Your Attitude Sucks
I live in one of the 25 largest cities in the U.S., and like any big city we have our share of crime. Recently, a particularly heinous act was taken by a young man against an innocent woman. She was murdered. While I believe all crime, particularly violent crime is bad, incidents like this one especially anger me.
I had been following the story on a local newspaper's online site. I usually read the comments posted on the stories, sometimes even responding myself. As you can imagine, if you've ever read comments on a news site, the anonymity of it tends to bring out a lot of rancor and vile comments from people. There were the usual comments of this sort calling for the young man's execution since, as I said before, this particular crime was especially grisly. As I read through some of them, I came upon one commenter who respectfully asked everyone to withhold their judgment and allow the courts of law and the “court of God” to assign guilt and penalty. This commenter (whom I assumed to be female) said that they loved the young man very much and wanted the chance to, herself, ask them why they did such a thing. Even though she expressed that she was angry at this person's actions, she showed no anger in her comments to the others. This, even though some of these comments by others on the site were foul and in a couple of cases thinly-veiled racism.
I allowed myself to be taken in by some of the anger, and I asked this person who expressed deep love for the accused if her attitude would be any different if the accused killer were a stranger and the person who was killed was their family member or loved one. I did not expect the reply I received.
This poster on a newspaper comment thread explained to me that she is a person of faith and due to that she loves everyone. Consequently, she would perhaps feel worse for the accused if he were not known to her and had happened to kill her own loved one. She again expressed that these actions hurt and angered her because of her relationship to this person, and that he made a poor choice which will cost him. She went on to explain that regardless of whether it is a stranger or not that person is “someone's someone” and they still have family and others who love them. She insisted that he will need to face what is coming to him, and that is right. Her next statement hit me like a ton of bricks and caught me completely off guard. She said, “everyone of these people deserves your prayers. Pray for us as we lost the battle along the way too.”
I pondered what she said for a moment, and before I even realized what was happening, I was crying. I don't even know why because I still feel that this individual should be punished, but in that moment and at this writing I also understand that the family is being punished as well. I was deeply moved by how someone could turn natural anger at something so despicable into pure love. She expressed to another how faith, hope, and love are all we have in these situations and that “love is the greatest of all: It cannot fail.” As I was reading these words with tears streaming down my cheeks, I was thoroughly reminded that there will be no winners here, even after justice is served...only broken homes and families.
Sometimes life's most powerful lessons are taught in the most unlikely ways. I had started reading those comments with a shred of intent to jump into the fray and show how angry I was along with everyone else. Quickly, and without my consent, a person like me who almost never cries, even when faced with big emotional events, was reduced to a blubbering baby as I tried to take it all in. The pain and suffering of that faceless individual on the other side of the computer screen came through to me and I empathized with them.
I woke up today with a renewed self-mandate to redirect toxic emotions into positive endeavors. Hug and kiss my wife, show the dogs I appreciate their companionship, pick up the phone and call my friends, donate my time to those less fortunate. Step back from yourself and the routine of life occasionally and think about what is your contribution? How can you turn your anger, fear or intolerance into something that makes the world a better place to live in for just another minute?