There is a game children play called, “Pick Up Sticks”. The game is a cardboard tube filled with extra long sticks, sort of like ten inch colored tooth picks. I guess the game has something to do with picking up some number of sticks under certain conditions. Knowing so little about this particular children’s game however, makes me an expert on you.
I bet you paused there with some sort of unsaid expletive. How could I possibly an expert on you? After all I do not know your name, where you live, or any other information about you, other than you are reading this post at the moment. I do not even know when that moment will be.
You are absolutely correct. I know nothing about you, except you are on my blog reading this post. Yet I can say I know everything about you because of the Pick Up Sticks children’s game. You, I, and everyone you know are who they are because we all picked sticks dropped by adults around us when we were children.
Here is a sixty second test you can take to see why this is idea is true. Think about a topic that really sets you on edge. Any topic, religion, politics, the Middle East, race, EU, starving children, gay rights and/or gay activists.
You hold strong feelings on some subjects because you picked up a stick on this subject as a child. Someone gave you a stick which you picked up and made your own. If you did not pick that particular stick, the topic(s) which rile you would not be important at all.
Are you thinking that is not true? You know you have very good reasons for feeling the way you feel about your hot topics, namely you are right, and others are wrong! Where did those feelings come from? Who told these ideas to you? You were not born with these thoughts, they did not blossom in you from outer space. Somehow you were exposed to your hot topic, and it was reinforced often enough to develop strong feelings about it.
I have strong feelings about the save the children programs. Humanitarians enter underdeveloped countries and feed, cloth, and vaccinate children so they can grow into healthy adults. This topic irritates me on a number of different levels.
All we have done and are doing is entering a region that is supporting a larger human population that it can naturally, and creating a synthetic environment where even more people are living long enough to have even more children than their own generation. This means even more children living in garbage dumps, drinking sewer water, and “struggling to survive for another day in grinding poverty”.
I think my strong feelings about this topic started when I was a kid. I would be guilt-ed into eating all my food with the phrase, “You better eat all your food because of the starving Children in Africa”. Family members often repeated this phrase, either to myself or their own children, giving added weight to the original stick given to me by my own Mother.
Think deeply why you have strong opinions on certain topics. Think about where the stick you picked up came from. We are born pretty much a blank slate. We learn from whatever ever we are told. As children we are a sponge for every attitude and belief of our parents and other adults around us.
As adults we have very strong opinions about many subjects. Some beliefs we hold are so strong we are willing to to lose our life over them. Other beliefs we feel less strongly about. All our opinions and beliefs are not ours at all. All through our childhood we have been picking up other peoples sticks of opinion and belief.
If you uncover your feelings and beliefs trying to find justification for for them, you will wind up empty handed. Sexual orientation of people around you does not mean anything once you throw away the stick you hold that says it does.
Neither does skin color, race, or religious preference matter when you go back and find the first stick you picked up on these subjects that made it important. Your ethics and mores are arrived on a stick you picked up from an adult when you were little. Growing up in a different land, or environment, your ethics and mores may be completely different because the sticks you hold are different than mine.
It is true, I know all about you because I picked up many of the same sticks. You know all about me for the same reason. We both know all about other people too. No matter who we are, and what we believe, it all started when we unknowingly started picking up sticks dropped around us by adults in our life when we were children.
You now know all there is to know about picking up sticks. What happens now? Do you allow yourself to get angry without really knowing why something is important? Do you decide this post is a waste of your time? Do you decide I am not thinking correctly?
Better for all of us, are you going to start examining all the sticks you have collected over your lifetime? Are you going to look at them impartially, maybe for the first time? Which sticks are worth keeping and defending, and which sticks are pure poison? Do you pick up this stick that I have offered, or is it too scary to touch?