Then and Now

I love it when people give me something new to think about for a bit.

Tonight, a friend’s husband offered up some insight to the situation I blogged about the other day. His thought, the individual who has been working so hard to frustrate and annoy was likely on the receiving end of unkind behavior at one point in time in her life. How often do we hear that a person’s actions as an adult have been influenced by cruelty experienced as a child or teenager? Of course, this could have nothing to do with it whatsoever. It does give me pause though.

No matter how tough or unphased an individual seems, there is a general need in life to be loved, accepted and noticed. This isn’t anything to be ashamed or embarrassed about. It is perfectly natural. When a person is denied those needs, it isn’t easily forgotten. Deep hurts result. Everyone deals with the void in their own way. Some act out violently. Some take a turn behaving in a similar fashion as those who hurt them so long ago. Others simply tuck it inside and no one is the wiser.

The thought this individual’s actions may be influenced by past pain is hard to process. I look at my daughter and think of how much cruelty she has to face on a daily basis. All of the stares and comments about her birthmark are difficult to shrug off. Pretty soon she will be old enough to know and understand that some in this world view her as unattractive or strange. How will she store these experiences? Will they resurface in her future? Will she take a turn at singling someone else out as different or ‘ugly’ when she is older and her birthmark is no longer an issue? I’d like to think her own experiences with people being cruel would make her more sensitive to other people’s feelings and less likely to carry on in a way that is hurtful. This is definitely one of the things I am going to store in my mental notepad to be sure we work on together.

Past pain is never justification for people’s actions. Lord knows we can’t let the molested molest or the abused abuse because someone did it to them. We can take the time though to consider when someone is saying or doing hurtful things that they themselves may be hurting as well. Not sure what the solution is. This insightful husband didn’t have a solution either. If this individual was indeed on the receiving end of insensitive or mean actions at some time, well, I feel horrible she had to go through such a thing. I am frustrated with her actions, but I don’t enjoy the thought she may have felt as bad (and likely worse) at one time as those she has taken the time to be insensitive towards lately. Again, this is no justification. People have a right to be angry over the behavior. It does take some of the venom out of my reaction though.

We really do need to teach our children at an early age the importance of kindness and being inclusive. Appreciating differences versus singling them out is invaluable. So many of our society’s current struggles are rooted in the past. We can’t change the past. We can reshape the future with a little care and attention to the present.

5 Responses to “Then and Now”

  1. Angela says:

    What a wonderful blog, Lisa. It made me think and also gave me some perspective.

  2. adverbia says:

    Would you think I’m horrible if I told you the whole time all that drama was going on I was like, “Really?” My folks have often accused me of being pathologically disinterested in other people’s suffering. I am beginning to wonder if there is something to that.

  3. Amsterdamn says:

    As long as you don’t pathologically cause others to suffer, it’s okay.

  4. lisa says:

    :-)  Good point Amsterdamn. Feel better Adverbia? :-)

  5. hpsnowgirl says:

    Beautifully put, Lisa. Sometimes when we get hurt, we lose the compassion all too quickly. Looking behind a situation like this where someone is trying to sting someone else, really lessens their stinging power. Thanks for bringing this up.