(Bear with me, because I’m not quite sure where I’m taking this one.)
So, this summer I was sitting at home on a conference call and I kept hearing weird noises. To the point that I got up and went to look outside the front of the house, because I thought maybe someone was there. But I didn’t see anyone.
A few minutes later I heard a slicing noise at my window, stood up, and opened the blinds. And found myself face to face with two young kids who were trying to break into my house. I was shocked. They were shocked. They took off running. I went to the front of the house and watched them run away and then realized I should probably call the cops.
The cops swarmed the neighborhood and caught the kids within half an hour. Turns out they were very young and had no record.
When I told my mom about it she described their actions as “evil.” Here I am, the supposed victim of their actions, and I just can’t see it as evil. Misguided, yes. Stupid, yes. Potentially the beginning of a long path to becoming evil, sure. But I just can’t describe two stupid kids who looked as scared to see me as I should’ve been to see them as “evil.”
And maybe it’s some weird sort of self-protective mechanism I have that doesn’t let me freak out over bad things, but I to this day can’t feel fear about what those kids did. If I’d turned to see them standing in my actual house maybe I’d think differently. Or if I’d known someone who had been assaulted in their home. Or if I’d been the victim of a home burglary before. Maybe then.
But all I could see is two kids likely with bad home lives and not enough money deciding to do something idiotic. And now those kids have started down a path that they may not be able to get off of. It saddens me. And my mom still thinks they got everything that was coming to them and should’ve probably gotten more.
So, that’s my personal example of how we don’t think alike. As much as we live our lives in parallel with certain people, as much as we share common experiences or histories, we are each unique individuals who come at each and every situation alone in our view.
No one has the same set of experiences, not even a set of twins. And many people have a vastly different experience of the world than you or I do. Whether because of religious upbringing, cultural background, family dynamics, profession, personal experience, or just general disposition.
I forget this, often, and then something happens to remind me of it. Something like my mom viewing those kids as evil while I worry about whether my calling the cops may have permanently changed those kids’ lives for the worse.
Or that nurse in the UK who felt she had to take her own life after a stupid radio stunt. Obviously, the DJs who called her didn’t anticipate that reaction, but something in her life and beliefs led her to react in that way. It’s just another reminder that something that can seem like no big deal or a joke to one person can be deadly serious to another.
I guess I’d just urge people to have a little more compassion. To step away from how you see things and try to understand how someone else sees them. I’m all for serious consequences when they’re warranted. (If those kids had been older or if they’d had a record, I’d say hit ’em hard.)
I’m just not so sure that we aren’t far too quick to judge most times. Especially in this day and age of global news stories and everyone having the ability to voice their opinion on-line. It just seems far too easy for mistakes to lead to outrage to lead to tragedy and all for no good purpose. Imagine how bad it feels to have the people in your immediate life criticize you. Now, take that and imagine what it must feel like to have 50,000 people criticize you. Or a 100,000. Or a million.
I don’t think anyone who reads this blog is the sort to lash out like that on-line. (I certainly haven’t seen it in any of the comments.) So, I’m probably preaching to the choir on this one. Or maybe just to myself. Just a reminder to me that every little bit of negativity directed at someone else is added to all the negativity they’re facing from everyone else. Maybe my little bit is just that – a small little annoyance – but added to the rest of it? Maybe it’s all just too much for that person to take.
And I can’t do anything about what anyone else does, but I can do something about my own actions. So, here’s me, resolving to try to be a gentler, nicer person.