Lessons from Hostility
The recent negative post on a story I wrote about Mom and the wonderfully supportive Open Group for Bedlam Farm response to it really made me reflect on hostility and its impact on our lives. There are so many hurting and angry people on the Internet. I can’t change them, but hopefully I can have my own plan of attack- so to speak.
I was shocked by the negative post- or at least the thought of it, as the comment was removed and dealt with before I even got onto the computer to see what had been written. I have bared my soul on the OGBF, have shared my mother and her stories, as I have felt completely safe here. I really feel that my writing has improved during the time I have been a member of our group thanks to the atmosphere of safety and encouragement. I guess no place on the Internet is completely safe, and so I am especially thankful to be part of a group that so staunchly defends the rule of no anger or hostility. Anger and hostility are poison to the creative spirit.
I never dealt with hostility and anger well in the past. As a small child, I did everything I could do to avoid censure. I was the perfect child (or as perfect as a goofy kid can be). I ended up marrying someone with anger issues, and I found myself making every effort to keep the peace for fifteen years. I gave in, capitulated, became something I was not. Instead of dealing with the frustrations, I held everything inside…never a healthy thing to do on a long-term basis. I paid for it dearly.
I have witnessed cruelty in other areas of my life- I saw how my father treated my mother, heard about he he treated my siblings. I have seen students harass other students for being different, have had my heart broken by someone I loved. There is the capacity in each of us to be hostile, cruel…but also the capacity for great kindness and empathy towards others. It is our choice to make.
There will always be those out there who seem to be hard-wired towards anger and hostility. I will never understand it- I can’t bear to think I’ve hurt anyone’s feelings. But, those people are there, so I need to know how I will react when confronted by someone with an axe to grind.
I try my best to not let anyone steal my peace, my center. I’m far from perfect, and I’m not always successful…but I try. If I don’t engage them, I don’t fuel their anger- which most likely has nothing to do with me, but most likely is all about them. I choose to live my life in the most positive way that I can. I don’t argue with people- my husband and I always tell people we are lovers, not fighters. Some might think it is weak to not stand up against conflict, but I see it as a show of strength, wisdom.
If I give in and engage with someone who is hostile, no one wins, and I would be left feeling violated. At this point in my life, I am looking for peace. I do my best to reflect love when confronted with hatefulness. It is amazing to see how disarming it is to an angry person when you reflect kindness in the face of their negativity. It doesn’t always work, but I bet you it at least makes them think.
The time when I have difficulty with my method is when someone I care about is the victim of hostility. This hit home just yesterday, when Mom told me she had someone be cruel to her at Princeton Towers- a resident, working in the little shop where Mom goes for her Moo Bars and other small items. Mom said she has always tried to be friendly with the woman, but that the woman is increasingly unpleasant to her. Mom was hurt, but is handling it well. I, on the other hand, wanted to rip the woman’s head off for hurting my ninety-two year old mother. I calmed down, and ended up having a good talk with Mom about taking the high road. It is always the best way.
I want to make the world a better place, even if it is only my own little corner. I believe in those ripples, though…those ripples that each of us in the OGBF are stirring that are spreading light and love out into the world. By coming together, we can do amazing things. We already are.