Monday, January 30, 2012

It isn't funny when the other person isn't laughing...

Cruel to Be Kind?
Only in an 80s song...

Recently, I saw a side of myself I am sure most of us have seen, but it made me pause and take a closer look at who I am and who I want to be.

I found myself being incredibly critical of someone. I wasn't just mocking. I was being cruel. Not to her face of course, but behind her back. Whispering words like "skanky" and other equally degrading things. *sigh* I don't even like writing about it, but I did it - I said it. And I laughed about it.

Until I got home. Then I thought about it. And I wondered, where did the desire to be so harsh and critical about this woman come from?

Clearly I learned some of it growing up. When you are judged so harshly, and bullied at times, you become harsh yourself. I also think it is a form of self protection. I think being cruel comes from a sense of anger, I think it is a way to temporarily make myself feel better. I also think it comes from a pattern in my own life of being extremely critical about myself. I have spent way too many hours to count being harsh about myself - my appearance, my intelligence... Being mean to someone else is just an extension of being mean to myself. Instead of focusing the anger inward, it is much easier to focus it on someone else. But the way I felt after that initial deflection wasn't healthy or productive.

I thought about how I would feel if I had to face the woman and tell her to her face what I had whispered about her behind her back. I would have been ashamed. Humiliated even. Humbled. The worst part? This woman has been nothing but kind to me. Yes, she has a colorful past, but (if you believe such things) it's God's job to 'chat' about that with her, not mine. I have my own life to chat with God about; I should focus on that and not anyone else's life.

I have worked with people who have been cruel at times in the name of "funny". I have had friends in the past that have been cruel in the name of "funny". And I, myself, have been 'cruel' in the past in the name of "funny". And really? It isn't funny. It's mean.

I suppose it is the same reason I never found those 'gotcha' tv shows entertaining. Laughing at another person's humiliation to me isn't funny. I had a student today tell another student who was teasing her, "If I am not laughing? It isn't funny." I agree with her, but I'd take it a step further. If the other person isn't laughing? It isn't funny, it's bullying.

I've been told, when I talk about not liking shows like "Candid Camera" that I am being 'too sensitive' and that I am 'over reacting'. I learned about a new term recently. It's called  'gaslighting' and if you haven't read this article? It's enlightening. This article is also eye opening.

I realized that, for me, walking in a state of grace means walking in such a way that when the day comes that I have to stand in the presence of Divinity, I can look at my life and know I did the best I could to be kind in the face of cruelty. I know what it is to be mocked and derided. I want to live my life in integrity and in the process of being kinder to others, I am learning to be kinder to myself.