Saturday, June 9, 2012

Advice from the nuts

Will someone please give me a Dear, Stephanie column and a box full of letters from confused and discouraged writers? I would take that job in a heartbeat.
In fact, I might as well just start now. The letters don't have to be addressed to me. And who cares if I get a paycheck in the end (if this takes off I will eat those words, I'm sure). I just love advice columns. It is a pipe dream of mine to be a Dear Stephanie someday. What qualifies a person for such a position? People watching? I've done my fair share of that. In fact, I have twenty-two years experience. I was a people watcher fresh out of the womb. I love to observe the actions and habits of other people. Forgive me if I sound borderline creepy. Individuals are simply interesting. Each one is unique and has little quirks that no one else shares. You can learn from watching how other people interact with one another. For example, you can learn not to dominate a conversation, among many other critical life lessons. Being a people watcher is an education in and of itself.
This is why I don't have time for college. I am too busy watching people. Excuse me while I get my studying on. 
Which brings me to today's letter to Dear Annie. I have mixed feelings on Dear Annie. Often I totally disagree with her advice. In my humble opinion she misses the big picture more than she hits it. And even when she does come to a conclusion I can give an "amen" to, she uses reasoning that makes my brow get all furrowed.
Take today, for instance. The writer, known as Parent in the Northeast is a single mother who is 31, never been married and doesn't care to ever marry. The whole arrangement just doesn't appeal to her. As you can imagine, her friends don't understand this. She is constantly enduring questions such as, "Do you want to die alone?" What upbeat friends! Parent in the Northeast just wants people to know that it is okay to not marry and it is okay to not WANT to marry. She asks Annie what ever happened to "mind your own business"?
What does Annie say in response?: "Good luck with that." That gave my brow a little twitch.
Hmm... If I were Parent in the Northeast I'd be disappointed with that lame "advice." In defense of Annie, she goes on to give this parent a comeback for the next time this situation arises. Say something like, "I cannot imagine why you think this is your business." And this is where my brow furrows.
What kind of advice is that? So, people start meddling in your personal life and you give a comeback that is the equivalent of a Chihuahua snapping a child's wandering hand? Her response was juvenile. I think Parent in the Northeast would get a lot further in her reasoning to the questioners by responding with grace and maturity then resorting to sharp-tongued commentary.
It is perfectly alright to not have a burning desire for marriage. It is also to be expected that there will be opposition to this way of living. The numbers don't lie. Most people are married at some point in their life. Can we fault the married population for believing that everyone must want to be married, too? Of course not. They are in the majority, after all.
If this were Dear Stephanie I'd answer the letter much differently. My response would go a little something like this:
"Dear Northeast Parent...It is understandable that the endless barrage of questioning about your marital status will get (and obviously has) gotten old. Please try to cut your friends some slack. Although they may not always use the best wording and phrasing, I'm sure they just want you to be happy and content. Still, I agree that they should respect your feelings on marriage and your desires for the future of you and your son. I suggest responding to their questions with grace and joy. This will be the best way to convey to them that you are happy to be a single woman. Throw in a little humor, too. A light touch goes a long way. Remember - sweet will get you further than sour. Showing frustration could be misinterpreted as bitterness about your relationship status. I sense that you truly are happy being single and that marriage isn't a status you feel you need to ever obtain. Show that to those in your life by killing all the questioning with kindness. Show them how marvelous life can be as an independent, single woman!"
What do you think? Do I have a possible future as a dear so and so?
It is amazing to me the voices that are littering newspapers and TV talk shows. They are throwing around advice that doesn't seem to be in the best interest of their readers/listeners. They say the most inane comments and get paid for it to boot. What are the credentials of these people? Who taught them their logic? Shouldn't the people giving so called "advice" be trying to better the lives of those seeking answers?
Maybe the problem is that too many of these commentators on life are coming at life itself from the wrong vantage point. Instead of seeing things through a Christian, moral scope they are observing everything through a self driven lens: What is best for me? They are being led by selfish motives, not what is truly right.
This world doesn't need more advice from confused and misdirected human beings. The world of Dr. Phils and Dear Annies isn't leading us in a positive direction. Last I checked, divorce rates haven't dropped because TV has started trying to solve relationship problems while a studio audience observes this twisted form of "entertainment". We need people who are looking at life through God's view finder. We need real convictions rooted in truth, not what feels right or suits us at the moment.
I don't think the USA Today or Herald Tribune would ever have me as an advice columnist. They would probably call me one of those "Right wing Christian Conservative nuts". And to that I would say, "Uh-huh! And thank you, thank you very much."

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