Is stoicism the enemy of sensitivity? If it is, do we then have to choose sides as to how we interact with each other - less we either upset people or find ourselves patronising them? Things such as self-worth and well-being has become a very ‘Now’ subject, with the young royals and other opinion formers highlighting the fact that mental health issues is a subject that no longer should be swept under the carpet by society.
I think that most sensible people would agree with that sentiment entirely, however in saying that, many people (like me!) find the current emphasis on sharing every possible emotion with friends and strangers alike, strangely disconcerting. In just saying that, I know that some of you reading this will be up-in-arms at my insensitivity, but many others will give a nod in my direction.
Can I make this point please? Life, with all its highs and lows is never going to be easy - and some would say that some modern fears, representing the worries and concerns of so called ‘First World’ men and women; which, it has to be said, are hardly the biggest challenges in the world, given the fact that more than half the planet’s population continue to live in abject poverty. Maybe an occasional sense of perspective might be a good idea.
YOUR DAD IS NOT YOUR BEST FRIEND - GET OVER IT!
I was happily watching a lunchtime television program the other day that specialises in women telling us ‘How it is for them’ for the benefit of other women who don’t have glossy media careers and have to work in a job that they dislike.
Hey, believe it or not, this is normal - it’s called paying the mortgage! Anyway, the subject of “Do we show enough affection to our children?” came up - and they all went into touchy-feely overdrive. Two of them whined about the fact that their dad didn’t show them enough affection - although admitting that they had no doubt that he loved them.
Come on please! Most father’s of a certain generation didn’t tend to show much outward affection towards their children, it just wasn’t done. Mothers, would kiss scraped knees and cuddle an unhappy child - most fathers believed that they had more important things to do and be - i.e. he was your father and his children were his total responsibility.
Indeed, to attempt to recruit your dad as some sort of ‘best friend’ is to pathetically underestimate his role in any child’s life. I wonder if much of the mental sensitivities that seem to abound at the moment, have more than a little to do with the way we have brought up children to expect to be treated in a certain way and when that doesn’t happen - we have a crisis on our hands.
Anyone who started work on the lowest rung of any work ladder up until about 20 years ago - will tell tales of casual disrespect, micky-taking and teasing on an industrial scale and alas, sometimes worse. Now then, thank God, for the most part - sexual harassment has largely been outlawed and not before time - but, let’s not forget that a workplace is always a competitive environment and that’s a fact of life I’m afraid. Nobody can deny that some of us are more vulnerable to the pressures of modern life than others. Perhaps, that’s always been the case and with the world and technology moving so fast under so many conflicting influences, it is hardy surprising that young people feel lost and adrift in an uncertain world. But in saying this - how does this compare with - say, a World War breaking out in your teenage years?
LIFE CAN NEVER BE A PAINLESS EXPERIENCE
If you think about it, life can be joyous, complicated, and at times very difficult - it always was, it always will be. Anyone who reaches a certain age in life will have to put up with the passing of parents and other family members from a different generation and the grief that accompanies it. Some of us will have to cope with the gut wrenching deaths of those of a younger generation, our siblings, close loved ones and God forbid, a child.
Even the cats and dogs that were ‘family’ at all the stages of our lives have to eventually die and we and our children will remember them with affection and not a little love. Nobody can protect us from these inevitable consequences of life itself. A strong faith may help; but love and support from those around us will be essential in all we will face in life.
But nobody should believe that life itself should be a painless experience, it isn’t and never has been. I don’t know whether I have within me an old fashioned English reticence to talk about my private feelings - or more than likely, actually find that when others do it, I immediately wonder with a measure of guilt, why me? Maybe our royal princes are right and we all need to “Get it all out there and talk about it” - but, I have to say, I’m not so sure. In coming full circle on this subject; could it be, that the stoical - “The lest said, the soonest mended” of yesteryear, is being replaced by the exact opposite - as in, feeling it necessary to air and discuss all our innermost thoughts and feelings as in a sort of conscious, self-indulgence. Doubtless, I will get into trouble for using the words ‘self-indulgence’ in this context, but generally I find those who insist upon crossing every ’T’ and dotting every ‘I’ of their private life have a mission in mind - a mission to inform you of what you don’t want to be told, as a sort of positive proof of their own sensitivity.
Believe it or not, a quiet and discreet understanding of a persons problems and a positive mindset as to how it might be fixed - is worth hundreds of showy hugs and self congratulatory posts and emojis on social media, which in themselves mean absolutely nothing.