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Chicken Coop for the Soul

New America Media, Blog, Rene P. Ciria-Cruz Posted: Jan 03, 2010

So many things made me mismanage my anger last year. And dont even get me started on Joe Lieberman and those fat cats who tried to kill healthcare reform. But Happy New Year! Im a changed man. After watching reruns of Dr. Phil and reading sensitive self-improvement books, like Chicken Soup for the Soul, I learned that anger and cynicism are negative energies, that theres so much grace, compassion and forgiveness in this world waiting to be rediscovered by anyone whos willing to remove the blindfold of emotional habits.

Yes, its time to heal our ailing souls. We must begin an internal dialog to be able to look at human frailties more in sorrow than in anger. Someone said Shakespeare, despite writing so many tragedies, referred to love 2,259 times and hate just 183 times. What an inspiration. So, instead of dog paddling against a sea of trouble, I resolve to slurp the milk of human kindness, to be more forgiving and compassionate with misbegotten types that tend to make life miserable. And Ill accept things that I cant change.

For example, should I curse the Mayon Volcano for spewing ash and lava on thousands of people during the holidays? Reaching deep down, I realize that a volcano sometimes cant help erupting; thats its nature. Similarly, should I huff in disgust at those who spew malice, misinformation, hatred and demagoguery for a living, like Beck, Limbaugh, OReilly, Coulter and Hannity? No. Ive overcome my compassion deficit to understand that they just cant help it, like the Mayon Volcano cant help being a real ash hole.

And should we scold the gate crashing Salahis, the balloon-boy parents and the scores of reality show wannabes who willingly humiliate themselves just to be on television? Please, everyone, reach deep down and look at the larger context. Its the Internet era, and the communication revolution has given everyone an accessible weapon against the tyranny of anonymity. Tila Tequila, Jon and Kate, as well as the guy on Jerry Springer who slept with his daughter and ran away with his brother-in-laws mistress arent the social climbers of the Digital Age; theyre the true heroes of the human struggle against insignificance. And thanks to them the boob tube is now reaching its fullest potential.

How about that guy who put on a Santa suit and then robbed a bank at gunpoint in Nashville? Instead of judging him for an act that could be traumatic for little children, lets make it a teachable moment, a learning experience for kids in their tender and formative years. Yes, Virginia, Id write, Santa has to pay his elves somehow. How do you think Santa supports himself? That should teach our children the value of a living wage. Reaching deep down, I also realized that my dismay at Tiger Woods philandering came not from moral rectitude but envy. So why cast the first stone? Better to redirect negativity to self-improvement and be a better man than Tiger. So Im practicing my putt.

There are others worthy of understanding. Lame duck President Arroyo of the Philippines is still in office yet she already announced her intention to run for Congress in her home district. Most people think this is rather grasping and in poor taste. Some say she just wants congressional immunity from prosecution for the corruption she committed while president. Uh, uh, not me. Reaching deep down, I can see things from her point of view. She might, after all, be unconsciously compensating for a negative self-image as a short person by obsessing on power, like Napoleon or Hitler. Her underhanded ways could be a cry for help. So, lets rise above all the damage she has done and assure her that anyone who stood in her elevator shoes would feel her pain.

And take Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., suspected mastermind of the political mass murder of 57 people in Maguindanao, including members of a rival clan, women, reporters and innocent passersby. I wont scream Burn in the electric chair! or Rot in jail! like some of my colleagues in Philippine news media do when they see him in court. Ill stick to the principle that hes innocent until proven guilty as hell. Whats wrong with offering the man a random act of kindness? So, reaching deep down, Id smile and tell him, Mr. Mayor, those pictures of you behind bars are really flattering. That should brighten up his day.

So, pay it forward. But, you might ask, if we tried to understand wrongdoers and forgave their trespasses, wouldnt they trespass against us more? Wouldnt the world just be filled with demagogues, grafters, limelighters, thieves, adulterers, mass murderers and lowlife in general? I truly understand why youd feel anxious. But heres a reassuring piece of wisdom I found by reaching deep down: I wouldnt worry about those things anymore because the world will end in 2012.

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