Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Days Thirty Five & Thirty Six

Rule 35
“In this world, it is not similarities or regularities that take us a step forward, but blunt opposites. And all the opposites in the universe are present within each and every one of us. Therefore the believer needs to meet the unbeliever residing within. And the nonbeliever should get to know the silent faithful in him. Until the day one reaches the stage of Al-Insan aI-Kamil, the perfect human being, faith is a gradual process and one that necessitates its seeming opposite: disbelief.”

A friend posted an image, a quote by Louis CK. He says, "When a person tells you that you hurt them, you don't get to decide that you didn't."

It struck me, because I had just had this conversation with my girls earlier yesterday. The little one wailed dramatically to the older one, "You hurt my feelings!", to which the older one flatly said, "No, I didn't". I had to stop the older one right there. "You can't say that. They are her feelings. If she says you hurt her feelings, then you hurt her feelings. Now say sorry." 

I'm not sure the meaning of what I was telling her actually sunk in, but this is one lesson I wish all mothers had taught their children, because there are plenty of adults who walk around as living proof that their mamas did not tell them not to be complete jerks to others. 

The quote is interesting enough, but the comments underneath it are equally good. One person said it is simple to apologize. To which another person said, even if you don't want to apologize, "don't you DARE invalidate the other person's feelings". 

You have a right to live your life, do what you like as you see fit. You have a right to think you are right no matter what you do. You, quite unfortunately, have a right to be a complete bum wipe and feel entitled to be so. You also have the right to not apologize. But like it or not, you do not have the right to decide that you did not hurt someone else's feelings. Sometimes we get even more defensive when we hurt someone's feelings inadvertently. We feel a bit self-righteous, because that was "not my intention". Still, you hurt that person. So, even if you think you're right, you have to accept that it hurt their feelings. And if you hate this situation, here's a little tip for the future: be considerate towards others. Yes, it's that simple. 

Today's rule is, to me, about acceptance once more. We need to understand all the different colors, the ones diametrically opposed to our own, before we can begin to understand ourselves and our place in the world. As for faith, if you don't question your faith, how do you know you truly believe in it? My years in school in Senegal, being put in a situation where I had to regularly stand up for my faith meant that I also had many days of questioning my faith and any other faith altogether. Those questions helped me define what I believe today, and if I have any faith, no matter what shape or form it takes or how unconventional it is, if it's there it's because it's been through several burning rings of fire. 

Rules 35 and 36 get one post, because you can't talk about one without the other. Again, you have the right to be a complete jerk, that's just the way the world works. That said, here's some food for thought...

Rule 36
“This world is erected upon the principle of reciprocity. Neither a drop of kindness nor a speck of evil will remain unreciprocated. For not the plots, deceptions, or tricks of other people. If somebody is setting a trap, remember, so is God. He is the biggest plotter. Not even a leaf stirs outside God’s knowledge. Simply and fully believe in that. Whatever God does, He does it beautifully.”

Oh snap. 

Karma is not a "new age" concept. It's not some frou-frou hippie nonsense. No, far from it. Without getting into specifics, I will only say this - I've seen karma at play. From small to big things, I've seen it work too well to deny it. Something as small as knocking a car and driving off will come back to you later on. Everything has to balance out eventually, and you will have to pay the piper, too.

So, if you discredit the feelings of others, if you make someone feel bad, if you try to disempower them by refusing to hear what they have to say, if you cheat them out of their due, if you hurt someone, let me just say it again in case Shams didn't get the message across... It WILL come back to bite you in the butt. 

For those of us who deal with wee ones, let's first try the approach that hurting others is wrong before resorting to karma right away. I think it's important children understand the difference between doing something nice for the sake of it vs. out of fear or for rewards. 

But as for the adults who never learned this lesson: look, we all have a responsibility towards each other, and don't think you can take it lightly or absolve yourself. 

Be proactive. Help out. Listen. Care. Be empathetic. Be considerate. Just be nice. I mean, how hard is it?

And if none of those is genetically programmed in you, then do the world a favor, will ya, and do it because you're selfish and don't want karma to give you a backhanded slap in the face.