Kids going to school in the 80s and 90s did not get the same exposure to “bullying” as kids do now. The bully back then was a real stand-out kid, the stereotypical macho, hyper-aggressive, low-intellect, unhygienic, knuckle-dragging waste of human flesh. Well, that’s I looked at them.
Each of my kids are chatter-boxes, but they’re each completely different in how they chatter and what they chatter about. I like hearing what they have to say about the world around them, and how they perceive it, so I often engage with them about world events. Sometimes I get literally nothing out of them, and other times I get more than I bargained for when they tell me something that I wouldn’t agree with or didn’t see coming. Then there are times when it becomes abundantly clear that they’re listening and processing in those moments of silence.
Over this weekend I had trapped one of them in the car with me as I running her around town. As always, when there is no sibling competing for attention –or air time– the chattering starts up. This is always the best time to jump in and see what kind of thoughts are bouncing around their minds. This time I had Paris on my mind and I wanted to get her take on it.
Of course this event was not on her world news radar as this particular kid (12) is more into gaming than social media, so she had no idea what I was talking about. I simply said that terrorists attacked Paris, in multiple locations, killing more than 100 people. There was some silence after than, in what I thought was a lack of interest, but she started to ask a few questions about who the attackers were and why would they do that. I provided the limited answers that I could, and after a while she started to make more sense than most people in any government.
For the sake of simplicity, and because I am not one known for a perfect memory, I’ll paraphrase what my 12 year old had to say about war:
“I think it’s stupid for people to be so one-side about war. The people they’re killing aren’t the bad guys – they’re just people who have families too. And THOSE people think WE are the bad guys, too. It’s just a point of view – we are all just people. They think we are bad, we think they are bad, but none of that matters. It’s just killing and it’s stupid.”
I should point out that she added angry emphasis onto “stupid,” as she is known to do when things are stupid (in her point of view).
This didn’t really strike me at the time. I was proud of her for thinking like that and I told her that she is absolutely correct. I pointed out that so many people haven’t reached that level of thinking yet. But, since it was just so like her to say that, I didn’t come back to it until I drank a cup of my Facebook news feed this morning.
A friend of mine wrote, “If you feel so strongly about sending people over to other countries to kill people, just go yourself.” Yea, he is right, and after reading that I was reminded of my daughter’s point of view, and so I posted it there as a comment, just to add some strength to the sentiment, and as the day went on I realized that she had a point strong enough to warrant repeating (thus this posting).
To be honest, I’ve had the same train of thought before as I pondered American patriotism vs Canadian patriotism. I’m not a fan of the Canadian military just because I’m Canadian, which I’ve felt is the default American point of view. I’m not a fan of a war just because Canada has sent its military there, either.
I mean, what would you say war is, if a little kid asked you? How do you avoid telling the kid that war is when two or more countries can’t agree on something so strongly that they start a big fight where the purpose to destroy their land and kill as many people as needed to make them stop defending themselves? That’s what happens: mass killing and destruction, then total submission. After the submission, then what?
She’s right, it’s just killing and it’s stupid.
Praying for Humanity isn’t going to do a thing. What we need to do is think and act more like lives actually matter.
When someone pisses you off, you will probably have an emotional reaction. I do.
If your reactions are visible (like mine often are) to the offender, they’re most likely gonna either defend their actions, or continue being offensive (if they’re very offended). It is highly unlikely that they’re going to provide flowers and rainbows.
Now both of you are fizzing with negativity.
When was the last time you were kind to someone being negative towards you? You could probably count the number of times on one hand, and the same is probably true for them as well.
Every choice we make from that point of view is being made thinking about how we were just offended, not thinking about the other person’s point of view – and why should we be considerate to the one who is offending us?!
So if we react negatively, we satisfy our egos and pride, and our sense of fairness is now balanced out. We can say, “I put that dumbass in their place!” But, they’re not going to take THAT lying down though, so they, too, rise to meet our negativity.
Here’s a thought: THEY are reacting to US. WE are making the situation worse by being negative. WE are not allowing them to back down. WE are not allowing them to save THEIR ego and pride. Our negativity towards others forces them to be negative to us. We make it next to impossible for the good in them to be revealed.
When we don’t care about the other person, like a stranger, there is really no reason to be so critical because we will likely never have to face that person again. They’re just a nameless face, or perhaps they’re a face we really, really want to get back at.
But wait, let’s suppose –or pretend– that we actually care about that person. Do we continue with our negative reactions, or do we stop and think it through from their point of view first? Did they mean to be offensive? Do we ever ask yourselves if you had that coming? Do we ever stop and face the mistake that we may have made?
Here’s the hardest part, the evolve as a person part: Our aggressive reactions towards others are really just a simplified way of avoiding facing ourselves. Being wrong is embarrassing and our egos do not want anything to do with it. Also, knowing that our actions have harmed someone we care about is very difficult to deal with: guilt & shame. If we face our mistakes, we’re forced to deal with them, or accept our failure, which only compounds the problems. It is far easier to shift and dodge the blame, or to be more aggressive so that the focus is never set on us, than it is to take a detailed look at ourselves, apologize, and commit to improving.
So, maybe we don’t defend and we instead own our errors.
Maybe we don’t over-power people and we instead embrace them as people with their own feelings.
Maybe we don’t deflect blame away from ourselves and we instead ask for some understanding of our faults.
Maybe if we do crap like that we can have better relationships – even with people we don’t like.