the place where 30 years ago one deranged asshole kitted himself up with automatic assault rifles which he owned legally and killed 35 and wounded 25 men, women and children.
    The newly elected Conservative Prime Minister bit the bullet (pun intended) and banned all automatic firearms.
    Australia hasn’t had a mass shooting since. (we still have thieves robbing people with knives and axes but no one gets killed, we don’t have kids accidently shooting their parents or road rage gun fight)

    From what I see on the news (over and over) is that there is a sizeable majority of US citizens who want sane gun control instead of allowing America to become a 21st-century version of the Wild West. (you have states where you people ‘open-carry! – do they walk around with gun holsters strapped to their legs? really? that question is like us being asked if kangaroos hop down our streets)

    I also understand that the President doesn’t make laws, Congress does and given that your congressman is YOUR LOCAL elected representative my question is…


    He/she is the one person who you have control over. Why aren’t you (those against unfettered gun ownership collectively) demanding to know the stance on gun control of each candidate running for congress?

    If you belong to either major party why aren’t you demanding that they take a gun control stance? Why aren’t all you people who understand that as a society you can’t allow EVERYONE to have access to weapons and that access to them MUST be difficult (not impossible) to get? Why aren’t you forming your own party or lobby group? Instead of just moaning and bitching about how terrible it is that nut jobs have infiltrated the NRA to control congress. Why are you all hiding behind the 2nd amendment? It wasn’t part of the original constitution. It was an amendment, an after-thought. You’ve had an upteenth number of amendments to it. They are not fallible. Don’t get rid of it. It is valid. So, why are you allowing it to be hi-jacked but nut-jobs?

    DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT for crying out loud. We’re sick (literally) of hearing about it and wondering how did America get so ———– up! – I’m angry now so I’ll stop.

    1. Hi jcirak,
      I really appreciate your passion,and truth be told: passion is usually always needed to cause change.
      The issue in America isn’t that our reps aren’t listening to us, they are. There is a huge number of people who do not want laws restricting fire arms.
      What happens (and I do believe the NRA has a lot of power and influence not only in congress, but with the American population) is the people believe that the government wants to take thier firearms away, so that the government can take control of us.This causes a huge emotional response ,because they are being told all or nothing scenerios, or half truths that play on their fears. When you have that emotional response there is little room for dialog. There is no trust that “the other side” has everyones best interest at heart. So the issue becomes more polarized. I am including a clip of a recent Q&A session with Obama. The man asks a question he believes is true, and Obama gives an excellent answer. The problem lies in the fact that most people don’t ask sincere questions, or they ask the question to the sources that are already biased to thier own belief and fears.
      We have to be legitimately curious as to how “the other side” views it, and what solutions there are. We have to legitimately be interested in how these things effect other people, instead of just our own interests.
      I know, America has issues- costs of s free society? All we can do is be living examples and hopefully more people will see the benefit of listening over talking, of understanding over being understood…(I only get this right a small % of the time, but I try…)

      1. Full disclosure: I disagree with the president on more things than I agree with him.

        But I find much of the anti-Obama noise (and it’s EXACTLY like the anti-Bush noise in a reversal-sort-of-way) to be totally unfair and hypocritical.

        And as I said in this post, nothing upsets me more than unfairness. But in politics, there are so few sane people respecting all viewpoints, that I rarely find anyone I want to talk to.

        When the assumption is The Other Side is stupid/wrong/evil/hates America etc., then you just have no chance of ever accomplishing anything through the vehicle of political public discourse.

        Thus, I tune most of it out.

        This video clip you shared was making the Facebook rounds, and it’s noteworthy that it was filmed a week prior to the Orlando shooting.

        I have such a hard time understanding the argument against what the president said there.

        Just because I don’t like Obama’s healthcare and economic policies DOES NOT mean he’s incorrect on gun laws. (Doesn’t mean he’s correct, either!)

        Assuming the president is being honest here about his intentions (and I think most people who don’t like him will tell you he lies 100% of the time; which was also said about President Bush, and probably every president prior), I’d love to hear someone point out whatever it is about this video clip answer they think is bullshit, and why.

        Anyway, thanks for sharing this, Lindsey. I thought it was a pretty powerful clip.

        1. Matt,
          You said “When the assumption is The Other Side is stupid/wrong/evil/hates America etc., then you just have no chance of ever accomplishing anything through the vehicle of political public discourse.”
          Yep. Politics are a mess. I don’t agree 100% with any one political candidate, and I would be hard pressed to find 2 people in any arena that agreed 100% on everything.
          What I do like about Obama is his original platform where he talked about reducing bipartisanship. The truth of the matter is a lot of these arguments become so amplified (there is a debate strategy where you take an argument to the extreme and make it ridiculous) and stark that people aren’t really discussing the real issue at hand. The debate becomes about “wrong or right”- when a lot of times there’s no such thing. Emotions are elevated and a cause is born.. Sometimes that is appropriate. A lot of times, in the case of our current political climate, having such a highly emotional response is exactly what politicians need to manipulate people into voting for them.
          We as a society need to look beyond our own beliefs. It’s good if you know those, and you don’t have to give them up- but asking about other people’s beliefs, why they see things the way they do, understanding how whatever policy will effect them- maybe that will help us to find better solutions. Someone really smart has said it before- I’m not sure who..,but “there is no ‘us’ and ‘them’-there is only ‘us.’ ”
          (And yes, I am guilty of getting a lot of my news from Facebook :/!! – thank goodness I have smart and thoughtful friends!)

        2. PS- I realize my wordng from the original post could sound like I beleive that the government is this big benevolent force that has all our best interests at heart. That isn’t exactly what I was thinking. I was thinking more of the populace at large being the force that wants the best. I think the trouble comes when we believe so firmly that we know what’s best and don’t listen to the other side…

      2. As a European who’s trying to understand more of the USA mindset, would you Matt, if you have the time and inclination, be willing to briefly explain what you don’t like about Obama’s healthcare policies (and obviously I know not everyone agrees about this)?

        I get that many don’t like it, and admittantly I’m not at all well informed about this, but I don’t quite understand the main reasoning? (and I’m just not inclined to listen to people who claim that he’s a communist terrorist or whatever, and I trust you to not do this, that’s why I ask you. 🙂 Or anyone else who feels up to it.)

        1. Donkey,
          Just a brief summary- Most Americans have a hard time accepting anything they deem as “Socialist.” We are a bunch of rebel rousers that take a lot of pride in our independence and ability to do for ourselves. A capitalist/consumerist society is supposed to create competition and incentive to be better – to continue to strive to be the best. It works usually.
          And, its all up to the individual to make it happen. Agreeing to anything that is controlled or funded by the government is a big “NO” in our society. And the truth is, it would lower the quality of care drastically.
          So instead of creating a socialist, government run healthcare system Obama did the next to the worst thing- He mandated that everyone had to buy insurance. Even the healthy young folks who only ever go to the hospital because they sprained a groin muscle :).
          It hasn’t worked as well as expected because now the insurance companies are the ones really reaping the rewards while small business owners have to offer employees some time of insurance, or you have to pay for a (Sometimes) subsidized insurance policy from your take home pay. Insurance is NOT cheap.
          But, honestly this is what I give him credit for…being in healthcare since 1996, I have heard about the need for reform since I was a nurses aid. Emergency rooms have to serve anyone who comes in, a lot of the treatment that goes on there never gets reimbursed. A lot of medical costs don’t get recovered across the board because someone didn’t have insurance, or the illness prevented them from going to work, and now they are 6 months behind on their mortgage and they haven’t even opened that bill from the hospital. The actual costs of healthcare is a pretty nebulous thing. The reason that is, is because no hospital or (other health care facility) actually gets paid for what they bill (And they get paid by the insurance companies/ government usually) so the facility will charge maybe up to 10-100 times more what something actually costs, just to get reimbursed a part of what the real cost is. It’s crazy,I know. I heard on some news show many, many years ago about how the numbers are essentially just “made up”- there is no rhyme or reason to them. Well, this all makes it very difficult to operate a hospital (or other facility) and everyone was saying it over and over again but nobody would push the button. Noone would swallow the pill. But, Obama did. He pushed it through- and to be honest, there has been a lot of improvement in rules and regs. and in being able to provide medical care for people who need it.
          But I don’t think it is perfect, and I don’t think it will last forever. But, it is what we have now.
          Was that as clear as mud? 🙂

        2. Donkey,

          I’ll take a quick stab at your question. Most people agree that our health care system is too expensive and inefficient. It is an accident of history that most people get thief heath coverage through their employer. Usually wth some or most of the cost paid for by the employer. Tax free. For many middle class people this works well enough. Upper income people as usual get the best so no problem there.

          What we are really talking about is lower income people not having coverage. And people being forced into bankruptcy because of high hospital bills because the system is do crazy.

          How do you solve that? Democrats and Republicans tend to have different answers. Democrats prefer federal government action, Republicans prefer more state and local authority.

          This is an old argument going back to Jefferson (who preferred local) and Hamilton (who preferred Federal).

          A lot of people don’t like Obamas plan because it relies on Federal intervention, mandating coverage through limited choices. They don’t think that is the most efficient way to solve the hideously bloated problems we have with costs and the way they are calculated.

          They also don’t like how despite Obamas promises otherwise it did cause increases in middle class health care premiums and limited plan choices.

          Some people didn’t like the way that “deals” wee made with health insurance companies to get it passed. The effect of which was to not contain costs.

          The bottom line of Obamacare has been to have more people covered (good) but to not contain costs which was a main theoretical goal (bad) and to cause middle class people to have to pay more for less coverage in some cases (bad).

          Despite all the polices posterity on both sides, most Americans want affordable health care coverage for people they just disagree on the best way to do it considering the bloated mess we are trying to reform and the political lobbying money on both sides like pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies.

      3. Fromscratchmom

        Political discussion is more often than not very much like an extreme example of dysfunctional marriage. There are assumptions and hurts and unmet needs galore and unfortunately even in the midst of someone making a tremendous effort to communicate well it can be insanely difficult to get down beneath the surface problems to a place of productive communication. Gun control vs the right to bear arms is an awesome example of one issue that generally happens in a way that I’d describe as starting on top of a mountain digging with a spoon trying to get below sea level while utterly convinced that you are started at an ocean beach site with the best new hydraulic excavator ever produced.

        Why can’t we all just assume the best about an entire religion that seems alien to us? Or why can’t we all believe the worst of them? We absolutely cannot, because the vast majority of us have done precious little to learn and understand that religion and we are all asking everyone else to have all the same impressions we have for all the same reasons. And many of our impressions on either side are woefully uninformed and unenlightened.

        Why can’t we all just agree with the sane and impassioned guy from Australia or some other place that’s so often inserted into American political discussion when he asserts that it’s as clear as a perfect blue sky that guns have to be controlled the way his country is doing so perfectly and implies we’re all crazed and impossible to understand here in Wonderland if we have open carry firearms and are comfortable with that? Because we have a different background from him as well as from whichever internet discussers who agree with him. Just as he had info we might have been missing that he attempted to impart, we have different information that he is missing. We have different underlying philosophies. We think we’re all speaking English. We might as well be standing by the elevator on the 18th floor of the Tower of Babel asking someone to do us the very simple favor of pushing the down button.

        Maybe we could take a lesson from a country that rarely seems to insert itself in that role, Switzerland. They’ve long since been practicing owning their own stuff and keeping out of what other countries must learn to own for themselves. I don’t have to convince Mr Australia that he’s wrong. He doesn’t have to ask me to make him understand the eighty-two thousand underlying points of difference that separate he and I in our attempts at discussion.

        And why wouldn’t Obama detractors easily listen to him sounding reasonable in the clip? Because we can’t avoid hearing the underlying assumptions he is working from, and the fallacies alluded to. But more than that (and more important than that), we can’t take him seriously on the back of his two terms of travesty, on the back of our history with him. He’s the shitty husband who has never admitted his own nature and his own mistakes to himself in any real way. No, actually he’s much worse than that. And I don’t say it for the purpose of being inflammatory. If I could get the point across in some perfect way that was guaranteed to avoid turning anyone off from listening I’d certainly do that. But nevertheless it needs to be said that he is the out and out abusive husband who no one would ask a battered woman to give the benefit of the doubt to for the sake of being the better person and giving the marriage a chance. And yet somehow after the surreal experience of electing and re-electing him we’ve become even so much more fragmented and disconnected in our culture and our public discourse that we now face out of our broken two party system, two candidates who are both clearly and openly at least as bad as (and perhaps a whole lot worse than) Obama in terms of fragmenting us further and dragging us down rather than leading us in a more productive and healthy direction. In a form of government that is based on citizen participation a leader MUST own his own stuff and earn the respect and cooperation of those he aims to lead. No matter how much responsibility we take on as citizens we MUST NOT take on the responsibility of excusing and ignoring abuses of power like have been seen at both of the conventions of both of the two major parties just one election cycle ago. Sadly most of the voting public is stuck as much as any unhappy and unhealthy spouse on needing-to-win because none of them can figure out where the divorce court is that will help them escape the culture and the cultural divide that they hate and are sick of dealing with.

        It may sound like a lone voice in the wilderness but I’m going to hold out hope that we don’t really have to crash and burn like leaders like Obama, Clinton-two and Trump would seem to guarantee we will soon do. I totally understand when people have a hard time taking it seriously. But I’m praying and planning and voting for the swift destruction of the two-party catastrophe we’ve been stuck under and running alongside of toward our destruction.

        1. Fromscratchmom,
          I love how you articulate so well. I forgot that you like to go shooting at the shooting range (just one more element of your badassery!) I do have a question/some thoughts about one of the things you mentioned in your post. And I just want to say in advance that while I probably do see things a little differently, my point is not to argue which one of us is right or wrong.
          You said “And why wouldn’t Obama detractors easily listen to him sounding reasonable in the clip? Because we cant avoid hearing the underlying assumptions he is working from, and the fallacies alluded to.”
          I think that is an incredibly true statement. In marriage, or any close relationship, it seems like we cant hear the other person because we already believe we know what they “really mean”. You say you cant help hearing the underlying assumptions he is working from.
          So, if we were really going to talk and communicate honestly and clearly we would have to specify those assumptions, and ask why we disagree with those, and maybe allow room to understand why someone would have those beliefs.
          Alot of times, if we really dove into where we believe the other is operating from we would get really upset, even more convinced that our perspective is right and theirs is wrong. So we wont do that (because he will be leaving office in about 6 months and it will have little benefit on mood or well being for us in the present… 🙂
          My point is that we walk around #1) assuming what the other person is thinking, and #2) assuming the other persons intentions. When we do that it doesn’t matter what the person is actually trying to accomplish or communicate because we will read it the way we interpret it.
          Honestly, I didn’t vote for Obama, so I am not sitting here trying to convince anyone of his “rightness”, what I am trying to do is ask how can we better communicate and increase understanding. We don’t have to agree, it would be incredible just to understand.

          Anyway- I hope I didn’t tick you off, but can you see what I am saying?

          Maybe we all just need to get together and play guitar hero.

      4. Linbo, Fromscratchmom, Gottmanfan, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts! 🙂

      5. Fromscratchmom

        Linbo, I love your questions. Despite that I do have a particular difficulty in answering. I’m not sure if your are asking in the general sense or more in the specific like what could Obama do differently. I’ll start with the former as I thought that was more likely where you were leaning.

        In the general sense I think America is at divorce level and beyond with certain cultural divides. We’ve been fighting unproductively for so long and especially in the last twenty years amping up unproductive and “abusive” marriage rhetoric and behavior in our politics but with no real way out and no real commitment to change that it is difficult to see where to dig in and begin to tackle problems…or which marriage counselor to trust. I trust Matt in the sense that you can choose this site for far far better discussion than most sites will ever have. I think he’s making a mistake to pick at the thread of gun control in the specific way of asking people to consider more gun regulation as a simple to agree to way to be more reasonable. Luckily he’s still a trustworthy and intelligent guy and that’s a good part of what you need in order to have good faith discussion where people can disagree and not just fall apart over it.

        For me, not voting, is never an option; write-in votes are never an option. So the biggest political issue I face is seeking and advocating for radical change to our two-party system. Breakaway and outsider candidates as well as third party candidates had to be followed throughout the primary process. I know I’m not alone in this, far from it. Looking to an outsider is one of the powerful motivators that stuck us with Obama and is most likely about to stick us with Trump. In fact it was part of the mistake of electing Clinton-one. So looking for big change has to be moderated by wisdom and well-trained judgement, which no one can achieve without also being highly motivated and actively becoming educated about all of the facts and intricacies of the “system”.

        Just as marrying someone who you share a similar background with (or who you have similar love languages to) may well help present fewer challenges in the marriage, political discussion is often far more productive with people with whom you already have a foundation of agreement in several areas. So how do we begin to be able to improve discussion with everyone else? Once people begin to breakaway from party allegiance and the extremism of denying that the two-party system needs to be and can be confronted they often are able to use that huge step (breaking through strong barriers with it) to begin to have more productive discussions. I’ve seen it happen many many times in recent years.

        I, for religious reasons, see harm to society through normalizing and legally supporting gay marriage. However I don’t hold onto that like a dog with a bone, partly because I have to participate in voting in a society that has already widely let go of caring about several foundational parts of how I arrived at that position and partly because I already foundationally disagree with the entire concept of using the force of government for the purpose of social engineering at the same time that I already live with constant government sponsored social engineering. So it is easy for me to let go of that issue and never display a “need to win”.

        Once you’re not trying to win anything you allow a lot of people to let their defenses down and have a healthier discussion. Because I don’t have a political dog in the gay marriage fight at its most basic level, I’ve been able to have some pretty fabulous discussions with lawyers and with gay friends about the many manifestations of social engineering tried on both sides of that issue as well as about social engineering in other areas like trying to make society quit smoking. I still prefer to let others kill themselves slowly whenever and wherever possible over punishing them with outrageous tax levels and lawsuits. But I also sincerely appreciate some (not all, but some) of the changes that have protected my body and especially my children from secondhand smoke.

        I hope in future with having gained many more perspectives I can consult with that I’ll be able to come up with some valuable ideas to reinstate real marriage into our society where our laws and courts have destroyed the concept of a legally binding “till death” commitment. Those few who want it, should be allowed to create a real and stable family life not denigrated and destroyed by the go-forth-and-make-thyself-happy-philosophy that currently rules our divorce culture and prevents reasonable and valid liability being assigned to those who commit (or pretend to commit) and then destroy that commitment.

        The people who still want to have the thing they’ve created that they call marriage that is actually more of a temporary contractual partnership and that the courts will let them out of for any reason or for no reason and that they can get their social engineering tax breaks for can still have that. There’s no point in me trying to deny them their “need to win” the right to seek their bliss. And I don’t need tax breaks and other publicly funded prizes to want to have a real and permanent family. There could be some form of more binding contracts for those who see that modern “marriage” concept of a non-binding marriage as a detriment to individuals, to children, and to society.

        In the specific arena of what Obama could do differently at this point, there really is nothing honorable or trustworthy he could do accept to step down. He’s betrayed the public trust with his abuses of power too severely and in too many different ways to ever be trusted in any public office or in any leadership role among humans. I pray the terrible, criminal, unconstitutional trend of the executive orders crafted well outside of the very limited provisions the constitution outlines for such can be reversed someday. Its a hard thing to contemplate knowing the abuses of the constitution from the 1860s and the 1930s and 40s took decades to chip away at and were not necessarily ever fully reversed and healed. But I’ll vote my conscience which will probably be a vote for Johnson and I’ll pray fervently and without ceasing for our future.

    2. I gotta say. It’s nice to see people half a world away truly caring.

      I used to be a big gun rights advocate, myself.

      I know a ton of people with guns and have my entire life. I also know zero murderers.

      You know what else I also used to support? Public smoking. I thought it was bullshit that the government was telling people they couldn’t smoke, or businesses that they couldn’t let people smoke. But then I really started to grasp the concept of how the rights on one person can infringe up the rights of another.

      And at some point, you have to make decisions about finding a compromise. Since smoking harms people, it’s reasonable to protect the person NOT engaged in potentially harmful behavior.

      I’ve learned to apply that to gun laws.

      I am 100-percent with the pro-gun crowd on the general concept that murderers will murder, and that no amount of gun laws will change that. And that people willing to murder are not likely to obey gun laws.

      HOWEVER, is it really unreasonable to register weapons and earn licenses to own guns as we do with motor vehicles? Are the public safety reasons for doing so identical? Of course they are.

      What does a law-abiding citizen have to fear from thorough background checks?

      I don’t break many laws. Thus, I’ve never been particularly afraid these things.

      1. Fromscratchmom

        I love what you said here, Matt. I’d respectfully suggest that the rights of another being infringed concept should be inherently and inextricably linked to the concept of the safety of all of us. And that is a coin with two sides. Just as I’d like to be protected from crazed gun owners who become mass-shooters, I’d like to *really* be protected. And among the 82,000 points I generally would rather not discuss on the Internet there’s the incredible number of shootings that have been stopped early on (prevented from getting to numbers that warrant the word ‘mass’ from the media) by lawful gun owners with the sheepdog mindset/personality, which leads back in a loop to how much gun regulation can be allowed before it’s too much of a deterrent to responsible gun ownership. It has become a problem in our society that our “gun-free zones” are not safe. They are the most unsafe places in the country.

    3. Autumn Grayson

      Please keep in mind that just because something works in one country doesn’t mean it will work in another. With the lack of border control many more liberal people insist on it would be hard to even keep guns out of America. And there’s a lot of gangsters, etc that would probably laugh and keep using their guns to commit crimes rather than turn them in.

      Open and concealed carry is legal in many areas of America, but it is hardly the wild west. Even if it’s legal, hardly anyone carries guns in public. Most people leave their guns at home, only to be used for hunting or for self defense just in case someone tries to rob the house in the middle of the night. And all the cries for gun control make many people more likely to cling to their guns and get ‘crazy’ in their pro gun rhetoric.

      For a little perspective, think about large kitchen knives. Those would be very dangerous, and I’m sure a decent amount of crimes happen with knives in general. So let’s say there’s a trend for people to stab others with large kitchen knives, especially in one particular country. After a bunch of grisly knife deaths(which are partially spotlighted by the media and therefore people start getting very emotional about the whole issue). People start calling for a ban on such knives. If you were going to have to give up most of your kitchen knives and perhaps your other knives because a few psychos in your country were knifing people to death, wouldn’t you be a little annoyed? You kinda need knives to cut your food, and you know you aren’t going to kill people with the knives and the presence of a knife in your house doesn’t directly endanger anyone.

      What if, to top it off, you had people come to your house that you cared about, and they wanted knives to be banned. They see you have a set of kitchen knives and get really upset. They say you are horrible for having murder weapons in your house. They think you are selfish and irresponsible, they see you as the very thing that’s wrong with the world simply because you have a knife to chop your vegetables. What if they thought you were almost as bad as a murderer simply because they saw an item in your house that they were sensitive about?

      If that situation existed for you, especially if someone you cared about was treating you like a horrible person when you are not one, wouldn’t you be a little sad or angry or annoyed or maybe feel like rolling your eyes at how freaky people were getting over your vegetable chopping knives?

  7. Whether you knew it or not, Matt, your analogy regarding smoking and guns hurting other people is a perfect relationship analogy. If your partner tells you this fill-in-the-blank hurts them, the best response in order to have a good relationship is to take it a face value and believe it. Which I have found has been a huge problem and you write about it being so as well.

    I have just finished the first intense five events of the season. The event business is mine, with my husband in a support role. Running events is a fast paced situation. You have 4 or 5 hours to get it right or screw it up. Along the way, other vendors and other situations crop up, so an event planner has to move fast, think fast, and make decisions that take in the past planning, the present situation, and the future circumstances, FAST. We are oil and water when it comes to that and have had some spectacular fights around it. The problem is the same one that has always been a problem, but intensified and unavoidable during an event. I cannot back off my job to spare his feelings or our relationship, so the gloves come off.

    However, just 6 or 7 weeks ago, husband finally grasped what you have been talking about. The 5 events became the acid test. Instead of fighting, we talked. When he knee jerked into his usual reactions, I called him on it, but directly, not angrily, because I am no longer afraid to say the truth (because he would get worse, or it would hurt his feelings, etc etc etc) Not that everything is wonderful, but we are now talking about the small stuff that makes for misery, and he is actually doing the hardest thing of all – getting caught in the act and then doing the work of not doing the same old thing, even while emotions are running high. It feels like we have peeled down from the big stuff to the small stuff. It seems that once he crossed the divide of being conscious of acting like an asshole, he is much quicker to recognize it and to realize that he is violating his own standards of conduct.

    I wrote about this several weeks ago, before the event season, to which someone responded with a comment that I was basically drinking the coolaid. i don’t think so. It is very tough running events and I am a stickler for doing it right, so the pressure on him was immense because he gets no slack under these circumstances. It has brought out the worst in him in the past, and the worst in me, because I have a job that has precedence over everything else. So the experience of 5 events in a row and talking about issues and resolving them feels like major progress. Too bad one cannot learn all this before they get into a relationship.

    1. Shannon,
      That is awesome and hard work for you both!
      Wishing you strength, perserverence and joy!

  8. Ok, so this question may be a re-hashment of previous gender/ nature vs. Nurture conversations, but I’m just thinking do men and women really process the world differently? And if it is , can we expect the men in our lives to undo years of conditioning (by themselves, in a short period of time..)
    I’m just thinking about the guy who,when you ask “what are thinking” – they say “nothing” and mean it, or what are you feeling and you get the same answer- and they mean it. The absence of those two things in women are rare. We tend to be thinking about or feeling something most of the time. I think these are some of the differences that cause a breakdown in communication, and understanding. …any thoughts?

  9. Great thoughts. It reminds me of this verse if John 8:7

    But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

    1. It should!

      I always assumed the glass house-stone throwing saying came from that verse.

      In that same vein, I listened to a gospel reading from Luke Sunday at church about the woman with the alabaster jar.

      Christ’s lesson RE: debt and sin forgiveness, and how the person forgiven of much loves and appreciates it even more than the person forgiven of less.

      I see that story as essentially having the same point as the stone-throwing one.

      Humility. Honesty. Love.

      Sure, some people are wretched, and given multiple opportunities to do better, continue to wreak havoc on people’s lives. It’s sad.

      But most people? They deserve our mercy. If people can’t find it within themselves to offer it generously, then perhaps they can for simple fairness and equality reasons. Because we need it too.

      1. Matt, are you sure you don’t want to marry me? Lol 🙂 (Joking!!)
        Love these words, and thoughts.

  10. I think many of us are feeling the hate in the air right now. While it’s more obvious than it’s ever been, in politics and the news, I think we can all relate to the feeling. It has moved me so much recently that I was reminded spiritually of our choice. Our choice for temperance, compassion and love over hate and intolerance. I, also, wrote a post today. Glad to see many of us wanting to acknowledge the atmosphere rather than allow it to take over ?. Love and compassion wins. Gratitude. ?

  11. Jeff the MILF slayer

    Matt, I hate your blog. I’d heard about your vital post about the glass on the sink, and when I saw it at the bottom of another site I was on in the paid links, I clicked. Now I’ll proceed to tell you why. You won’t be able to respond, I’m not coming back, this is just for you to know.

    It seems you’ve created an entire blog around one event, your divorce. You probably wanted to blog and that frustration about your divorce seemed like something people would be interested in, but your over-simplified logic and long-winded explanations about everything (literally everything, Omar Mateen and how his shooting spree demonstrates this or that) are misleading and seem to mainly appeal to egocentric women. I think you are actually doing harm. I thought at first that maybe that you had found a way to get through to these self-reinforcing instagram queens by making yourself into the archetype regretful divorcee, but I was wrong. Upon further examination you are just a self-promoting blogger with nothing of value anywhere that I could find. Just “men like beer, and we’re idiots”, “step two: do her job for her and stuff”, “I am learned now that I am divorced.”

    Let me give you some advice. Chances are there was something going on in your marriage that you are completely unaware of. Maybe your ex wife was a 9 and you are a 5 going on 4 as you gained more and more weight, maybe your ex was competing with a girl on Facebook who teased her in high school and married the man both of them wanted and had recently passive-aggressively tweeted about how her husband does the dishes every night after she cooks. Perhaps she felt like she could do better and that she got married too young. Maybe your anger was slowly becoming worse and beginning to manifest as physical injuries to your kids and emotional scarring to your wife and she just didn’t have the heart to tell you that she thinks there might be something clinically diagnosable going on with you and she just doesn’t know what it is. Whatever the case may be, it is clear to me that you and your wife of many years had serious problems that led to a divorce and you apparently weren’t given a very good explanation by her. Maybe you actually, subconsciously wanted the divorce as well, so you let it play out as a somewhat innocent argument about dishes, and now it’s over. People get divorced for a lot of reasons but hardly any are as trivial as yours as stated.

    Instead of writing about basketball or terrorists I suggest you take a good hard look at yourself and ask what the real reason for your break-up was and write about that. What made you so unattractive to your wife? Why do some people get tired of their partner? Is it not ok to admit when two people were married too young? Are you ready to get married again, or will your next marriage suffer the same problems? Who should you be looking for? Why dwell on the past? These are the questions that inquiring minds want to know, not what you think of that shooting and what we can all learn from it. From what I can tell you have an audience with flawed internet people that you may be able to get through to. We all go through the same experience and yours is no different. Maybe retire this blog and start a new one with something better to focus on than yourself? Maybe just hand this one off to someone who you think could actually help people, pair up with a counselor, I met one toward the end of my marriage, I researched online for a specialist at the top of their game and she brought clarity to our situation and I’m sure she has a lot more to say about your situation than you do. She might want to know what you and your ex wife’s childhood were like, stuff like that. That sort of insight is valuable to people. Good luck!

  12. Pingback: Throwing Stones in Our Glass Houses - Romantic Toys

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Matt Fray

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