I’ve never been much of a story-teller, but I’d like to give it a try. I want to share a story with you. It’s a true story about a mere 3 second encounter I had last week, and my thoughts afterwards. Perhaps, from this story, we can grow to be better people. Or, at the very least, this story will get us to be more reflective of our actions.
As I was waiting to turn at a stop sign, I noticed a man looking at me from his car across the road. We were both stopped at the sign – I, waiting to turn, and he, waiting to go forward. As it came my turn to go, I noticed the man rolling down his window, sticking his head out of the car, and as I passed by him, he spit right at me.
Thankfully, my car windows were up.
In my culture, spitting at someone is the worst form of insult. Yet, as I passed this man and continued to drive home, I was not so much insulted as I was curious. I wondered about his actions and his intentions. What was this man thinking? What was going through his mind?
I wish I could say that this was a once-in-a-blue-moon encounter, and that it’s never happened before, or that it probably will never happen again. But, it’s not. I always seem to find myself in these situations of obscurity, and while it took some time, I’ve come to look at such instances as beneficial nuggets of knowledge.
Beneficial you ask? Yes, beneficial, because even the worst situations and the most hateful insults and comments have a silver lining. Instead of chasing after people for doing stupid things, or returning an insult with an insult, or causing havoc throughout the land because someone or something upset you, I say let’s learn the art of being constructive teachers; people who teach by good actions and words, instead of rage and blindness.
Some people may disagree with this ideology. You must fight back, they say. You need to stand up for yourself, they’ll defend. You can’t let people walk all over you, they’ll exclaim with anger. But, just because a person approaches a situation in a different way, it doesn’t mean that this person has given up their right to defend themselves, their ideas, their opinions, and their values. Fighting fire with further fire doesn’t solve anything. On the contrary, fighting fire with fire only further ignites the flames.
What we as a society lack is compassion and understanding. There is growing emptiness in the heart of our society. Where once this heart was filled with kindness and forgiveness, we’ve let bitterness and hatred eat away at it, leaving behind an emptiness we fill with continued hostility, instead of humanity.
People are not perfect. Sometimes, they have good days, and sometimes they have bad days. Sometimes they’ll “mess up real bad”, and at other times they simply just don’t know any better. People will make mistakes, and they will insult you, and they will degrade you. Some people will knowingly do this just to make a point, or perhaps feel superior. Others will ignorantly do it, not knowing or understanding how their actions have impacted you.
Yet, despite all of this, I still stand strong to what I say: we must learn the art of constructive teaching.
We need to remember that we are all human. Regardless of our religious practices, our political stances, our cultural beliefs, our moral values, or our lifestyle choices, at the end of the day, we are all human. We all share the rhythm of a beating heart. We all understand what it means to smile and what it means to cry. We all experience the emotions of love and sorrow. Let us not forget that at the core, we are all the same – only a few things make us different.
So, to the man who spat at me last week, I forgive you. I will not judge because you are more than your actions. You may have had a bad day, or maybe you are just ignorant and truly don’t know any better. But, regardless of this, I hope the best for you.
Compassion doesn’t make you weak, forgiveness doesn’t make you defenseless. So, seek knowledge and seek truth, not with a mind of judgments and a tongue of hate, but with a heart of mercy.