Friday, 18 December 2009

Does it take a lot to give words of encouragement to people you love even though you might not fully understand or accept them?

Yes, I guess it does for most people. It applies to me as well. I am definitely not at a very comfortable level of giving complements, supports and encouragements to people easily. But I really desire to be much better. I want to be able to do it so easily like I am breathing each day.

I envision one day, my children will look up to me and able to say “My mom is always there to support me even though nobody does.”

The caveat - I know I will not be able to fully understand my children. Times will change everything around us, some generation gaps will appear. I also know at many times in the future, I really think they are doing the wrong things; their actions may even conflict with my principles. I may not be able to believe in their dreams, not able to accepts their friends, partners and lifestyle.

But I want to stay true to one function (among all others) as their mother who loves them tremendously – TO ENCOURAGE and SUPPORT THEM, even when the rest of the world scorn at them, as long as they are not making the world an evil place.

I recently watched “Philadelphia”, a movie produced in 1993 and played by Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington (both actors made a lot of great movies) . Tom played a gay lawyer infected with AIDS, who was fired from his law firm due to the discrimination. So, he engaged another good lawyer (Denzel) to help him sue his previous employer and to fight for his right even though he was nearing the deathbed. It is a touching movie, one that makes you question on how different people perceive each others, perceive what is right and wrong – which there is no absolute right and wrong, except on where you stand to look at it. (In fact, a lot of touching movies do that on different levels – for e.g., another good movie is Crash (2004)).

One scene that really swarms me with emotions and wet my eyes is when Tom Hanks’s family pledge their supports to him, in a way that is so extraordinarily beautiful.

Andy (played by Tom Hanks):
There will be things said at the trial that are hard for you to hear...about me and my personal life.
And there's gonna be publicity. I want to make sure it's okay with everybody.

His brother:
I think it's great that you're asking, Andy…but this is really your call.

Andy:
All right. Thank you, brother.

His brother:
Hey, you're my kid brother.
That's all that matters.
Okay?

Sister:
To be honest, I'm worried about Mommy and Daddy.
They've been through so much already.
And it's possible there are going to be some very tough times ahead.

(Even though the sister was not pledging her support, but notice that she said "I'm worried" not, "You should worry" (sharing what she feels, rather than telling you what you should feel). And she also said "it's possible" because she has no way to know what is going to happen and it is not right for her to judge. See? Small words like these portray a lot of sensitivities.)

Daddy:
Andy, the way that you've handled this whole thing...
you and Miguel...(Miguel is Andy’s gay partner)
with so much courage...

I don't believe there's anything..
that anyone could say that would...make us feel anything but incredibly proud of you.

Mommy:
Well, I didn't raise my kids to sit in the back of the bus.
You get in there and you fight for your rights, okay?

Andy:
Gee, I love you guys.

Incredible, isn't it? Their parents were saying they are proud of their gay son, who contracted AIDS due to his choice of sexuality and probably his own carelessness; the same guy who worked so hard for his company despite his illness, putting himself in danger, only to be fired by the company and now he want to sue the company and putting his whole family in the spotlight and probably embarrassment, as well as putting more stress to himself while he is dying. This story may have been made up but it is definitely a great inspiration.

And, when it comes to inspiration on simple encouragement from the parent, I could almost recite the words from a scene in Pursuit of Happyness (2006) – an meaningful exchange between father and son

Father: Hey. Don't ever let somebody tell you... You can't do something. Not even me. All right?

Son: All right.

Father: You got a dream... You gotta protect it. People can't do something themselves, they wanna tell you you can't do it. If you want something, go get it. Period.

I do not think it takes a lot for the speakers to say those words, but the one who receive that, the very same one that may be in difficult situations or greatly discouraged – it means a WHOLE WORLD to them.

But, ask ourselves this - what we usually tend to do in those situations? The answer: We act the exact opposite. We tell our loved one off. We reject them. We shun their ideas. We label them with different names – selfish, stupid, silly, crazy, inconsiderate, etc. And most of all, we want to force our ideas and what we think into them. So that maybe, some where, sometimes in the future, when they realize their mistakes, they would recall what we have told them and we get the satisfaction out of telling them “I told you so but you did not want to follow!”

The irony is – sometimes, when we "fervently warn" the people we love of what we perceive to be mistakes, in some hidden parts in our hearts, we unconsciously wish for them making the exact mistakes that we have warned them, this so to prove ourselves right, whereas our loves for them consciously wish them to be happy and successful – both situations are contradictory like the sun and the rain.

Finally, 10 Rules to remind ourselves on how we should treat them (our loved ones):

1. Remember this - our faith and beliefs can move mountains. So believe and have faith in them because we will help them to move their mountains.

2. When we find them deciding or acting on things that are probably going to be some sort of mistakes, do NOT find 10 things out of the situation to prove we are right, find just 1 thing to prove we can be wrong and stick to that only.

3. Prepare to support and give them a shoulder to cry on when they really fail. Do not feel it is right to retract that because they have not follow our advices.

4. If we feel the urge to say something that sound like “I told you so…” – bite our tongues and just keep that to ourselves. FOREVER.

5. Don’t force our opinion and judgment on them most of the times. We have the right to say what we feel and think but those are just our feelings and opinions, NOT theirs.

6. Remember this – even though we are the more experienced, older and/or smarter people, accept that we may also be wrong sometimes. To Err Is Human.

7. Remember what Peter Drucker said “If You Keep Doing What Worked in the Past You’re Going to Fail” – so do not expect others (especially our children) to follow what we have done last times even though we have proven records of success.

8. Always stand by them, even though when they are wrong sometimes. They need us to be their loved one, NOT the judge, NOT the police officer, NOT the priest and NOT the executor. Everyone will be judged by God eventually.

9. Remember that our loved ones have their other loved ones as well – for e.g. our partner has other loved ones like parents, siblings, friends, relatives, mentors, etc; our parent has other loved ones like their parents, their other children and grand children. It is a very complex relationship. Be understanding and do not demand and measure amount of love and attention among each others and do not criticize and reject the loved ones of our loved ones (sound complex, I know).

10. Love them for who they are, not who we want them to be.

Warning: Do not overdo this, else we will be too pampering, which create another set of problems.