Wednesday, September 12, 2007

All is forgiven

I take it back, Emeril. I don't want to smack you anymore. The enchilada lasagna really was delicious, although extremely rich. However, I told Ken, "Enjoy it while you can, because I'm not making this again!" I'm sure that when I retire, I won't have any qualms about spending extra time on dinner, but right now, spending several hours on a dish is just a little too much for me!

My buddy Jim wrote about something on his Myspace page, a book called The Four Agreements. I had never heard of it, but apparently it's been a bestseller for a while. I like some of the philosophies, like being true to yourself, but one troubles me a bit. I understand the jist of it: don't take anything personally. Realize that if someone lashes out at you, it's just them, it's nothing to do with you. Now, I'm all for projecting a calm and peaceful manner, and I think it's very important how you react to situations. Do you go off the deep end, get all upset or angry or react in a bad way? That doesn't help matters any, and does nothing to defuse the situation.

However, to me, that almost seems like giving people an excuse for bad behavior. "You just called me a bitch. I understand that you're having a bad day, and I understand that it's nothing to do with me." That doesn't work for me. I am not going to react badly to you, but I think I certainly have the right to say, "That's unacceptable, and you have no right to call me such a thing." This is part of what makes a civilized society. People must be held accountable for their actions. If you murder someone, you are prosecuted and get a trial by jury. If you lash out and call someone a bad name, you should be told that that is unacceptable behavior and learn not to do it again.

I remember back many years ago, I knew this person who had a habit of saying something sort of hurtful to people and then saying, "Just kiddin'!" After a while, it really wasn't very funny, so some of us started saying hurtful things back and then saying, "Just kiddin'!" That person wasn't laughing after a few minutes of that, and I think they realized that saying a phrase like "just kiddin'" doesn't negate a mean comment. Sometimes I believe it's acceptable to make someone understand the consequences of their words or actions, and to let them know that they are being hurtful. More than likely, it wasn't being done out of malice, just plain cluelessness. (Although I also believe there are people who are just plain evil and vindictive, and those are people you want to avoid.)

Part of being a decent and civilized society is knowing that our fellow human beings will hold us accountable for our words and deeds. It's all part of the checks and balances of society. I see nothing wrong with calling someone out for bad behavior. That doesn't mean that we should react in kind, but we certainly should be able to say that we don't care for their behavior.

It all comes back to the karma thing. I really do believe that what goes around comes around. You may cruise through life for a while without suffering the consequences of your actions, but it will eventually come back to you. A lifetime of bad behavior and poor judgements will not go unnoticed. Think about it--if you treat people badly, why on earth would anyone want to be around you? I'm easygoing, but I'm not an idiot, and I choose not to be around people who do not treat me--or others--in a decent manner. That's a no-brainer for me. So if you behave that way, you will eventually alienate everyone. For such a person, things might turn out differently if someone speaks up and says, "You shouldn't treat people that way."

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