Watch out world! America is making some decisions, and we’re getting them all in before the summer break. We’ve acted on voting rights, abortion, same-sex marriage, and immigration all in the same week. Couple that with Paula Deen and the Zimmerman case and I don’t know about you, but I am exhausted, exhilarated and anxious all at once!
Depending on where you stand on the issues you either progressed or regressed. No one stood still. So while some will celebrate, others will begin to reposition for round two. Because one thing is certain, in a country that often values freedom of speech over actually being heard everyone has something to say.
Which brings me to my jaw dropping moment of the week. No, it wasn’t on any of the substantive issues under debate. It was Paula Deen’s Today Show interview where she told the world “I Is What I Is”. Well, thank you Paula for confirming that what we heard is who you really are. Cause we were wondering…
I won’t even bother to debate what she actually said and if she is a racist. We all have our opinions and have opined on them at nausea. But what I’m grappling with is why in the world yet another fall from grace was handled so badly.
I mean let’s face it – we all screw up. Today we’re in the enviable position of being able to judge Paula, but that’s only because no one filed suit on us about what we said earlier this week.
We may not have used racial slurs, but at some point we were probably rude. We talked about someone else, perhaps even besmirched his or her character. We gossiped. We may have even lied. Nearly all of us have said something we’re grateful did not make the national news. Shoot, we’re just grateful the person we talked about didn’t hear it!
But here’s the thing – when we do screw up and it comes to light there’s usually a grace period before we’re branded an arrogant idiot. It’s in that short window that we have the opportunity to reconcile our relationships and salvage our reputation. In light of this week’s very public and cataclysmic slide, I thought we could all use a refresher of what to do when our mouth gets us in a mess.
- When you jack stuff up, genuinely apologize. Ideally, we’re truly sorry when we hurt other people. But if you’re not really sorry then don’t fake it. Whatever your position is own it – and take your lumps like a big girl. People spot a fraud a mile away, and will punish you cruelly for trying to manipulate us into believing you’re something you’re not.
- When you’re trying to survive, strategize. If you’re the foolish one who jacked stuff up, you’re probably not giving your own self the best advice on how to fix it. Love you enough to seek counsel – and actually listen to it.
- When you do decide to speak up, say something. Best to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and confirm it. When our mouth runs away from our brain we end up in trouble. Sometimes silence is more powerful than saying anything.
Of course our best strategy for staying out of trouble is to not get in it in the first place. A good place to start is by “tasting our words before we speak them.” Lord knows, we may have to one day eat them.
Rather than wasting any more energy in judgment or debate on Paula, I challenge us to use what happened this week as a teachable moment. As Paula said, “I Is What I Is.” My question to all of us is who are we? Do our words represent how we really feel? Are we conscious of when we offend other people, and are we genuinely sorry when we do?
What we say and do forms the basis of how people perceive us. Let’s make sure there is no question about who we are and what we stand for, no ambiguity between our words and our actions. Remember even when we mess up, how we handle it sends a message. What is it that you want your life to say about you?
Loving on Me as I Love You. ❤