Thursday May 23, 2013
Let's Assert Our Individuality: Honoring Unique TraitsBarry-Lee Coyne Salem-News.com
Adversity can summon up strengths. Survival can build fortitude of the backbone.
(SALEM) - This particular article is generated by post-breakfast chitchat with my wife of 77, Carmela, still feisty and high-spirited. She grew up in The Philippines and the predominant culture was conformity-prone. Here in the US, we tend to respect diverse views and pay honor to the uniqueness of the individual.
That is not something to take automatically for granted. There's a sharp contrast to be drawn.
It is a fact, for example, that I am rather poor in math and things mechanical. Nevertheless, writing and the social sciences were strengths I developed as a youngster. My late dad liked to dominate conversations and marginalize what his kids had to say. So I turned to the tool of writing and withdrew to by bedroom in order to find relief from feeling "repressed". What you read today is the by-product of those experiences.
Carmela grew up during WWII at a time when the Japanese occupied her homeland. She witnessed bombs being dropped and experienced actual bullets flying about her head near a mango tree she still recalls many years later. She also was the fortunate escapee from two home fires, one with only the clothing she wore. Without doubt, these were real-life traumas. Those memories cannot completely disappear, and flashbacks do intervene from time to time.
Yet adversity can summon up strengths. Survival can build fortitude of the backbone.
Appreciation of each others differences is vital for a human relationship to prosper. We often get caught in the self-made trap of thinking our own attitudes are universal ones. That is pure folly. Flexibility calls on us to make allowance for individual traits and value systems. Learning this lesson even late in life in truly a blessing so that the Golden Years do not turn to rust.
Survival of the soul is just as essential as survival of the body or soma. Take this seriously while you can!
Salem-News.com Community Writer Barry Lee Coyne brings to our readers stories from his combined career of journalism and gerontology, and explains that these paths shaped his values. Lee Coyne once worked for The Civil Service Leader in NY State and covered the Legislature. He has also done features on mediation and arbitration, and believes in healthy skepticism. This writer-therapist often views the world as the masks of comedy and tragedy placed upon the scales of justice. For him, optimism inevitably wins. "Lyrical Lee" has traveled to 30 nations aboard and was once a press intern at the UN. His first published article was in The NY Daily News in '59, dealing with the need for integrity in public office.
He also launched the nation's first tele-conference on health education for shut-ins, created the Eldermentors project in VA to pair retirees with immigrant students needing role models, and was the main catalyst behind CCTV's "Public Public" panel show here in Salem. Lee received his BA in International Relations and an MSW in community organization. He currently serves as a member of Salem's Library Advisory Board. To send Lee an email, please write to this address: email@example.com
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