Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Ego and Entitlement: The Source of Social Ills

Do you ever stop to think about how EGO is the force behind all social dysfunction, aggression, and injustice? The attitude of entitlement--stemming from ego--leads to all forms of "supremacy" that make one person feel justified in dominating another. I saw evidence of egotistical entitlement in action today....
I was driving through a grocery store parking lot, and stopped to let a woman cross in front of me to get to her car. I waved her onward, and she smiled appreciatively and waved back--and our shared moment of respect between stranger-neighbors made me smile. Then another woman marched in front of my car, imperiously raising her hand at me with an expression that said, "You wait for ME now!" She flashed no smile, and gave me no nod or wave; she didn't even make eye contact with me. That display of entitlement sickened me. I shook my head and drove onward, passing by a shopping cart left in the middle of a space, just a few feet away from the cart corral. More entitlement...

Now that I'm sitting at my computer, I'm wondering whether I should have called out, "You're welcome!" But that would have been egotistical on my part, and passive-aggressive. Or, should I have called out, "Ma'am, no one owes you anything. You could at least smile at me for stopping"? Or, should I have simply come home and written about the experience here, hoping that someone reads these words and offers a smile of appreciation today for a stranger's simple act of kindness, to mitigate the ripple effects of entitled attitudes on society?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


          #NationalPoetryMonth inspires me to add more poetry to both my own and my students' writing collections. So I use prompts with them that also move me to write what I assign. My students liked this, and I hope you will, too.

Inner Riot
(inspired by the poem "Harlem," by Langston Hughes)
by Susan L. Lipson

What happens to social outrage,
never acted upon?

Does it whirl around like a funnel cloud,
in search of captives to uplift and transport,
Or does it hover indecisively,
Then get blown out to sea?

Does it spark like twigs and logs,
carefully stacked and lit,
Or choke like embers
smothered by handfuls of sand?

Maybe it just gets buried,
like nuclear waste?

Or does it burn like a city set ablaze by rioters?

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Bittersweet Truths for Writers Who Strive To Share Memorable Words

From my years of writing words intended for many more eyes and hearts than they often reach, I have synthesized the following bittersweet truths and guidelines for myself, as well as for fellow writers:

1) Exasperation over sometimes absurdly long delays in artistic gratification may be part of a bigger plan for eventual success, in which time is irrelevant. Write memorable words and they will be remembered, even if not within the time frame you desire. 

2) Expectations of others' reactions to your words can hinder your openness to hearing those reactions. Listening does not guarantee hearing any more than looking guarantees seeing. Remove your filters--the expectations--and take time to process feedback without simultaneously qualifying its relevance. 

3) There is no such thing as a definitive "final draft." The author must settle on defining "final" in terms of a work's readiness to move others without further revisions--and the author's readiness to move on to another project.

4) Your words are yours to hatch and nurture, no matter how long they have to sit in a journal, a computer file, or your mind; consider them as germinating, not wasting away. 

5) Some obscure comments from editors make sense in their own time, via epiphanies visible only to eyes freshened by time away from a manuscript. Celebrate each realization with a zealous revision and a self-congratulatory hug for your progress.

6) Treasure all comments about how your words moved a reader, even if those words only appeared on a post you wrote on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog. The point is to move people, and if your public works evoke written responses, even negative ones, you have succeeded in evoking emotions and inspiring others to write.