Sometimes life has a tendency to trigger certain thoughts, memories and emotions based on past events, and I’ve never been content to hold a dismissive attitude – as if to throw my hands up and say,”It’s in the past; it’s not like I can change it” – especially when it comes to myself or how I have treated others.
Some recent discussions have made me think back many years – grade school, junior high, high school and beyond. How did I treat people? It’s almost as if I see a different person back then when compared to who I am today. I suppose that’s common. As people grow and learn, there can be an evolution in thinking. More experiences and more living bring new ways of seeing things.
I don’t think anyone these days would accuse me of being religious, however that wasn’t always the case. But as I think back to the days of being part of an organized belief system, I fear that I didn’t act appropriately with some people. I fear that I was judgmental, intolerant and quite possibly arrogant – negative qualities for which I don’t want to be known.
I hope that wasn’t the case. I would like to think I still treated others with respect and dignity. But did I? Are there people who I went to school or hung out with who see me in a negative light today because of things I said back then? There are certain instances I can think of, and which I regret. But if I can think of a few, what about the times that may have slipped my mind?
I try to respect people and their opinions, even while disagreeing – the concept of disagreeing without being disagreeable, attacking an idea rather than the person who embraces it. I hope I am successful in showing that. Some people don’t even attempt to do that, and I admit my anger in many of those cases. Just recently, I witnessed a kind, humble person with great talent get verbally attacked for no reason except another person didn’t appreciate his artistic talents. Rather than offer a thoughtful critique of any specific work, this person delved into personal attacks based on absolutely nothing but a seemingly undue arrogance that vandalism is the only true art. Or some such nonsense.
Never defining any terms or specific gripes, he was content with his attempts to tear someone else down. The whole scenario reminded me of a quote from Christopher Nolan’s film, The Dark Knight. Alfred, speaking to Bruce Wayne, says of the Joker, “…some men just want to watch the world burn.”
There are people like that, who are content to destroy, or even find some joy in an attempt to tear people down. I don’t want to be one of them. I don’t want to be seen as negative, even with my strong opinions. I have many friends with whom I disagree – vehemently at times – but at the end of the conversation or debate, we still continue mutually respectful friendships.
I fear that I didn’t always express this attitude, or that I may forget to do so in present times, and for that, I apologize.