Monday, May 18, 2015

Who gives us the right to be annoyed? (Part 2)


In my previous post I shared about how we grant ourselves the right to become annoyed. No one else does it for us. The so-called righteous anger that accompanies it has become so hopelessly embedded in our culture that hardly anyone questions it. No one appreciates either their own or others' upsetness. It is just accepted as part of the 'to err is human' school of thinking.  We don't even believe that it's possible to change what is really just a  deeply ingrained habit.
If we see movie we automatically expect the bad guy to lose, to be killed or hurt. If we see someone being unjustly treated we silently wish that they get their own back. We internally celebrate the defeat of our enemies while mouthing words of commiseration. If we go into the depth of this type of behavior we see how shallow it really is. There are generally so many factors, past, present and future that contribute to any situation. A superficial reading will not reveal the deeper truths surrounding the apparent facts. Understanding them would help us to respond more calmly.
There was a story circulating several years ago about a father and his three young children on a suburban train in Long Island, New York. He was slumped in his seat, totally unaware that his kids were running up and down the aisle creating all sorts of mischief. As people were on their way home from a long day's work, they just wanted some peace and quiet to either sleep or read.
The first signs of annoyance appeared in the murmur of negative comments amongst the passengers. Gradually, a few elevated their tone of voice: "Can't you do something to control these kids?" Neither the father nor the children paid any attention. They started playing up even more as they charged around the carriage.
Finally the woman behind him tapped irately on the back of his seat with her umbrella. "Sir, please do something about your *#*# kids.  Can't you see we don't want to be disturbed?"
He turned around dolefully and replied, "I'm really sorry, ma'am. We have just come from the hospital. My wife died this afternoon. I'm a bit lost and don't know what to do."
The woman then announced to the other passengers what had happened. Immediately they gathered up the kids and started playing with them.
In some similar way, there are probably extenuating circumstances around many of the things that upset us. The problem is we can't see others' needs, only our own.
Indignation is just ego with a halo. It pretends to be everything, but  delivers nothing.