Going Higher

“When they go low, we go high.” Damn you, Michelle Obama! Yeah, I know, I know, take the high road. But taking the high road is sometimes hard. I do know that it’s better to ignore the people and things that want to bring you down. I know that it’s best to “walk away from trouble,” as Kenny Rogers says, when you can. But come on every time?! Can’t I get into a little trouble?

In all seriousness I’ve been struggling lately. I’ve been struggling to turn my brain off and to keep my mouth shut. I’ve been lying awake at night thinking about all the things I’d like to say to some people. Mean, rude, hypocritical people. Sometimes it’s Texas senator Ted Cruz, sometimes it’s the bully from 6th grade..

When I can’t sleep I just rehearse over and over again in my head. I find their email address or their home address. I write an imaginary letter to them in my brain. A letter I convince myself I’ll actually send. A letter telling them exactly what kind of person they seem like. How they’ve hurt me. How far I’ve come regardless. In spite of. Maybe I’ll make a personal dig at them just for fun. But then at some point I’ll hear Michelle Obama’s voice. She says, “Missy,” she calls me Missy. “Missy,” she says, “when they go low, we go high.”

Damn you, Michelle.

I’ve written, deleted, and written this paragraph about three times. Each time I started to explain a situation, a particular person who is making me upset now, go into detail about what I want to say to them, but I keep deleting it because Michelle Obama says I should. So I do. It’s healthier. It’s better. It used to be that I took great pride in my ability to use my words to make people feel incredibly small, when it required it. But now I’d rather use my words to elicit change, to bring people together, to remind people that we should want the best for each other, even those who may not like us.

We do have to keep doing this, y’all, going higher. I know it doesn’t always feel right, but it’s important. If we stop going higher, who will? If we stop being the bigger person, the kinder person, it won’t suddenly make them better people. It will just make us like them. We will be the people we don’t like and it will make us feel crappy. It hurts our heart and it’s counterintuitive to forgiveness. So we press on, going higher and higher, keeping our mouths closed but our hearts open.

M.

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