And then I saw this one and I had to say something because it wasn't just asinine - it was demeaning and harmful. (I am being a little melodramatic, but honestly less than I would like to admit.)
The strongest people make time to help others, even if they are struggling with their own problems.Wow, is this a load of bullshit. I am so fucking sick of seeing this kind of sentiment floating around because it pretty much can only incite shame in the people who read it and really take it to heart. They're going to think of every time someone made time for them, and every time they didn't make time for someone else because they were burnt out and needed to rest, and they're going to feel like shit and they're going to feel weak. Why would anyone want to promote a message that will make people feel ashamed and weak? Outside of propaganda, I can't think of a good reason other than sadism. Or really, if it's truly honestly obliviousness? Please start paying attention. Language is changing, but what we do with it is important. Because it affects us profoundly in ways we don't entirely understand.
What this also does is reinforce the terrible behaviours that our shitty capitalist hellscape is forcing us to adopt, where we feel we must give and give and give even when we run dry, because that's what "strength" is. How exactly the fuck is it strength to keep giving past your limit? Fuck that. If someone needs to take a fucking break, and they can't hold space for me when I ask, GOOD. That's a good thing because it means they are setting a boundary, and they are trusting me to respect that boundary. That is the best one-two combo ever in a relationship: self-respect and trust. I would rather someone say no, than to help me to their own detriment. I like it when people set boundaries to work on getting their own shit together.
This isn't to say I think that we should only be looking out for number one. I don't. But having a community of people who respect themselves and one another, who know how to communicate their needs and who allow themselves to be vulnerable enough to ask for what they want and need, means that people will have time to heal and rest so they can keep helping others and (themselves) heal.
This sentiment makes me think of how my father explained "altruism" to me. He said this came from Ayn Rand, and that was pretty gross to hear, but the explanation is still relevant and interesting. If a parent goes hungry to feed their own children, that is not altruism, because the parent benefits from the action, if somewhat obliquely, because they have a vested interest in their children's survival. But if a parent let their own children go hungry to feed a neighbour's family, THAT would be an altruistic act. The parent is doing good, and not just to their detriment. They are doing it to the detriment of their own children. They get no benefit whatsoever by helping their neighbour, because it means they and their own children will go hungry. The parent would feel guilt, but they would do what they believe to be the right thing, even if they're hated for it.
We don't need to promote self-directed harm just to help others. Because it eventually will lead to a massive dearth of us altogether. One can run on empty for only so long before it kills them.
This weird positivity culture thing is getting to me. I don't think we should give up and I absolutely support looking for the good. But what I'm interested in, what I want to see in the world, is a place where we don't have to choose between self care and caring for others. Because we'll actually have the time and means to recover. It sounds like straight up fantasy, but that's only because it's not something I can have in this lifetime. The road is too long, and I'm quite finite. But I can do my part, even if it is small, to help us keep moving in the right direction, not let us give up hope, even if we move such a short distance it doesn't feel like we moved at all. We are making so much progess it's amazing. The conversations and language are changing faster than ever because we are talking more. That means there is hope.
I don't want hope to be some platonic ideal that is treated like a cure-all salve that relieves us of responsibiity. I want us to know how much our ideals cost us. I want us to feel the parts that aren't pretty, that make us hurt, that bind us together, that motivate us to get through this shit. Because those will be our legends, the stories our children's children's children's will tell of our struggle and of our victories, however small they may feel in the moment.
Armageddon is averted through small actions.**I want to weaponise optimism.
*actually I was just thinking 'whaaaa?'
**Neil Gaiman, "Only the End of the World Again"