“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”-Plato
It has been an interesting couple of weeks in southeastern Wisconsin and throughout neighboring states as we face record flooding. Despite the sandbags, many dreams cannot be saved and residents watch helplessly as homes of friends, neighbors, and town residents are ruined by rain-some washed away completely. Towns are under water. Roads are not drivable. Shelters are open. The regular routines of a month ago have been replaced by questions, disbelief, sadness and fear.
I live on a hill so I have been lucky so far. Our only damage has been a half-dozen trees, eight fifteen to thirty-feet, that have fallen; one on our septic and one on our barn. My assistant who lives about five miles away is watching carefully. The home two houses down is submerged in six feet of water. The town he lives in is closed and he cannot make the short drive to my home or the office. More rain is forecasted and the flood warning is in effect through next Thursday. F.E.M.A. officials came Thursday and were unable to leave when more tornadoes surface and the airport closed.
In the midst of chaos everyone tries to function as normally as possible. The other day I signed on to customer service. Accessing the internet has not been easy via satellite connection. There were several tickets I had not been able to answer in our goal of one business day. What amazed me were the insults I received from several people since they had not heard back in 24 hours. One threatened to contact a lawyer; another the Better Business Bureau. The emails were harsh as if they assumed I must be at a salon or golfing versus addressing their concerns.
While I can understand being frustrated by lack of response within a posted time, I cannot understand the need to assume the worst and go into battle mode. This concept ties into one of my favorite Good Mornings.
I once listened to a speaker who shared a story I will never forget. He was at a restaurant working on a speech. He had hoped to have some quiet time to reflect and prepare. Shortly after he arrived, a family was seated about three tables away. The children were behaving badly. They were stomping forks and knives on the table, pulling at each other, and making a general ruckus. The speaker couldn’t understand how this father could let his children behave like that…or why he would take such misbehaving children out in public.
He tried to be patient, but after twenty minutes of the noise, he asked his waitress to ask the family to quiet down if possible. The father then stood up and walked over to the speaker. The next words changed the speaker’s outlook forever.
“I am sorry, sir,” he said in a kind, sincere, and sad voice. “The children just lost their mother two days ago, and I just haven’t been able to get them to settle down since. I thought getting a good meal in them would help.” He and the speaker went on to exchange a few lines and parted on good terms. Of course, the speaker wasn’t “wrong” for wanting his private time to prepare and reflect. Nor was the father “wrong” for taking his children out for a meal. But, we often think in terms of “right and wrong,” when in reality every story has different angles-sometimes many different angles. Looking at these angles is great exercise for the mind.
Your Turn: We all have habitual tendencies which allow us to believe something about a given situation, whether it is right or not. Try to stop worrying about right and wrong. Instead, exercise your mind and come up with as many reasons for different situations as you can-explore all the angles.
Today’s Affirmation:I do not concern myself with right and wrong. I do concern myself with understanding.