Thursday, February 04, 2010

This week's lesson: kindness

"If only I had known."

We've all said it, of course -- usually after we gave somebody exactly what they deserved for being such a jerk.

But then we discovered (too late!) they'd just lost their job . . . or their father had just died . . . or they'd just found out they have Lou Gehrig's disease.

In short, there was a reason why they were acting like a jerk.

That's why I try to remind myself just how much I don't know about rude and obnoxious people -- how much I don't know that might explain their behavior.
  • Did they just get bad news?
  • Are they off their meds?
  • Is their behavior caused by Alzheimer's, a brain tumor, or some other medical problem?
And no, this doesn't excuse what they do; neither does it necessarily mean I let them "get away with it."

But it does help me keep their behavior in perspective, and not take it quite so personally.

Chances are good, after all, that even the person who's being a jerk doesn't know why . . .

But if they had known why, then maybe they would not have been such a jerk!

There's so much we don't understand, after all -- and so much we all would have done differently . . .

If only we had known.

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