Sarcasm, Love, Intelligence, Fear

At what point did being cool, aloof, and sarcastic get aligned with intelligence and worldliness? And at what point did being loving, optimistic, and emotional get merged with (at best) naiveté or (at worst) being simple-minded?

I ask because it’s clear that at some point these distinctions were made. I expect that you’re familiar with them. You may or may not have thought of them in this way, but nonetheless I imagine it’s not a stretch to recognize this.

I know I thought this way. I know that I have spent most of my life resisting the idea of being openly sentimental because I worried that people would think less of me. I thought if I went around talking about joy and love that people would think I’m a ditz.

Growing up I found that humor which was simply clever wasn’t as popular or well-regarded as humor that was clever and cutting. I learned that having a critical opinion was a way to show intelligence and a certain kind of superiority. I gathered that sarcasm and doubt could be used to show sophistication. Bitter novels were smart. Happy movies were dumb. End of story.

And now I think all of that is just sad. And actually a little dangerous.

It’s sad that the fear of being vulnerable, being disappointed, of having our hopes dashed keeps us from being open and loving. The real danger is not that others will think you’re naive. The danger is that you’ll get hurt because you care so much.

Seeing this has made me consider that being aloof and sarcastic is a sign of fear, an unwillingness to put yourself on the line, a holding-back of desires. As long as you don’t get too invested, you’re protected from risking your heart — and that, really, is the scariest thing to do.

So the shifted reality that I embrace now is that those who are willing to be hopeful and caring in the face of all the danger and judgement are the ones who are being brave. And those who criticize and look down upon others, the ones doing the judging, are the people who are living in fear.

And why “dangerous”? Because criticism is so steeped into our culture that we don’t recognize its relationship to discrimination. We don’t question complaints about “stupid security people” or “idiot delivery people” or any of the other “dumb-people-I-had-to-deal-with” stories we encounter all the time. And yet I can’t help but feel that somehow we’re condoning the sense of superiority that runs through these stories. Believing in the rightness of social hierarchies, reinforcing the desire to lower others to be sure that we’re not at the bottom – this is what separates and alienates. This is so much of what is at the root of bigotry, hatred, and bullying.

I’ve recently started sending messages of affection to people I care about. I’ve started to use the word “love” much more publicly. I still worry that others may think that I’m less intelligent or sophisticated because I’m talking more often about emotions and hope, that I’m out of touch with reality just because I’m optimistic. But fear be damned. I’m going for it. Because it feels so much better to be taking the brave path and gamble on the chance to feel love all around me than to fearfully isolate myself just to be protected from the risk of heartbreak.

I have to be willing to be vulnerable in this world as a form of courage. I already know it feels great to talk about what connects us and to celebrate other people. And so, yes, I’m willing to risk it. I want to create a world where we embrace each other, even in the moments where we’re frustrated and angry and scared. I’m willing to stand up for love. And if that just leaves me with a big, dopey grin on my face, well… so be it.


15 responses to “Sarcasm, Love, Intelligence, Fear

  1. Bravo, baby. I was just having a conversation with a friend wherein we were able to chalk up most of the evils in the world to fear or (sometimes willful) ignorance, or a combination of the two.

    You keep that smile on your face! I like it there, and I love you all the more for the bravery it takes to wear it in the face of the opposition that happiness can encounter in the world. Go you!

    • Thanks, Paul! That sounds like a conversation I could be having, too. I will keep the smile on – always have! I love you, too. You go on with your community building self!

  2. Love beats fear. It’s infinitely more powerful. Though that power can be scary. Embrace it. I think you’ll find that this simple change of viewpoint is going to radically change your life. I know it has radically changed mine.

    Big, dopey grins FTW!

    • Aaron – I 100% agree with you. I have been embracing this and am now feeling so great about doing so more publicly. Thanks for the reinforcement. Big, dopey grin firmly in place!

  3. Great blog Cianna! What frustrates me too is the perception of work on your psyche, growth work, or anything dealing with mental state is perceived as “weak”, “cheesy”, “crazy” or “desperate”. I wonder if that’s related to the belief connection emotional to naive or simple minded.

    • Thanks, Lauren! I agree that labeling growth work as “weak” is frustrating. I’ve also been finding that the loudest voice making those accusations was inside my head. The people outside are often far more supportive than I expected them to be. And no matter how they started off thinking about it, when they’ve seen the results, they have no choice but to appreciate it.

  4. *megalike*

    i am definitely guilty of this; i can be very judgmental for someone who cares so deeply about equality and eliminating intolerance! it’s good to get this reminder. 🙂

    • Yay! Thanks, Lila. It’s hard to avoid feelings of judgement – we all have them. But I’m finding there’s so much power in thinking about the motivations behind having them. That’s proving to be the most effective for defusing their potential damage.

      & I *megalike* you!

  5. “Fear, greed, and the desire for power are the psychological motivating forces not only behind warfare and violence between nations, tribes, religions and ideologies, but also the cause of incessant conflict in personal relationships.” -Ekhart Tolle (“A New Earth”)
    This quote resonated with me recently, as soon as I read it. You just (essentially) posted about it. The universe is telling us something 🙂

  6. Nora – That quote is perfect. Yes, the universe is telling us all something. I do believe that we’re at least preparing for and at best undergoing a shift in our collective consciousness. This is where I am optimistic. Thank you for that!

  7. Yes!!!! yes to all of that! Discrimination and judgement were born out of a belief that there is not enough to share lol. and the de-evolution of love has been digressing ever since. ‘The heart that breaks is but opening again. The wounds of life, they bring healing my friend’ I forget the song name and artist, but i doubt she minds, she cares. I LOVE YOU AND YOUR OPEN HEART!

    • Thank you, Noah! You understand exactly – I will think further on the impact of scarcity on all this. “The heart that breaks is but opening again.” So very right. I know you know this and live it! I love your openness and the joy you share so freely!

  8. This is so awesome Cianna. I’ve always been very sarcastic as a persona to protect myself at times when I don’t know what to do socially. It has been interesting to watch myself become incredibly angry in response to my recent move however. Just when I need to embrace a new place, my fear and vulnerability has created the impulse to completely spurn everyone around me — very backwards self-protection. (Of course being sick and sleep-deprived isn’t helping increase my natural charms any :P) I have always been conscious of the fact that trying to be satisfied with and embrace your life is not at all culturally supported, being uncomfortably aware that I’m socially rewarded for being disapproving and angry. It’s great to read your thoughts on the subject. Always glad for your voice on the net — some of the only media I’m consuming these busy days.

    • My dear Hilary! I will support your efforts to embrace your life! Life that’s difficult but is lived with purpose can be so much more deeply satisfying than one that is superficially happy and pleasant but lacking in substance. You, my friend, are always reaching for deep connection and truth in the world. This will expose you to so much more pain – and so much more richness and joy.

      Your fear is valuable. It’s trying to protect you. But I believe you’re strong enough that you don’t need as much protection as perhaps you once did. I see through your sarcasm – ha ha! I see that you care! No hiding. I love you and your own willingness to share your struggle as you are changing your life!

  9. Letting go of fear and judgment. Embracing a more compassionate and authentic expression in the world. Walking in beauty.

    These divinely inspired tasks are just that: tasks.

    At the heart of my struggle in these realms has often been
    what I perceive as the crux of your courageous post: “I still worry that others may think that I’m….”

    So I am about to posit heresy into this conversation!

    In the words of Charles Berner:

    “In the end, one has to abandon effort and just be open, because as long as one is doing anything, there can be
    no enlightenment experience.”

    Well I don’t know about enlightenment, nor is that some kind of ideal that I’m striving for. But he is pointing towards what I might call Grace.

    There is some…wave… of self-acceptance that washes over me at times. When I’m in that immersion, usually initiated by an inspired blend of inner and outer meditative practice (like dancing! or sitting in vipassana, writing poetry, or doing absolutely nothing with great gusto!)
    when I’m in that immersion-
    judgment and fear drop away effortlessly
    surfaces from it’s shroud.

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