Looking in the mirror and seeing warts

I’m a member of a forum that discusses local issues.  I’m an active member; I talk a lot about a lot of things.  Today someone posted something which was not only kind of stupid, it was clearly:  I’m-not-racist-I’m-just-pointing-out-that-these-people-were-______ (fill in with race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religion of your choice) and I called him on it.  Not in so many words, but rather I asked first what the exact nature of the problem was since he was quite vague about it, and second why he felt it was necessary to tell us the race of the people involved.  As I expected, he responded with hostility, but accused me of being hostile.  I pointed out that I had made no value judgment, I was simply asking for information, but since he brought up the subject I said bluntly that I disliked it when people cited  one of those aforementioned facts for no discernible reason.  Several other people took him on as well.  He has not responded.

Where are the warts? you ask.  Well, I’ll tell you: I’m disappointed that he didn’t respond.  Not overtly, not to the point where I’d pursue the issue without his participation, but in some hidden little part of my twisted soul I wanted a good fight tonight in which I knew I had the moral high ground.  See, it rained for much of the day and because of that I hurt.  My joints are achy and I have a sinus headache.  I want to punch someone, if only verbally.  It’s an ugly trait and I don’t like it in myself, but it exists, and I have to deal with it.

Unfortunately now I feel restless and dissatisfied, which means I have to go to bed with an a one-sided argument running through my head.  My devastating retorts remain unwritten, my disdain remains unexpressed.  Maybe I am hostile after all. Maybe he sensed that under what really was a perfectly reasonable request for more information I was expressing anger and trying to provoke him.  Part of me is embarrassed, part is glad.

And part of me wonders if I did more harm than good, or vice versa.  I’m not going to examine too closely all my motivations; it might make my headache worse.  But I have to wonder if you do the right thing for the wrong reasons, is it still right?  If you do it for mixed reasons — wrong and right — can you still think of yourself as a decent person?

I need aspirin and a good night’s sleep.

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2 thoughts on “Looking in the mirror and seeing warts

  1. Well, I know your pain. Man, do I know your pain. But I will offer this-if our “less than” moments hover around the 10-15% mark, in my world, my “decent person” status is intact, with the codicil-‘will occasionally not be perfect’. If the needle inches upwards, I sit up and notice, and stop, and so do you. So do most people. Let’s face it-most of us are NOT HH Dalai Lama. What a world it would be if we were, but there you are-not.

    Hope when you wake your headache is better, your joints ache less, and your perspective is firmly in place. Although I know this idea is no stranger to your brain pan, it just arrived in my inbox in email form, so I leave you with this- a quote from Garchen Rinposte, predictably a Tibetan monk who was imprisoned for years by the Chinese:
    To me in this world there are only two types of beings: my benefactors of love and my benefactors of patience. The majority are my benefactors of love; they are very kind and help me. Some try to cause harm and create obstacles; these are my benefactors of patience. The kindness of each benefactor is equal, and thus my love for them is equal. Maybe my
    benefactors of patience are even more kind to me, as they allow me to practice the perfection of patience. I am thus very grateful to all those who do not like me and make me tame my anger. At the same time I feel great compassion for their sorrow, but as they allow me to practice patience and my anger and jealousy to gradually diminish, they are my teachers. Thus, in
    the end, when I attain enlightenment and all my anger and jealousy are no more, it is due to their kindness. For this reason I love them greatly.

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  2. Wow, that is a lot to consider, isn’t it? Thanks for the perspective, sweetie. Yes, everything hurts less today and I’m actually grateful the guy bowed out of the argument — though had it been me, I’d have left as soon as someone asked why I didn’t go help the old lady or call 911 if it was an obvious problem. I’ll just hope my less-than moments stay at a reasonable level. I just don’t want to think about what sort of horror I’ll be as an old woman with swollen, arthritic joints. But of course that’s the point where you can just put me in a chair on a porch someplace and hand me a cane. I’ll be happy to shout and wave that cane at anyone who walks by.

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