Sticks and Stones

Although this hasn’t happened to me recently, it’s still on my mind because i’ve seen (or more accurately heard) this going on far too often.

I’ve said it once and i’ll say it again: Sticks and stones will break your bones, and words scar souls forever. I don’t believe in the version that says “but words will never hurt me” because it simply isn’t true – words have an immense impact, especially on people who value other’s opinions.

I think all of us are guilty of this kinda thing at one point of time or another – myself no exception. We all say things that we think are helpful and honest-to-self, what we feel is the right thing to say, without considering how the other person would feel when we say it. It could even be a joke, unintentional ribbing, or as blatant as a chiding, scolding, slamming or utter insult. My stand is: if it’s sensitive to the other person, don’t touch it. Or if you do, recognize the impact that you make. I would think that most people who recognize the impact won’t even touch it in the first place.

Some things are wrong, and they need to be corrected – that’s a truth of life. But i always believe that there are ways to go about it without making the other person feel inferior/inadequate. As far as i’m concerned, the only person i’ll ever do that to is myself, and that partly because i tend to be harsh on myself (the alternative is that i’ll be too soft and that’s bad for myself). Isn’t it much more loving to make your point of view and opinion known to the other person and have a discussion/debate (albeit not a heated one) about whose way might be better? Furthermore, it may open up new perspectives that one party had never thought of; in which case the misconstrued “wrong way” would simply be an innocent and perfectly forgivable oversight on the party’s experience.

I do believe that tekan-ing works, and it does. I just don’t believe that it’s the best way. How can it be, when it fosters negative emotions and causes the person to do it to avoid hearing more of the same from the other party tekan-ing him? There’s no dedication in that, and for those of you who say that you should be dedicated enough to what you are doing in the first place so the tekan-ing has no impact on you, i’d like to see you work in the future. Or better still, go through army.

At things like this i always remember an analogy from Max Lucado. It is a customer’s right to bark at the service personnel who doesn’t meet a reasonable and paid request. It is a father’s right to shout and scream and yell at the kids who are making noise in the living room. It is a superior’s right to punish a subordinate who was in charge of something that didn’t go smoothly under circumstances that were not in his control. But it is not loving. I remember how i’d get punished in army for something that i didn’t do, or something that was under my perusal but not in my control. I’d accept it, mainly because i had no choice, but i didn’t like it. Nobody likes something unloving being done to them, and i promised myself that when i became a superior to other people i wouldn’t do the same. Sometimes i break that promise and i beat myself up for it, i’m not perfect. Sometimes i scold people and i don’t like that side of me, be it for a good reason or none at all. Sometimes it has to be done, but it does anger me to see people who don’t even try to avoid such a situation; it reminds me all too much of army where the first reaction to anything is to shout at the person whom you think is at fault. And when you realize that the person you shouted at is the wrong person the embarrasment is utterly hilarious from a third party’s point of view – too often i was shouted at or shouting at someone else and either way i didn’t like it.

I think, but i may be wrong, that the best way is often the loving way. Even discipline must be in love, because discipline for discipline’s sake is mindless torture. Especially now, i appreciated the way my dad punished me; carefully measured to fit the offence, and tailored to make sure i would learn a specific lesson, instead of taking out a ruler and going *whack* on my palms. Dad always told me that when he punished me it hurt him more than it hurt me, and i didn’t believe him till much later in my teens when i had to take on a supervisory role and dished out discipline in my own measured form under his advice.

But on the flip side, since i like to consider all perspectives, I guess sometimes what i deem to be the wrong way is other person’s only way of showing that he/she is concerned. It’s good to take everything like that with a pinch of salt, though i truly understand that sometimes it can be so hard to do so, especially if your defenses are down and you’re bogged with a burden on your back (whoa. alliteration.) It gets tough when it comes from all angles and you have no one to turn to, much like i was in army. Yet i suppose i wouldn’t really want to have to come to the point where being a harsh critic is the only way to go. I guess different people view it in different forms – like how you’re trying to supply power to a torchlight that requires 4 AA batteries but you’ve only got a 9V one with you; it’s not that you don’t have an electrical supply, it just doesn’t fit. Same thing with caring i guess – some people show care and concern in ways that other people just don’t interpret the same and although it hurts and it sucks to be on the receiving end, that’s how the giver gives it. Of course, electrically speaking, you could supply the power to the torch with a transformer and a few wires, but that requires work, and it’s the same with showing concern in a way that the other person would appreciate it as well – they both require a decent amount of work.

I’m no guru and i don’t profess to know everything, but having seen this happen before and being on both sides of the situation, this is just my take on what i’ve been observing to be happening rather frequently in society these days.

All you need is love
– John Lennon

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