We’ve all been there.
We’ve said or done something we shouldn’t have. Maybe it was in the heat of the moment. Maybe it was because we were having a bad day. Maybe we were sleep-deprived or otherwise preoccupied. Maybe it was just a temporary lapse, in which we either said what we were thinking in that moment and didn’t mean to or we thought that what we said sounded better in our heads, but failed to find the words to say it more tactfully.
Whether we’re the one who offended or the one who felt offended, what unfolds after the fact is very important. How to react is a choice, for all people concerned, and one that requires careful consideration. How each of us handles such a scenario says a lot about who we authentically are and, sometimes it evolves into something that’s not even about the original statement. The behavior that follows the action or statement is indicative of the character of the people involved and it’s when true colors surface that we must pay closer attention.
Instead of the standard knee-jerk reaction, I believe it’s more beneficial to give pause for consideration of the following:
- What are the circumstances like for the person who offended me/us? Maybe they’re fighting a difficult battle. What if they found out that they were losing their job? Or that they ~ or someone close ~ had a terminal illness? What if they were in pain from an injury or feeling sick due to illness? What if they were depressed and/or suicidal? Lonely and/or grieving? Abused or bullied by someone else?
- Does s/he have a history of offensive behavior or is it the first instance?
- Has there been a genuine apology and feelings of remorse?
- Is there a likelihood that it’ll happen again and repeatedly?
If we don’t really know the person, there has to be a consideration for what s/he might be going through, because we all have our bad days. To retaliate without knowing what’s going on with someone is totally unfair and it only makes matters worse, particularly without knowing all the facts.
We must remember that the way we choose to react reflects our character and reputation. If revenge is our “go-to” reaction in every given situation, that is cause for concern. There’s no justification for revenge, simply because we’re offended or hurt by the actions or words of someone. An act of revenge isn’t automatically “right”, just because someone else caused a conflict.
Additionally, as a general rule, personal conflicts should NEVER find their way to the public arena by the “wronged” party. The world of social media is no place to publicize the mistakes of someone, for the sheer purpose of inviting others to hop on the abuse/criticism/judgment bandwagon. It’s one thing for conflict to take place between two people or a small group, where it’s contained and resolved quickly; it’s a whole ‘nother thing to invite participation by larger group of people who may find it easier to criticize, insult, abuse, judge someone they know nothing about.
The trouble with promoting a “mob mentality” is that loyalty changes within the mob, depending on the current “target”. If one wants to be a part of such a dynamic in a group, one must also accept the possibility of being a target. It’s all sweetness and support among those who are on the same side against someone else, but anyone and everyone is fair game for being attacked if there is opposition or someone doesn’t agree with the “majority”. I’m willing to bet that those who don’t agree with the overall consensus are probably afraid to speak up for fear of being turned on. Who wants to belong to a group like that? Not me. I’ll stick to the peaceful coexistence I have with the wonderful people in my support network, where there is the security of knowing that misunderstandings won’t result in a widespread attack across all the social media sites.
We will have far more success, as a global society, if we heed the following reminders:
- Compassion, understanding and acceptance are important. We’re human. We make mistakes and sometimes exercise poor judgment. We have differing perspectives on any given subject, because of how we were raised and the experiences we had. We are going to offend someone, at some point, even if we don’t mean to.
- Conflict doesn’t always have to be a negative thing. It’s an opportunity to learn something about ourselves and others, strengthen a bond of friendship or experience personal growth.
- Revenge always, always, always has real possibility to escalate to a point where someone can wind up seriously hurt. Or worse. And revenge never makes anyone feel better. Really.
- Just because we are invited to take part in a publicized conflict, doesn’t mean we should. Instead, we should ask ourselves why we’re being invited and what we have to gain by participating. It’s one thing to offer support to the “wronged party” but not if doing so means attacking another person ~ and being encouraged to do it. If the “wronged party” believes it’s okay to retaliate and incite hate against someone, for whatever reason, s/he would probably do the same to anyone, just for the hell of it, even someone who’s considered a friend.
There’s far too much hatred, abuse and judgment in the world.
Let’s promote love, peace, understanding and acceptance instead.