“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Tolstoy
I felt my acerbic impulsiveness possessing me. I tried to think of the most venomous word. My thumbs couldn’t stop from polluting the airwaves by firing off a barrage of insulting and abusive texts directed against my loved one.
What had started under the most trivial of circumstances “Hi, how are you?” escalated to a heated discussion. She had been asking for help the past few months. It had become a recurring theme. But rather than agreeing to help her, I launched an attack, because she had not listened to my earlier advice. And that has left me carrying the financial burden for her mistakes.
I was apoplectic.
Maybe it is the Middle Eastern way of dealing with anger. It goes like this: someone is advised by their family regarding a certain situation, they disregard the advice and later need to ask the family for help to unravel themselves from the consequences of their poor decision. Then the family gets angry about their advice being ignored. It is a way of adding insult to injury. It’s like “I told you so, but you never listened!”
In my case too, I think she should’ve listened; and I added insult to her injury and left her in a state of distress. I had mixed feelings of being victorious and cowardly.
After we ended our discussion, the perverse episode gnawed at me. I was standing outside looking at the dark sky above. The secret voice inside me made me feel like a coward because my family and loved ones always saw the less admirable part of my character. I tend to inflict psychological harm on the people closest to me, or on the helpless.
After I cooled down, I reflected on the larger implication of my ethical mistake. In a world full of sorrows, how many ways are there to live? Many of us have the willful desire to pass pain on to those weaker than ourselves, or to our subordinates.
My impulsiveness betrayed me. It made me speak the language of an abuser. I fell asleep without knowing she was admitted to a hospital overnight. She came back from the hospital and texted me. I woke up to her messages. As I read them I felt the pain I had caused her.
The concept of a moral hero came to my mind. I asked myself what makes a moral hero?
I don’t mean to be pontificating here, but I believe it is that person who forgives when it’s difficult to forgive, helps when it’s difficult to help, and loves when it’s difficult to love.
The word hero may sound inappropriate in this context. The prestige is stripped away from it. But in its essence, a hero is that person who is important in our eyes and close to us.
I’m sure many of us have been in similar situations. We feel guilty for a while, then forgive and move on. In my situation, it was a moment that tested my self-control.
I read stoic philosophy every day, and try to live by it. I decided to write this blog to hold myself accountable to changing this bad habit…to be free from this compulsive tradition. Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
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