“I want a brighter word than bright.” -John Keats

I am imperfect and so are all of you. There is beauty and frailty in that. I feel beautiful and frail tonight. I have for several days now. I want a brighter word than bright, but I can also relate to how Keats felt here:

“I am in that temper that if I were under water I would scarcely kick to come to the top.”
― John Keats

I feel wonderfully stable in my personal life, yet my blogging life is giving me quite a bit of woe. This is the first time that is the case. This is me kicking to the top as best I can.

I have made mistakes. I have witnessed mistakes. There has been a lot of talk (read: disagreement) about what those mistakes are. Everyone has a piece to say and everyone feels they are right. There is listening and hearing and ignoring and criticizing and dehumanizing and pontificating and thoughtfulness and respect and anger and frustration. There is all of that and more, often studded with orange stars.

I believe in peace, compassion, understanding, and empathy. I know that my fellow bloggers do as well. So how can it be that we are all so sideways? We are imperfect, but that is no excuse. There are only a couple of people whose heads have remained completely cool. Other than those few, are we all just giving lip service to these ideals? Do we abandon them when push comes to shove?

No, it isn’t that simple. Still, there is a small fact that has been burrowing through my brain like a cancerous tapeworm. I do my best to be compassionate and empathetic in my blogs. I don’t always do this well, but I try. As a result, I don’t get controversial often. The one time I post something knowing it would incite controversy (but still believing it the right thing to do), my stats exploded. It was one of my highest comment days ever and broke my page view record.

Compassion and empathy are what I believe will make the world better, but they are all but ignored when standing beside controversy. This makes me sadder than I can possibly state.

There is but one small seed of hope. The page view record set by controversy was surpassed by something better, communion. Alan Rickman died and my post with Dumbledore’s quote about death was suddenly in demand. This wasn’t about me or my post, it was about people grieving a life well-lived and remembering a time when they read something that touched their humanity.

I watched the page views soar hopefully. I wanted so much for communion to beat controversy, even in this smallest microcosm. It did and I felt better.

The disagreements have continued and my reservoir of compassion and understanding is nearing empty. I know I do not understand you all perfectly. I know that we do not agree on all things. I don’t want that. I want honesty. I want recognition of truth and I am willing to fight for it. Compassion and empathy are necessary, but so are grit and passion.

I spent too much of my life smiling and saying things I did not mean for the benefit of others. Those habits are still with me, but I am breaking them down a little more each day. This week has not changed me, but it has shown me where my line lies. I champion peace and understanding, but not at the expense of truth.

There can be no peace or understanding where truth is forfeit. My mind is open to the fact that what I think of as truth is not always so, but I will drown if I sacrifice honesty for peace. I want a brighter word than bright, but also a brighter world, so you can find me kicking towards the sun.


27 thoughts on ““I want a brighter word than bright.” -John Keats

    1. I enjoyed the video, it was a weird experience.

      I think the answer to the question is yes. I see you more clearly now than I did before. I don’t think your defense of your comments was sufficient. I think they were dehumanizing, the last thing I would expect from you. Honestly, I’m just sad about it.

      I have no desire to go another round. I don’t think you want to either. I’m just disappointed that yet again there is a colossal, vital point being missed by people I care about. Am I totally in the right? Doubtful. But I know I’m not totally wrong.

  1. It’s none of my business what’s been going on for you (other than what you choose to divulge) but I will say this… I believe in those things too. Like you, I’ve nodded and said whatever other people have wanted me to say nearly my whole life. I’m only just now learning to be myself and shake off those shackles of false expectation. I would encourage you to keep doing the same.

    For what it’s worth, I’ll keep reading. Even when I disagree. How else can I stretch and grow? Living in the bubble I have been won’t do that. So, yeah, keep writing. Keep saying what you gotta.

    1. The desire to keep the peace is difficult to overcome for a variety of reasons. You’re right though. We have to keep doing so if we are to grow, if we are to ever attempt to know. Thank you for reading.

  2. This is a good post.
    I think I can’t handle confrontation. I don’t like it when those I care about speak past each other, that disturbs me.
    Don’t desire perfection. That would make life boring. Just be MMJ with opportunity to make mistakes.

      1. I think this quote by Hazlitt is appropriate for this discussion and others surrounding it

        The best way to make ourselves agreeable to others is by seeming to think them so. If we appear fully sensible of their good qualities they will not complain of the want of them in us

  3. Dear Madalyn,

    You are a wise and brilliant young woman. That you should so concisely capture the essence of a situation and write such a profound commentary is indicative of your passion for truth, as well; it’s admirable.

    Keep talking, Madalyn, it’s all any of us can do.

    I find myself taking lessons from people much younger than me – it’s humbling. 🙂

    1. You are exceedingly kind, Carmen. Thank you. I don’t feel wise or brilliant at the moment–just trying not to drown, but I’ll keep talking. Thank you for your presence and comment.

  4. I like Keats. To the extent that in my pre vegetarian days, I went to Foyle’s and bought a leather bound copy of his poetry. Oh that we could all express ourselves so eloquently.

    But from Keats to Niemöller. I find his quote a useful guideline when I think whether or not to challenge a statement. Compassion and empathy are great. So is understanding.

    And back to Keats.
    ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty. That is all … ye need to know’. (Grecian Urn)

      1. Yeah. First they came. It troubles me that people do not stand up for others so that one resonates deeply.
        As for Keats, I thought his writing in itself was sheer beauty. Perhaps we should take time to read more poetry by the classics.

  5. I recently had a similar experience. :0)

    At the end of the day, it is easier to call people out than it is to work with them to reach mutual agreement. It is also easier to lob disagreements than it is to work through those disagreements to something, if not fully agreeable, at least less oppositional and/or workable. Worth it, in the end (at least in most cases), but not easy…

  6. I am friends with a radical feminist. She said to me, “You know I see you as a man, don’t you?” Well, yes, but a disagreement even about that is bearable for me because I enjoy the friendship.

    I like interaction on blogs, the best is reading another’s and both commenting on each other’s; but that is a fragile form of friendship. What do we do when we disagree, or offend each other? Patch it up if both are willing or move on. There are other bloggers.

    My post today, beginning Commenting on blogs can be a delight and a pain. has had far more views from the Reader than I normally get.

  7. For what it’s worth I enjoy your writing very much! This post reminded me of an old movie called “Greedy” with Micheal J. Fox & Phil Hartman. Phil’s character finally reached his limit in the movie, and shouts for years I’ve been tasting your crap, smiling, and saying good cook! No more! (not the exact wording it’s been awhile, but you get the idea) It’s your blog so you should write as you please. If someone doesn’t care for the post they should simply not read it, and find another. It would truly be their loss. 😉 G-uno

  8. Madalyn, I read your post last night, but was just too spent to comment. However, I was deeply moved. As I read about the activity on your blog, comparing the “negative” to the “positive” post views, I was reminded of several studies I read about negativity bias. I think that it’s not necessarily a bad thing that more people tuned into your “negative” posts.

    Studies show that neurological differences point to greater processing of negative information. Participants exhibit greater event-related potentials when reading about, or viewing photographs of, people performing negative acts that were incongruent with their traits. This additional processing leads to differences between positive and negative information in attention, learning, and memory. People tend to think and reason more with negative information than with positive info.

    The studies have also found that this preference for negative traits over positive traits is thought to be a consequence of behavioral expectations. In other words, there is a general expectation that people will generally behave positively and exhibit positive traits. So, when we post about “negative” information, people are naturally going to be curious, because they are unexpected, and thus more salient. We are hardwired for negativity bias, and for good reason.

    So, IMO, the high rates of activity on your blog post speaks volumes about your readers. It’s not negative, either. 🙂

    Hug

    1. turns hug into bear hug

      Thanks, V. I really do appreciate the data. It makes me feel better, but I still wish we could connect to positive information that way. Any studies on the line between engagement and an unwillingness to change one’s mind?

  9. I struggle with all these issues as well. One important thing I’ve learned, however, is to write what I feel passionate about, rather than what I think will get the most clicks. I’ve noticed the posts that I know will be popular (like reviews of movies that just came out) do boost ratings for about forty-eight hours, but over the months they disappear from my ratings. The posts posts I care about (like the reviews as an atheist) sometimes don’t cause a blip at first, but keep being revisited over the months. The highest ranked posts and the ones that I felt were most authentic tend to overlap very well, if I look at what has staying power instead of what just causes a spike.

    So don’t worry if not every well-reasoned, moderate post beats the initial ratings of your most controversial works. Your intelligent, compassionate, fair-minded approach is what brings the bulk of us back, week after week.

    1. Thanks, Lane. I do see the staying power of some of my favorite posts. You’re right, I wouldn’t attract the same type of people if I went for controversy and click bait. There is no danger of that happening here, but it still nice to hear. Thank you. 🙂

  10. Blogging is often an exercise in tolerance and intolerance I find. It gives us insight as to where our lines in the sand are drawn, sometimes resulting in said line being moved a little from the place we always thought it would sit, other times our convictions and passions hold the line fast and deep. It all comes down to whether once that line has been crossed, do we still wish to converse with those who have crossed it? Jumped over it merrily sometimes. That’s where the tolerance comes into play if we genuinely like the person. If we think of them as friend. And that’s the point where I’d be likely to talk to them privately perhaps. Otherwise grudges are easily formed, ones which we may not even be aware of, disappointments weigh upon our hearts, and it all this eats away little parts out of our happiness and joy of blogging away quietly in the background.

    Humans. Absolute buggers to get on with and understand at times. I’m glad to be part Cloud sometimes. I really am. smiles.

    esme upon the Cloud

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