A few weeks ago I wrote about compassion (see Where Does Compassion Fit?). That post came from a number of issues including subjects that were being discussed by other bloggers, as well as a slowly developing personal belief about how I treat others. Several issues came up from the comments to that post, as well as from that which I have been reading about in various places. So I need to return, in some way, to the subject or I will never get to sleep at night…
I was about nine and sitting on the outside fire-escape stairs at school one afternoon. The class bully (M) came and sat down next to me. She wanted the watch I was wearing. This watch was a gift from my grandmother, who had gifted three of her old watches to her three grand daughters. The watch was probably about 70 years old at that stage. It was gold and was very precious to me. M pulled the watch (on my wrist) towards her and then suddenly let go. Naturally my arm flew back into the brick wall I was sitting next to. The glass on the watch smashed as it hit the bricks. M seemed happy with what she had done but left me in tears.
That afternoon when I got home I went in search of my Dad. I found him in the church (he was the minister and so the church was next door to our home). Dad took me on his knee as I told him what happened. I told him I wanted to get M back. I don’t remember the whole conversation but I do remember what he told me about revenge. “Two wrongs don’t make a right” he said. I wasn’t going to fix the matter by trying to hurt the bully back.
Something that struck me in that last post on compassion, is that for many people they hold in their heads the idea that there are a some people who don’t deserve compassion. “They’re not human beings, they’re monsters“. I struggle with that one because I believe that those ‘monsters‘ (a human being is never a monster in my mind) are simply people who have been on a different journey. And who am I to judge someone else’s journey?
I’m not saying that if people have done harm and maybe have some criminal issue to address, that they shouldn’t be held accountable. I’m not saying if they have hurt me, then I don’t have the right to be angry and hurt. I’m simply saying that for me, those ‘monsters‘ are still human beings and so still deserve my compassion. I can address the issue of the hurt they have caused me, but I do it with compassion. Not always easy to do, but for me it’s worth trying.
I know that’s a hard one to swallow, and I can hear people saying that I just haven’t been hurt badly enough by those ‘monsters‘. Actually I have had more than my fair share of hurt from those people, but I simply don’t see that I have a right to turn around and seek to destroy them. To write them off as not even worth being called human.
Maybe my compassion for them takes a different form than for someone who hasn’t harmed me, but I still have a responsibility of compassion toward my fellow human being. And actually, it’s the way I prefer to be. It, in time, enables me to let go of the anger I felt.
I know many people might disagree with me. That’s ok. What I’m doing here is thinking out loud for myself. I am in no way telling you what you should do. I believe that is for each of us to work out personally.
The purpose for me blogging is not to ‘make it‘ to the ‘cool group‘ of bloggers. Actually until a few weeks ago I never knew such a group existed. So I’ve now read, apparently it does. I don’t want to be cool. I don’t need thousands of followers. I am happy to have the people who read my blog, as I really appreciate them taking the time to read what I write.
I have never been ‘Freshly Pressed’, and actually I suspect I never will be. I don’t write the right things for that, and again, it’s not one of my goals. Perhaps if my goals as a blogger were different, then I wouldn’t write posts such as this but I need to express myself when I get really disturbed by what I see/read.
Lately I have seeing some really hurtful things being posted, attacking people, often all in the name of getting one back. I think it’s really sad if that’s what blogs are used for. Naming and shaming. Revenge. Getting one back. Bullying. Even standing by your friends. Whatever you call it, all it is does is hurt people (often innocent parties too) and frankly puts me off wanting to be a blogger, let alone read blogs. To be able to write and express ourselves so freely makes us fortunate as writers. We shouldn’t abuse that.
Many of us have histories of being hurt, abused and badly treated. For many of us expressing that hurt is what blogging is about. But it strikes me that having experienced these things in our lives, we should have a much better sense of how much harm we inflict when we choose to attack others. I continue to want to treat other people as I would want to be treated.
I want to be clear that I will never use my blog to attack another person. I am quite clear that if I have an issue with a person, then I can deal with that directly, but it is not the way that I want to blog. If I find myself having done that, then it will be the last post that I write. I also don’t intend to follow blogs anymore where individuals are being attacked in ways that seem inappropriate and unfair.
I can’t tell others how to behave, but just think about this… do two wrongs make a right? If so, then who has become the bully? And what do we think of bullies?
Personally I can’t stay quiet when I see bullies in action.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
― Desmond Tutu