Filed Under (rural life, rural living) by admin on 27-03-2008

I encourage my children: when someone insists on treating you irrationally, walk away. I walked away from schoolyard playground bullies decades ago… at least some of them left the playground: they keep turning up in other places.

The City Slipper column (back issues appear at: www.cityslipper.com/archives) is about the differences between urban and rural life. This blog is about the day-to-day of country living, the point being to get us better acquainted. So, while I’m usually reporting on the minutiae of my family’s world, occasionally I’ll digress into experiences that have shaped my relationship with creation. When I want to share something that goes far afield from the day-to-day, I’ll throw that onto the More Reading page. But that’s not today’s topic. Here it is:

I recently crossed paths with a man who put me in touch with a question I’ve been trying to outgrow since childhood: Am I on the wrong planet?

I tend to consider my words and actions carefully before loosing them on the world; I prefer not to offend people without cause. If I would be offended by someone doing or saying something to me, then I’m certainly not going to say or do that thing to someone else. Conversely, if I would take no offense from an act directed at me, I figure it’s pretty safe to commit the act toward others.

So, I did something in a social situation that, had anyone else done it, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought; it was entirely harmless. However, this man I mentioned (with whom I’d interacted casually over the course of several months) was very upset by my commission. His reaction was so over the top that I thought at first he must be joking; it quickly became clear he wasn’t.

But that wasn’t the most troubling issue. What puzzled me is that this older adult started calling me names. Realizing I had offended him, I apologized and explained that I had had no idea what about my actions had been so troubling to him. I asked several times for some clarification, and I apologized a second time. His only response was to be derisive and to continue calling me names.

I was back in the schoolyard playground where bullies irrationally abuse people who simply want to get along. The same playground where I first asked that question: Am I on the wrong planet?

I want to live on a planet where, when adults make innocent mistakes, other adults forgive. Where, when someone offends me, I can help them to understand why I was offended… and then move on. I want to live on a planet where people put in more energy trying to get along with each other than they do being spiteful and unpleasant.

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