Outside the Pale

I’ve opened my computer several times previously today so that I could write a blog post, but each time, I’ve played a few games of solitaire and then closed the computer.

Almost anything I want to say about the situation in the world today would put me even further beyond the pale than I already am. Many of my blog readers seem to appreciate my struggles to understand the truth in light of two very different narratives being told today, but other people . . . not so much. They believe what they want to believe, and call everything that doesn’t fit in that belief system lies. Or fake news. Or however else the current lexicon defines an opposing viewpoint they consider invalid.

I did find it interesting that the tarot card I picked today said I was an intelligent and complex woman, a truthseeker, open to hearing the thoughts and opinions of others but able to filter through all the rhetoric to see what is true. It’s how I like to see myself; how I hope I really am.

Which brings me to another point — a pointed stick, in fact.

I looked up the origin of “beyond the pale,” and the “pale” (aka “pole”) was a pointed stick (or a lot of pointed sticks) indicating a boundary. This phrase has been around since the twelfth century. Apparently, when the Normans invaded Ireland, they built a palisade around Dublin to protect themselves from the barbarians who lived beyond that pale.

Considering that I have built my own “pales,” both the fence around my house and the small area I have staked for my own on the internet (this blog, of course), perhaps it is others who are beyond the pale — my pale, anyway — while I am solidly within my own pale.

We all create our pales, I suppose, beyond which lie dragons (and barbarians). The problems come not when people stray further beyond some ideolgical pale, but when they physically force themselves into someone else’s pale.

Ah, see what I did? In a roundabout way, I ended up talking about that which I didn’t want to talk about, but it really is hard not to stray into that particular pale when it is so much on my mind.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

3 Responses to “Outside the Pale”

  1. Joe Says:

    That’s exactly where the word “pale” in this context came from but I didn’t realize that “palisade” is linguistically related. Interesting. As for barbarians, to the Normans, the native Gaels may have been barbarians, but the Gaels later had to fight off the invading English, ultimately losing when England essentially annexed Ireland in order to keep Spain–England’s arch-rival for control of the seas–from using Ireland as a backdoor to invade England. The Gaels’ tribal nature and petty squabbles made them difficult to unite, although Hugh Roe O’Donnell certainly tried. Why the history lesson? 🙂 Probably because I note people have been squabbling over issues large and trivial since forever and I doubt it’ll change.Setting limits and boundaries is always a critical task. Otherwise we’ll have no peace of mind.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      That reminds me of the American aborigines — if they had banded together instead of continuing with their historic wars and enmities, they could have stopped the Europeans at the Mississippi.

  2. Judy Galyon Says:

    Beautiful picture!!!!! I don’t know your reference to “pale:”

Please leave a comment. I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: