Monday, November 1, 2010

Bad Things Could Happen

This is going to be one of those blog posts where I have no clear answers. In this case, I see the two sides of the story, and agree with both of them.  Maybe that's usually the case with me.  I'm often in the middle.

Anyway, a bad thing happened to a guy in Perth.  Some Australians decided to observe Halloween by egging a guy's car.  The man had just washed his car, and became very angry.  He drove after the ones who had damaged his property. Then he had a heart attack, and crashed his car.

A neighbor blames this on Halloween.  She says, It's an American thing....I don't believe we should have it here in Western Australia, I don't like it, it's dangerous, you can't trust anyone. I don't think they should have Halloween here in Perth.

Yes, because everything dangerous and scary in America is due to us celebrating Halloween. And if Australia refrains from the Halloween stuff, they'll have a safe and decent country.

Anyway, that's not what I want to talk about. Fun topic, though, but we'll save it for another day.

I WILL say that in America these days, Halloween is less about pulling pranks and more about corporate greed. It's an opportunity for candy companies to sell more of their product.  Despite this truth, it's still usually fun.  It's fun to dress up and play around in the world of zombies, witches, ghosts, cereal killers, etc.  I'm not trying to push Halloween on Australians.  I know for a fact that you guys find other opportunities to dress up. We saw that when we visited around Christmas time....lots of people in costumes.

Crap, I'm going off topic again.

What I want to talk about is how our actions can affect others.

It sounds simple and fun to egg someone's car. Ha ha. But what if they just washed their car? What if they're abusive, and they'll take their anger towards you out on their children?  What if they have a health condition?  What if they're mentally unstable?  What if their dog just died, and this is the worst night for you to pull a prank on them?

In America, we've had teens commit suicide because someone bullied them. Do bullies consider these things before running their mouths?  I thought about them the other day.  How do they feel knowing that their actions caused someone to commit suicide?  Do they even care?  Do they feel guilty? Do they make excuses for their behavior. Hey, I wasn't that mean.  Really.  He was too sensitive.   Someone else would have pushed him over the edge if it weren't for me.

I was shocked when some female bloggers were cruel to me; and I was shocked by the cruel commenters of some of our bystanders. They called me viscous names. They encouraged me to harm myself.  They said something like, My roommate is reading what you wrote and laughing hysterically at the fact that someone like you is a mother. 

I thought....if you really think I'm not mentally capable of mothering a child, don't you think you should back off and not throw me over the edge?  What if I WAS as pathetic as you say, shouldn't you have sympathy rather than hatred?

Fortunately, I am a fairly sane and stable person.  And I'm a fairly decent mother.   The worse that happened to me is I had trouble sleeping and eating for a few days. But what if I wasn't so stable?   What if I slit my wrists or rushed to hang myself? What if I lost my temper and hit my child?  What if I got a gun and went on a rampage?

Did the female bloggers ever consider these things? Did they ever worry about the possible consequences of their actions?

I don't know.

That's one side of the issue.

The other side? Well, where do we draw the line?  Do we have to be perfect angels to everyone because they might get upset and do crazy things?

I'm NOT always nice.  I wish I was. But I lose my patience. I get angry. I try hard to be civil in my anger. I'll give myself credit for that.  I usually don't name call. That's one thing. And I'm usually willing to extend or accept an olive branch.    

But okay.  I do sometimes write these very pointed I-need-to-get-this-off-my-chest-and-I'm-going-to-be-brutally-honest-right-now emails. I can't say I regret all of these, because sometimes I think they bring positive changes in my relationship with people. I think SOMETIMES things need to be said.

I do hate writing them, though. I hate the idea of hurting someone. I worry that my email will hurt them too much; that I'll drive someone over the edge.

Sometimes I end up taking the other route. Instead of being honest, I take the route of backing away from a person—emotionally distancing myself.  It's easier to do that.  It feels safer. It's less scary.   I don't have to spend hours dealing with insomnia, dreading their response.

Despite what some people think, I don't like interpersonal drama. It's scary. It makes your hair turn gray.  But I guess sometimes it's needed.  Sometimes we need drama to change crap that's going on in our lives.   

We can't be nice all the time, but we can be nice MOST of the time.  And when we're mean, we can try to be tame. We can try to consider what the person has to deal with elsewhere. We can attack but keep our claws retracted as much as possible.

What about pranks then? Should we never do them?  How about nice pranks? What if we have a surprise party, and it gives the person-of-honor a heart attack?

My parents sometimes mention the whole eggshell thing.  Does Australia have that saying?  We feel like we're walking on eggshells around you.  People want the freedom to act without worrying that they're going to accidentally say/do the wrong thing and destroy you. It's a reasonable thing to want.  So no.   I don't think we should have to feel like we're walking on eggshells.   We shouldn't have to excessively worry that we'll say the wrong thing and cause someone to become a mass murderer or suicide victim.  But we also don't need to STOMP on the eggshells. We can try to be at least a little careful.   We can try to think before we act.  Is it really a good idea to throw eggs at someone's car?   Is it a good idea to find photos of a teenager's death scene and email it to her parents?  Is it a good idea to write fake Valentines letters so you can trick someone into thinking they're finally loved?  Is it a good idea to stand outside a funeral and yell cruel things about hell and homosexuality?

Is it a good idea to stop ALL jokes and pranks, and all verbal spankings?  No. Sometimes people need to be scolded. Some jokes are harmless and fun.  We can't stop these things because we're scared of the small chance that someone might take things worse than we want them to.

As for the Egg Men in Perth, throwing eggs at a car is NOT harmless. It can cause considerable paint damage, and not everyone has money lying around to fix such things.   However, I'm going to give the Egg Men the benefit of the doubt and assume they did NOT want to cause a man to have a heart attack.  If they were hoping for that to happen, and/or they feel no guilt and remorse that it did happen.....well, that is REALLY sad.