Seeds planted deep into our DNA were meant to grow into fruitful mighty trees

Screenshot (757)Screenshot (758)Dear Richard,

Your Christmas message on twitter moved me so deeply and struck a vulnerable chord in the fabric of my being. I am a foreigner living in the UK. In the current climate, not a day goes by when I don’t give thanks for the opportunity to live in a country which is not my own, to have been welcomed with open arms and to be able to immerse myself in another culture, learn and hopefully give something back too. My folks are all in Spain and though I do not see them as often as I wish to, this is due to the life I chose and not a set of depleting circumstances forced upon me, beyond my control. To think that things could so easily change and I could be forced out from my own home, family, friends and livelihood here in the UK shakes me up to the core.

I miss my large family back in Spain terribly at times but I am blessed and lucky enough to be able to get on a plane at the drop of a hat and go and see them, just like you do. I cannot even begin to fathom what it must be like to feel such terror and threat of staying in your own home that you feel you have no other choice but to drop everything and everyone and flee for your life into the unknown and sadly sometimes into a worse fate than the alternative.

I was out at a Christmas party on Friday night and there I chatted to a Belgian guy who visited Syria many years ago. He told me about this stunningly beautiful country where people used to enjoy the affluence you speak off. Many lived in villas with swimming pools and enjoyed the luxuries and comfort that so many of us take for granted and feel a sense of entitlement to in the West today. And then he told me about the Evil that hit and tore this country apart, the rapes, the violence, the cruelty, the utter annihilation that has engulfed this nation. These people and anyone fleeing their own countries are no more deserving of this hell on earth than you and I, but they sure deserve our compassion and empathy, our love and support. It could just as easily be us having to face, for whatever reason, displacement from our homes and a total alienation from or being robbed off the life that we have always known and enjoyed. Suggesting closing our doors, borders and hearts to those in need is not progress but regressing into a mentality of the survival of the strongest, where the humane part of us is gobbled up by our animal instincts. It is regressing into a primitive state of ignorance and savagery, of dominance and control, a state of staleness and blind spots where cultures and races can no longer learn from each other and enrich each other’s points of view and gifting, be it intellectual, artistic, or even humanitarian. Closing our borders, hearts and minds is regressing back into chapters in history of oppression, annihilation, fear, dominance, holocaust, suspicion and stagnation, creating the perfect environment for yet more radical and extreme individuals to thrive in and take away the core values so many fought so valiantly and sacrificed so much to give us today.

Richard, you are absolutely right. Who are we to judge who can and cannot have what we enjoy every single day? What sets us apart from others to feel with such pride that we’ve earned a life of freedom, civil rights, choice and affluence? Absolutely nought. What makes us so darn special and sets us apart from those who live in the Kibera Slums of Nairobi or the Favelas of Brazil, those who are persecuted for their faith or discriminated against because of their race or religion? Absolutely nought! It is mere chance that has placed each and every one of us in the place we live in, to be born within a particular race or colour and to be brought up to be guided by a certain creed. To think otherwise is to lead humanity into a dangerous downward spiral of selfishness, self-centeredness, narrow-mindednes, greed and success at the expense of innocent people’s suffering and destruction; the most despicable legacy or lack of anyone could leave behind.

There is, however, a point in which I wholeheartedly disagree with you. Your profession as an actor not only does not automatically discount you from voicing your opinion in these matters, but rather places a heavy responsibility on you to do so. Whether you recognise it or not your celebrity status, your reputation and outstanding work as an artist precedes you and makes you into an exemplary role model to thousands of people out there. You have an exclusive and unique platform to not only vent your opinions but to stand up and be counted as a person who will use their influence and global presence to make a vital difference in the course of events in this turbulent world we live in. God forbid we leave the fate of this planet solely to politicians. It is specially people like you who through artistry but also through the multitudinous following you enjoy in today’s most powerful tool, social media, can actively fight the threat posed by the far right views you refer to and challenge the views and opinions of those who blinded by their own egos and agendas are willing to sell their soul to the highest bidder, even when that means putting at risk the lives of millions of innocent individuals.

My wish for this Christmas and indeed for the year ahead is a wish for more courageous men and women like you in advantageous and strategic places in society to follow their true calling or the fire in their belly, the flame that burns within at the core of their being to come forth and challenge relentlessly radical and extremists views at the hands of those who can do the most damage to democratic multi-culturally, intellectually and artistically rich and vibrant societies. I am a great believer in investing my life in exploring and pursuing without fear those little nudges we all get, the quiet small voice in our head that is telling us to push forward in certain areas, to go beyond what we are good at and into what ignites us, what we are most passionate and uncompromising about. Everything about you, starting with the name you have been given, shouts out leadership, righteousness, courage, sincerity and above all an incandescent and latent social and moral consciousness, an unwavering determination to fight for what is right. Yes, you are an actor, but I see another side of you coming through, striving to make itself heard, burning up in everything you do and say. I see a man with remarkable, exceptional qualities, qualities which are not only required but which are essential to fight the good fight, to fight to the end for the things that truly matter in this precarious world we live in.

 May the force be with you! God knows I am.

With love,

Mercedes

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19 thoughts on “Seeds planted deep into our DNA were meant to grow into fruitful mighty trees

    • Thank you Sparkhouse as ever for your ongoing support and encouragement. I try to write my heart out but often I am misinterpreted and my messages get twisted by those with evil intent, and so this is a great deal for me specially when I am addressing it to someone I admire and respect so much. I am glad you found it inspiring. That is great feedback for me. Inspiring others or at least moving them in some measure is all I seek to do with my writing. May I ask what is your first name? I would love to address you as such but I fully understand if you wish to remain anonymous.

      Thank you also for taking the time to write me a comment. Please know it is so appreciated.

  1. Yes, I am on twitter, although I am not prolific or on a great deal of the time
    @sparkhouse02
    My name is Heather
    I am sad hear that any of your, or other bloggers, messages get twisted or attract negativity. Even if there are points I may not like to hear or I disagree with I appreciate them as it makes me stop, think and consider why that is and sometimes my mind is changed, sometimes not. I do look forward to reading your writings. I invariably find things to think about and consider and mull over.

  2. Thank you Heather. I have had a lot of criticism on twitter particularly due to my opinions on Hannibal. I encountered some very nasty characters there to the point where I had to disappear for a while. Social media can be a very manipulative resource. You can turn dozens, hundreds of people against another with one simple tweet about someone else, whether it is founded or not. There is no accountability really. I was shocked at how callously others discarded me like a piece of rubbish based on a difference of opinion. That I could take but when they started bad-mouthing me to others and painting me as this evil person who hates Richard, I realised all the nasty people behind it had created a new “me” of their own to suit their own purposes and that’s when I felt it was best to lay low for a while. Sad really that the very things Richard talks about on the subject of cyber bullying are the very things some of his most avid fans subject other fans to. Sad and unbelievable, but I have been at the centre of that and I know what it does to a person, the power that it can gather to gossip behind someone else’s back and to form an opinion on someone and pass it to others as the gospel truth without a care of how those lies can and may well destroy that person.
    Whatever I may have expressed about Hannibal and Richard’s part in it, I have ALWAYS said directly to him, unlike the bullies I have encountered along the way not having the courage to say things “to my face” but always pretending to be talking about someone else. Pitiable really but by God it goes on a lot on twitter.

  3. Wow, that is sad and terrible that that happened to you. Everyone’s opinion is valid if it is formed and expressed after being first thought about. And you point about some of his most avid fans not respecting others is so true, sometimes the biggest hypocrites do not see themselves. I truly do not understand how someone gets satisfaction hurting another with either words or deeds. I loved that RA took on the Hannibal role. I love that he endeavours to be a serious artist and exploring all aspects of human nature is a part of being a serious actor. It was so interesting to me to read everyone’s views and feelings regarding the role. Those for it or against it, as RA said in his Christmas message, who am I to judge? Anothers viewpoint neither angers nor threatens me — it is all good. Unfortunately many people online behave in a way that they would never ever do ‘in person’. I know it can be difficult but don’t let it silence you. I am glad you are back. Many times when someone is rude, belligerent or what have you on twitter I am tempted to tweet something but I manager to not hit the ‘send’ button (it takes a lot of self control on my part, believe me — I can be a little rash sometimes). But I think to myself… do I want to go there? Do I even want to engage with this person? And the answer is really no, not worth the stress. You are an excellent writer with fantastic insights. I am not a Christian, I was not raised in a religious family; but I love reading your work.

    • “I love that he endeavours to be a serious artist and exploring all aspects of human nature is a part of being a serious actor” Couldn’t agree more but sadly for me his part in Hannibal misrepresented him in both those aspects. On the one hand though his performance was good, his rendition of Dolarhyde, in my opinion, totally loses credibility when it appears in a program that is trying to be all things to all men. Classified as Horror Genre, one has to ask the question: what on earth is the point of all the inappropriate humorous references in the midst of a program horrific enough to make a real murderer do a double take? A 5 year old could have come up with some of the not so funny lines which seek to introduce a humorous side to a subject which is anything but. The script is deplorable. It doesn’t offer any kind of depth or cohesion, and Richard’s performance stands out because it simply doesn’t fit in with the overall vein in which this program has been conceived. The season in which he took part was better than the previous ones but even so, Richard’s Dolarhyde for me just didn’t fit in at all with the general vibe of this program.The whole premise of trying to make cannibalism into an art form and rendering the character of Hannibal as some stylish “artist” who takes such care in the way he presents the “results” of his savage murderous practices is just inconceivable and it just doesn’t ring truth or has a serious approach to a very delicate subject. It is morbid to the nth degree. Then there is also the attempt to mix sexual appeal and tons of eroticism in no go areas where the association between crime and sex appeal will inevitable be made by vulnerable minds. The constant and not so subtle sexual innuendo and the unnecessary indulgence in gruesome visuals just makes this program lose all credibility for me and in doing so, I could never take Richard’s portrayal seriously because the context in which it takes place does not stack up as a serious attempt to bring any redemption or understanding to a troubled, traumatised, ill mind as is that of Dolarhyde. It simply doesn’t work! BUT I agree that Richard was courageous taking on that role. I just think he chose the wrong place and Direction/Production Team to explore such a character. When I think back on what I saw, all I remember truly is his naked torso and his impressive physique contorting in very suggestive ways (and the rest, initially censored takes, made now available for all to see on social media and may I say more reminiscent of a bad porn movie than a serious take on an exploration of a tragic character).

      With regards to the fact that you are not a Christian but still enjoy my writing, I can only say thank you so much for that. There is a suffocating tendency in us Christians to overwhelm those around us with our beliefs and our passion. We tend to be so insular that we lead lives alienated from the real world and in doing so we also alienate those we would love to share with the source of our peace and hope. Yes, we are very judgemental and not as charitable and compassionate as we would like to think we are, and so to have a non-believer say that they enjoy my writing and my insights is indeed a great Christmas present for me this year. I seek to move or touch others in some way with what I share here. My intent is not to convert anybody, but simply to open a window into my soul and hope that someone can benefit in some small way by the transparency, honesty and intimacy of what they read here.

      Thanks again for your feedback and when it comes, your criticism too. Without criticism we will never grow and improve what we do, so as painful as it is to read someone’s disapproval of what we create, in my heart I welcome it and appreciate it.

  4. I agree wholeheartedly with your take on Hannibal; I confess I watched none of season 1 or season 2. I forced myself to watch all of season 3. I agree with what you are saying about the show (I found the first half of Season 3 numbingly boring…and gross/grotesque). It was not my sort of show on a number of levels eloquently listed by you. And you are right, RA’s performance ‘doesn’t fit’ with the show, but is, nonetheless, a pretty great performance. I read the book in advance of viewing the show and so found his lack of clothes not really erotic (after the initial..oh my goodness, that’s RA with no clothes on!) as in the book FD is portrayed the same way. All a part of becoming the dragon in my view – and shedding his own skin. Same for the sex scenes with Reba, I did not find them gratuitous but necessary for the character development and pretty faithful to the book. I also don’t think RA’s Dolarhyde was about redemption but more about the lonely battle for sanity – which he only attempted (and unfortunately failed miserably) because of Reba. And the question is also how much introspection is someone becoming unhinged actually capable of. That is why, even though I cannot get my head around a gruesome show like Hannibal, that I still think RA’s character development of Dolarhyde was so good.

    Thanks for taking the time to converse. I’m so glad you still wanted to after my confession of not being a Christian. I’m not saying I’m a nonbeliever….but not a believer either. I don’t feel it is right and I don’t feel comfortable being a ‘fence sitter’, but that is the truth of it.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, friends and loved ones!
    Heather

    • Hi Heather,

      I just wanted to clarify the point I made about redemption. You are right, the character of Dolarhyde is not really about redemption but on numerous interviews Richard mentioned that it was his hope to redeem this character in some form and to provoke empathy towards him in some way in the viewers. I heard him say this time and time again. He expressed his utmost desire to portray Dolarhyde in such a way that viewers saw past the carnage and began to understand and “empathize” with what led Dolarhyde to the place where he was, in other words not to be redeemed, but yes to somehow be given some kind of leeway and to be “appreciated” in a different light. For me, this was barely achieved because the series was in fact not loyal to the book in its entirety. For example, we don’t see or there is hardly any element referring to Dolarhyde’s rape of his victims. Manipulation of the source (book) was cleverly done to also manipulate how viewers received the final season and Richard’s rendition of Dolarhyde. Whitewash those heinous crimes and then keep bombarding the viewers with shots of his impressive body moving around in an incredibly suggestive manner and presto, there is your formula for a fantastic reception of what you deliver. It is very clever marketing, but art???? I can’t say that that is what I consider artistic, far from it. The psychological evolution of this character is not seen in the episodes in enough depth to be able to create any kind of genuine, heartfelt empathy from the viewers in my opinion. No matter what brief allusion is made to his trauma as a child, the series is dominated by the carnage him and Hannibal leave behind. The whole thing is totally incongruous for me. It is an attempt at something which could have been unforgettable but attempting this in a program like Hannibal is ludicrous. Unforgiveable shortcuts are taken when depicting this character and Richard’s performance is simply wasted and sadly fades away in a half-hearted, not serious attempt to explore the complexities of the human mind and of mental illness, an incredibly important, serious and sensitive topic which happens to affect me in a very personal manner, and which must be treated with great care and respect.

      With regards to the dragon’s shedding of his skin. I got that, but he said it himself he spent most of the filming with no clothes on and this becomes apparent from the beginning right through til the very last episode. How many references needed to be made to the processes going on in Dolarhyde’s troubled mind, to his delusion, to his transformation into the dragon? Once would have been more than enough. I found it repetitive and in the end gratuitous yes. It bordered on being distasteful and a cheap attempt on the director and production team’s part to up the ratings and the hype on a show which was on its death bed at the time, and of course it worked! How couldn’t it? The hysteria on twitter about Richard’s physique was epidemic to put it mildly. He recently said in an interview:

      http://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/richard-armitage-says-pal-aidan-7036960#ICID=sharebar_twitter

      “I feel it as a real challenge to keep challenging that fan base and introducing them to something they wont like…I knew Francis Dolahyde was controversial because I knew a lot of people wouldn’t like him. Because they like you to be a heartthrob or attractive. So I saw that as ‘let’s see if we can change people’s tastes.” Probably the worst interview I have read of him, though I am not sure the source is that trustworthy and loyal to the interviewee’s words, but nonetheless what a non-sensical statement to make on his part. If you want to have a serious stab at exploring the psychology of a deeply troubled individual, don’t spend most of the filming naked, working out and all the rest of it. The sex-appeal and sexual element was palpable right through despite claiming Dolarhyde was sexually inexperienced. If he was in the book, that for me also didn’t come across. If anything, the complete opposite. And with regards to the eroticism, I was not simply referring to the scenes between Dolarhyde and Reba. The whole playing with the food, Hannibal’s, Bedelia’s, the list goes on, suggestive form of speaking and interacting with other characters,as indeed was Dolarhyde’s and Reba’s was just laughable. I am sorry, the whole thing for me was just a bundle of incoherence and a poor attempt at trying to be out there, innovative and pushing boundaries. Sometimes less is more and in this case, I think they simply went too far and failed, and sadly for me, regardless of Richard’s performance, his association with this whole thing is a blemish in his record and not a chapter to be proud of, but of course time will tell. After all, I am just one person with no expertise to offer in this particular area other than that of the paying viewer and being able to relate to these subjects and characters on a human level. I insist, this is just my humble opinion as a viewer and a fan of someone in whom I see soooooo much potential and not potential to just do things as an actor but to do exceptional things with his life.

      I wouldn’t be a very nice person, let alone a Christian, if I decided not to converse with you on the grounds that you are not a Christian. I wish to exchange opinions with you all the more for the fact that you are not. It is easy to have blind spots when we only listen to our own voice and do not allow in anyone who challenges our opinions or view points, which is why I pray and hope anyone reading this who disagrees, will be gracious enough to see that disagreement doesn’t make one person or the other less worthy of being heard and accepted. As you say, when we come across someone who disagrees with us, perhaps the attitude to adopt is not: “Let’s bad mouth and witchhunt this person to such degree that she curls away and disappears” but rather “what is it about this person’s viewpoint that gets so under my skin and why is that? May I learn anything from such a contrasting viewpoint to my own? and if not, why not share with them how you feel about that particular subject so that in the intelligent exchange both people can grow and perhaps educate each other?
      That’s how I regard these conversations anyway. I don’t wish to push my views on anyone, but I would hope that seeing as this is my blog, I can be 100% honest, be heard and at times teach and be taught something or even dissuaded of my firm opinions.
      Can’t thank you enough for your insights and for challenging mine, for being polite and maintaining this as a respectful exchange.

      I wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas far,far removed from the all too real horrors depicted in Hannibal, which sadly seem to be our daily bread, no pun intended, in the news these days.

      Keep in touch!

      Mercedes

  5. Hi Mercedes:
    I read through several of your posts. I have to say I am stunned you aren’t a native English speaker. Your command of the language is excellent. Better than most native speakers. There isn’t a hint in your writing that this is not your first language. So you should never worry that you don’t have the command of the language that allows you to write.
    Your most engaging pieces are, to no surprise, the personal ones, where you explain the link between your personal experiences and your thoughts. They pull us in as readers and keep us engaged in your narrative. Your ability to lay out your vulnerabilities, your anxieties and your search for direction and “truth” are compelling and I think have the possibility of gaining you a pretty wide readership.
    In the pieces where you stake a position (Celebrity Culture), I think what is missing is the interweaving of the personal. Although the arguments presented are good, and clearly well thought, I am missing the thing that makes your other writing so compelling—what it means to you personally. So in that essay, do you find yourself wavering around your own engagement in celebrity culture, or do you find that it creates a wall between you and actors because of the constant spin of their actions? Those are just examples of what it might be—I don’t know what you would choose, because I am missing that from the essay.
    Some of the essays are a little long for blogging. I would target 1000 words as a maximum. It improves the likelihood of readership, because the essays are easy to read during work breaks or in spare time. When they get a lot longer, people tend to skim, because of their limited time. And your writing shouldn’t be skimmed. The ideas you are writing about are weightier than a skimmable essay.
    Your essays on “Signs and Wonders Are All Around Us” are some of your best, because they are tightly written (I think because you did break them up into chapters), and because it interweaves your personal experience and your philosophical approach to the world. I have a few friends who blog similarly and they are building audiences. It’s a slow process, and you have to go find readers.
    One of the things you can do with Twitter and Facebook if you are on it, is to post the title and the theme for each blog after the blog is posted. That does two things for you—it gives your followers a reminder to go read your essay. It also makes it easy for them to share that to their friends, because they can repost your tweet or FB post about what your essay is about.
    I don’t personally subscribe to blogs, because I can’t add to the huge stream of emails I get each day (and where I have the best intentions to follow up and don’t). So I use social media to keep track of my blogging friends’ new posts. I follow links through Twitter about 100 times more frequently than I do for email, and I know from my role at work that this is becoming the norm. So don’t use subscribers as your sole measurement. Track how many people are clicking through your social media accounts to your posts. And try to increase that number, if you do want to grow your audience.
    On your latest essay, I am of mixed mind about whether the letter-writing format works. I understand why you do it, but it feels a little voyeuristic to read, as someone outside that conversation. That being said, you make some really good points in that essay. I think if you keep your focus to a single topic and continue to be brave in your inclusion of personal detail, your writing will continue to engage and appeal to a nice audience.
    Thanks for asking me to weigh in. I hope this helps.

    • Hi Carol,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read some of my posts and for your very useful feedback which I will most definitely take on board and ponder on. I have had friends in the past commenting on the length of my posts and how that puts readers off, but I want to be true to what is in my heart and not sacrifice the quantity or the quality because I am hoping to increase my readership. That is secondary to me. Yes, of course I would like to have more people reading what I write and giving me feedback. That goes without saying, but I can’t always control the muse that is behind the writing. Sometimes it all comes out in one piece and others I dry up within two paragraphs. Breaking down a posts in part 1, 2, etc. is not always possible. I have to go with feeling inspired when and if it happens which is never when I want it to happen or when I feel I have more time to write. I am sure that you can relate as you write too.
      I used to be on Facebook but after trying it out twice, I decided it is not really for me. I used to put a lot of personal stuff on there and the recent experience I have had on twitter since expressing my opinions about Hannibal has taught me to behave more cautiously when it comes to the personal stuff I put out there. Besides, it has been my experience that for the most part Facebook has become just a way for people to show off to each other about what a great life they lead and how they have it all together, which I am sure most of us agree is not really a reflection in most cases of what is really going on behind closed doors.
      Your feedback at least gives me confidence that the reason why I have such few people read my blog after so many years of writing on it is most likely nothing to do with how or what I write but simply the lack of exposure my posts have, so thank you very much for that encouragement.

      • Happy to weigh in. In the end there’s only one person that you need to worry about making happy with writing, and that’s you. If it reaches others, that’s great. But being true to your own voice comes first.

        I try to write every day, even if it’s a struggle and I know I am going to toss everything I do that day. But making it part of my daily routine helped me to improve my writing. So I push to do it. I also have to write for work. So I have had to learn how to channel some voice on command. But it is infinitely easier when I am internally inspired.

  6. Hi M:
    I have some thoughts specific to this essay.
    I would love to see you write an entire essay just on the last subject. I find myself noodling around why Richard Armitage is so resistant to weighing in on such weighty public issues like the refugees, LGBT rights, the new politics of hatred. But then I think about what your experience has been on why Hannibal was such an unseemly choice of characters to portray, and my experiences online for being vocal about the need for gun control, following each new slaughter in the US, and I can understand why he might not want to run into that fray without a bullet-proof vest.
    But even with that allowance, there’s something really disturbing to me about seeing someone feel so disenfranchised about raising his voice and express his own beliefs. And I am trying to dig into why that sits so uncomfortably with me.
    Here’s what I have so far about why that lights a fire under me: I am worried that the only voices are the extreme edges of the arguments. And I think that voices of moderation and considered opinion are desperately needed. I want to encourage them—which is why I wrote you in the first place.
    I also think that for me, I see reticence to express opinion as a potential sign of low self-esteem. It comes from the “it’s just my opinion” with the unspoken “which isn’t worth hearing.” For example, in his holiday letter, he writes, “If you believe in a similar philosophy, thank you for your ear. If not, that’s okay too it’s only my opinion.” And I immediately want to move into “coach” role, trying to encourage people to feel that their voice is worth hearing, that they should have the confidence to speak up and speak out. What they do for a living, what their education level, what their gender or age is, none of that should make anyone feel like their voice is less valuable or entitled. I think the rich diversity of voices is an advantage to us as people, even when I really disagree vehemently with the opinions.
    I also have to wonder how much Richard worries about the fact that his voice is disproportionately loud, because he is now a celebrity. I can’t imagine how off-putting that would be. And perhaps that is it; he has no public voice that isn’t the equivalent of a megaphone. Every word gets weighed and measured. It would keep anyone from making their opinion a regular thing. When you do always have the bullhorn, you have a choice. Make your voice consistent and constant, so the attack trolls finally give up and wander off, or make your statements smaller and rarer to avoid the lightning strikes.
    Because I have the emotional hide of a rhino, I am of the first category. Loud and constant. But I am also aware that not everyone is built of Teflon the way I am. I would wish, though, that a little of my Teflon-ness would be passed on to others.
    Carol

    • Hi again Carol,

      Totally agree with what you say here. I have indeed written a couple of pieces about Hannibal on the blog, which are partly why I encountered so much aggravation, hatred and harassment on twitter from some very motherly like figures and pretty nasty individuals who feel Richard needs protection and defending every time someone challenges something he has said or done. If you go back quite a bit, a few months back, you will find my posts on Hannibal.

      I think Richard is reluctant to express opinions on big issues like the ones you mention because yes whatever he says is scrutinized and there will always be those who like myself (and I am a huge fan) will challenge certain things, but I also suspect and I may be wrong that it is also because he knows the risk he is taking in stepping into that very precarious and tricky arena. After all, acting is his thing and right now he is climbing up that very steep ladder, so he doesn’t want anything or anyone to jeopardise his chances. It is on the second point that I was challenging him with my letter. I get a very strong impression from his recent words and things he has expressed in past interviews that he indeed has a very strong social consciousness, an overwhelming sense of social and moral responsibility, but that he lacks the courage to pursue that fully, actively. What I mean is if he genuinely feels he should stick to what he is good at, he would never voice any kind of opinion on current issues, politics, or anything else, but he clearly has a big heart for those who suffer, those who hurt, those who live in disadvantageous conditions, those who are mistreated, etc. My point in the letter was simply to encourage him to focus on that more, because that passion transpires out of him when he speaks, almost more so than his passion for acting. I however often get a very strong sense that he wants to have his cake and eat it. He wants to pursue his career as an actor but also be credible as some kind of humanitarian, charitable, social activist by simply dipping his toe in and out of certain areas. Something is going to have to give if he wants to make it to the top, leave a legacy, be influential, change the landscape in either arena, in my opinion.

      Yes, I think there are also issues of self-esteem. He knows what he is good at, that acting is what he has tried and succeeded at and so why rock the boat and embark on an altogether much more life-altering, risky pursuit. Fighting for social and humanitarian issues is something that is utterly sacrificial and life consuming. It is easy to dip in and out and say a few words here and there which make one sound like we are committed. It is a different thing altogether to commit your whole life to that cause. I can’t hardly judge him in any case, because I see myself so much in the person that he already is, but much more so in the promise of who he feels he could be. I am very passionate about certain issues as you know, but I too lack the courage to give myself 100% to those issues. In my case I use the reason or more so the excuse that I am a mother and a wife and I can’t just jeopardise my family life in trying to make the world a better place. A cop out, I know, but my cop out nonetheless, and one most of us use to keep on at what we are good at instead of following that seed that has been planted in us and nurturing it day by day until it grows into the fruitful tree I spoke about in the title of this post. As you know I am a Christian and I get those nudges all the time. I “hear” God’s voice in the small things of my everyday living asking me to step out and follow my passion but whether I can figure out what that is in time and whether one day it comes to fruition or not, remains to be seen.

  7. I am not religious, but I have a framed piece with a quote from Mother Teresa. The piece is a series of self-posed questions and answers. The one that I find I refer to the most often says, “What if I give my best and it’s not enough? Give your best anyway. Because it’s never going to be enough.”

    I have what I call a Mother Teresa complex, where I feel like my job is to save the world. Nothing like feeling like you have to do the impossible. So I try to focus that energy on the doable. It has taken different forms over the years. I was a midwife trainer in Africa for a few years before my country dissolved into civil war. Knowing that you can leave and everyone around you cannot, that’s an emotional burden I find hard to shake. And then I decided to adopt a foster child here in Chicago, in which I learned that love doesn’t heal everything. (It was the filming of Urban and the book brought me into the RA fray; I had seen him in the Hobbit, of course)

    Then I brought home an orphan girl from Africa. While I was picking up my youngest daughter, there was a teenager in the orphanage with polio. Which immediately made me feel like I was still not doing enough. But I am raising these girls alone, and two was the best I could manage.

    So I know that “need” to build barriers so your commitment doesn’t become some all consuming flame. I get it and I try to be empathetic when I see others’ struggle to find the balance between personal life, appropriate boundaries, and the need to raise out a hand to lift at least one other person up.

    I think what drives my impatience is when I see people stifling their voices. There’s so much effort beyond raising your voice, that raising your voice seems like the least one can do. Then I remind myself that it’s isn’t always without cost that they raise their voices. And so it might be with Richard Armitage. But sometimes I wish that the lovely Mr. Armitage was just a tad braver.

    • Wow Carol! How humbling to read the wonderful self-less things you have done to “raise out a hand to lift others” as you beautifully put it. There is not much more I can add to what you say, other than to commend you for speaking up from a place of integrity, sacrifice, courage, and putting your life where your mouth is, if you get my meaning or leading by example. You can give so many of us Christians a true run for our money. One does not need to be religious to have a major positive impact in this world. or to have a purposeful life. All we need is the courage and determination to give our all to what matters to us, no matter what the cost.

      I know exactly where you are coming from. My husband spent some time in Africa too with the church I used to be a part of (he still is) and as a result we support primarily financially two orphanages and a school in Uganda and Kenya respectively and we also sponsor three children in Africa, which pales into insignificance with what you have done raising your girls and fostering a child in the States. Your heart must be as big as the passion and relentlessness with which you battle against the current issues you mentioned in one of your previous comments. What an inspiration you must be to those close to you and those who have had the privilege of meeting you in person.

      With regards to your final paragraph, I can only agree, but courage often means sacrificing those things in life one is not prepared to give up, so in the end it all comes down to: it doesn’t matter what we say or how we wish to come across to others or even the dreams we have for ourselves and our potential to change this world. Unless we are willing to put our all on the line, unless the cause we champion is more important than the things we would have to give up to pursue that cause fully, nothing that we say or do can make a truly lasting impact. It’s like starting a race time and time again but with no intention of ever getting to the finish. We get the glory for taking part, but nothing much is achieved.

  8. I agree completely. And I wonder if he’s making decisions in favor of his career that he will one day rue, because they have compromised his personal life. I hope he finds a way to be an open partner and a parent before he runs the risk of becoming the world’s oldest preschool parent.

    One of the things about my experience is that I realize I have been extraordinarily blessed by my experiences and my children, so I feel lucky for having them. I don’t feel like I am the one who is the inspiration. My kids, on the other hand, have worked to overcome so much that they’re the ones who fuel that.

    Have a very merry Christmas. And keep up the writing and the openness.
    Carol

    • Yes, Carol that is my fear for him too.
      Take it from me, your story has inspired me and I am sure many others.
      Have a lovely Christmas yourself. I hope you come back and bless me with your wisdom and honesty.
      Thank you for your time and feedback.
      All the best for the New Year.
      Mercedes

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