Whose job is it to make you a good person? Are you one of those folks that stereotypes people? Do you usually do the right thing? Whose job is it to tell you to forgive and forget? Do we look to others for this? Do we depend on Judge Judy to do this or Dr. Phil or perhaps the person you sleep with at night? My opinion is and I believe it with all my heart, that responsibility lies with one person and only one person…YOU!
It just seems to me that in situation after situation when we mess up that we blame it on everyone but the person with whom the blame really lies, ourselves. Many times life can be very difficult. It is definitely not always filled with cupcakes and cartwheels. Inevitably we all stumble across pain and suffering in our lives, whether it is through the economy, our health, our relationships or simple human stupidity, but no one is immune from suffering. Now, it is one’s choice how long you allow yourself to be miserable or go without forgiving.
This week I was on a plane returning from Los Angeles. There were two gentlemen sitting behind me discussing the pitfalls of having to go on a business trip to Memphis, Tennessee. Their dialogue was so off base that it was all I could do to contain myself from turning around and saying, “You and You are idiots.” I was experiencing up close and personal human stupidity right in front of my eyes. Well, actually right behind my back. These two Einsteins had it all figured out. In their ever so “shallow” minds, they categorized not just people from Memphis but southerners in general as and I quote, “hicks.” Who even uses that word anymore? They were obviously completely out of touch with reality. If you listened to these two you would have thought Southerners still climbed a telephone pole to answer the phone every time it rang like on Green Acres!
I consider myself a well-traveled individual. I am in two or three different cities every few weeks. Last week I was in Los Angeles, Dallas and Atlanta. This week: Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Nashville, Tennessee and Oxford, Mississippi. Point is, that over the past two years, since the release of The BlindSide, I have traveled to the four corners of this country and beyond our borders, and let me tell you I have encountered every type of redneck, hick and classless person you can imagine in every place I have been. So it certainly is not just a southern thing. Yes, life in the South may be a tad slower, and we might enjoy the outdoors a bit more, and we are usually very outgoing, polite and well-mannered, but that doesn’t mean we don’t wear shoes or have indoor plumbing.
So, I found myself wanting to do bodily harm to these two gentlemen behind me. However, here comes the “do the right thing” speech that I am constantly doling out to others. The forgive and forget lecture. The be a good person and turn the other cheek blah blah blah….However, I was not very happy and my thoughts were anything but about being kind. Yet, I and only I, would be responsible for the actions I was contemplating at that moment. I would be held accountable for any and all actions that took place. It takes years and years and years to develop your character and your good name and in a split second was I going to let these two simple-minded men behind me ruin that? Spitting on them would not be extremely classy nor would smashing their mouths all over their faces, result in anything good, as my grandmother used to tell me. So why not try and just forgive them for being ignorant?
I was taking deep breaths through my nose, like a bull staring into a red cape. These two had no idea how close to harm they were. When one spewed a line that went something like, “I imagine sophistication went out with the yellow fever epidemic,” that almost caused me to go over the seat. Of course, these feelings are not new to me nor my family. When you have an African American child, you are used to being open game for people’s opinions, judgements, and ridiculous comments, but this was not just directed at my five family members this was directed at an entire section of our country. Oh, they said Memphis, but it could have been Birmingham, Nashville, or any other southern city. So these two wise ones needed to learn not to talk about things that they knew nothing about as well as not say things that are hurtful and insensitive. I could only imagine what they said behind closed doors if this was their airplane conversation.
I took several deep cleansing breaths and decided they were not worth wasting my time on, and that my energy would be better served on something that was productive and uplifting. It was up to me to take the required thirty second cooling off timeout, and it was up to me to make a good choice. There are so many great people who would still be with us today if they had made responsible choices and looked in the mirror and said, “I need to do the right thing.”
We have to learn to let go and move in a forward direction. Forgiving will not take away the memory or really the pain but without it, things tend to get worse. We become bitter and callous. So the next time someone is getting more attention than you or they have a nicer cell phone or the better car or your good friend throws you under the bus or you get blamed for something you didn’t do…remember only you are responsible for your actions. Let’s use our energy to fight the real injustices in this world. Let’s be loud and proud for those who are being bullied and treated poorly. Let’s try to find a home for every foster child and a bed for every baby. Don’t let your emotions cause you to do foolish things. Use those emotions for the good- make a change that is so badly needed in our society. If we all collectively use our enthusiasm and energy to do the right thing and we take responsibility for our actions, we will see difficulties disappear, obstacles vanish, and change will be just beyond the horizon!
Photo credit by: atomicShed
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