Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Cynicism vs. naivete

The experience I described in my thumbring post has left me with some very uneasy feelings. I tend to be a bit reactionary in matters pertaining to affronted sexuality. Chauvinism of any kind absolutely gets my hackles up, even on the occasions when it slips past my filters and I am the offender.

Sometimes, though, an offense has long been committed before we even become aware of it, or like yesterday we become aware of it once it's in progress, and we may already have participated in creating what seems to be an awkward and demeaning situation. In such circumstances, I'm not sure if I should assume the worst and feel bad when folks prove me wrong, or assume the best and feel naive and stupid when they live up to the nastiness of which all humans, both male and female, are capable.

Regardless of which way I fall, cynicism or naivete, there's always room for vigilance and guarding of my person so that I would be less likely to find myself in situations where my judgment or the integrity or character of another person are compromised. This sort of caution doesn't have to be the function of cynicism at the one extreme or naivete at the other. It's just plain good sense.

Was it foolish for me to accept a cup of coffee and friendly conversation yesterday from a seemingly benign local business owner? I wasn't looking for trouble, and I assumed he wasn't either. So I did accept the cup of coffee. I guess in doing so I erred on the side of trust. After all, it is *possible* he was simply warning me, in a fatherly way, of the possibility of mis-communicating to other men who might be less kind. Perhaps the trustworthiness I assumed was not ill-placed. At this point, I really have no idea what to think about him. I'm just trying to sort out how I got as far into the situation as I did without realizing that maybe I shouldn't have been there at all.

Unfortunately, because I wasn't suspicious of him nor particularly on guard for myself, I can't remember how things unfolded well enough to judge if I practiced good boundaries or not. If I didn't, I guess next time there must be a better way to carry myself. If I did, then maybe I can stop fretting and be glad that whether or not the man's intentions were honorable, I left with my honor intact. While it would be nice to be able to trust other people always to treat me with the respect every person deserves, there's just no substitute for personal propriety.

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George MacDonald

"Home is ever so far away in the palm of your hand, and how to get there it is of no use to tell you. But you will get there; you must get there; you have to get there. Everybody who is not at home, has to go home."

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