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More often than not, we (and they) don’t mean to be mean…

02/17/2015 12:49:17 PM


Rabbi Scott Hausman-Weiss

Now it is true that there are times when people purposely, pre-meditatively, meaningfully seek to do us harm. They contemplate it. They meditate on it. They dream about it and then they inflict their damage on our hearts and souls.

That said, more often than not, most of the time, people who say things that hurt us or do things that cause us harm are often acting quite unaware of the pain and damage they may be inflicting (particularly those closest to us). Think about it – how many times have you heard someone express his/her anger about something you had done, to which you responded, “What????? I didn’t do that!” or “I didn’t say that.” And after listening a bit more, perhaps you find yourself saying, “Well, I certainly wasn’t trying to hurt you; I certainly didn’t intend it.” And more often than not, pain inflicted aside, at least consciously bad intentions are absent.

But before you either resent what I am writing or feel affirmed by it, here’s the rub. In order for us to make a rapprochement with someone we have hurt or who has hurt us, we have to actually spend a whole lot more time on ourselves, on our actions and on our very often, lack of self-awareness of the hurtful actions we commit. In so doing, we must work on learning to own the hurt we have caused unintentionally that can then lead to giving others the benefit of the doubt that this is a struggle for them as well. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. It takes two to tango. This is a two way street. Well, you get the picture…

After concluding last week’s Valentine’s Day commercials and sales, I think its quite important to look seriously at the calorie count and ingredients of those chocolate declarations of love. We so enjoy consuming their chocolaty richness but we are rarely prepared to discover what Forrest Gump really meant by his proverbial teaching. As blogger Erin Jackson wrote in her article, “Russell Stover vs Whitman’s: Which $5 Box of Valentine’s Day Chocolate Reigns Supreme?”

“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know when you’re going to hit the nasty fruit-filled truffle that everyone spits out in horror.”
Every bite of chocolate doesn’t necessarily yield the fantasies of wholeness, sincerity and concern that we hope for. But we must keep in mind that those bites offered to us by our loved ones, are rarely given to us with the hope that we will be horrified. No, more often than not, the sour, bitter or overwhelmingly sugary sweet bites are offered to us rather accidentally or at least with a lot less malice than we imagine.

Cuz here’s the thing – people who cause us pain are often in pain and people who cause us a lot of pain are often in a lot of pain. Some of you may be reading this or the above and saying to yourself, “But Rabbi Scott, you don’t know my family!” But alas I do. At the end of the day, none of us are really all that complicated. Most every family on the planet is made up of similar ingredients: Milk, Cocoa Powder, Butter, Water, Flour and Sugar.  You just never know what you’re gonna get.  So we must choose wisely and forgive mightily.

Wed, November 25 2020 9 Kislev 5781