Thursday, August 06, 2009

It is best to get over those ancient grudges

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Editorial Page

There's an excellent quote by Nelson Mandela that says, "Resentment is like drinking a glass of poison and waiting for your enemies to die."

Like everyone else, I've been bitter toward people and have refused to forgive them for things they've done. I've also been on the opposite end of the equation and have been refused forgiveness for things I've done and apologized for. Either way, it hurts.

In all families, there are resentments and pain that occur. Some families are destroyed, while others forgive and move on. In others, a group goes forward in forgiveness while the "Lone Ranger" (as I'll call them) is stuck in resentment and anger seemingly forever. What a shame.

I won't go into the details for the sake of privacy, however there are examples of just that on both sides of my family -- my mother's extended family and my father's as well. Both incidents have resulted in years of anger and bitterness that have seethed and boiled over into what has become long-term estrangement and silence.

The fact is, the only two people who are still angry are the individuals who are bitter. Everyone else gets along. Everyone enjoys each other's company. Everyone has gotten over "it" (completely different events for either side of the family). I'm not saying that people didn't deserve to be hurt... but after 10 and 20 years, it's time to move on.

No one is getting any younger. Funerals are becoming an annual occurrence. It's time to forgive and forget. The last I heard, there are no awards for bitterness in heaven. I just hope these reconciliations happen before it's too late. But after many efforts, people have just given up. Literally, the next time some family members will see each other is when they're staring down into the other's coffin. That would be sad. Very sad.

Pride is a hard pill to swallow. I've been there. Sometimes, you just have to be the one to make that telephone call or knock on the door.

To be honest, there is someone with whom I worked 15 years ago who I'd slap across the face rather than speak to again. This person was the meanest, most vindictive person I'd ever met. Perhaps she's changed since then. For her sake, I hope so. It can't be that much fun making other people's lives miserable, but she sure seemed to enjoy it. Some people do crosswords for fun. Some knit. Well, for fun, she was evil!

It would be interesting to have a conversation with her now. I wonder if she's changed? I wonder if she's mellowed out? I wonder if she'd pose for a photo that I can attach to my new dart board?

The reality is that this old work colleague is not a part of my life and never will be again. Whether she feels bad about our previous time working together or not, I really don't care. I haven't seen her since and probably never will again. Besides, they say vampires only come out at night and I'm normally a homebody in the evenings, so my chances of running into her while she's feeding on the young and innocent is pretty low.

Not that I'm bitter. But hey, she's not family.

As for my family, however, I hope that one day these reconciliations happen. The bitterness is all kind of pointless, you know. It's too bad, because -- like most feuds -- 99 per cent of those involved forgave and forgot long ago. Most, quite frankly, can't even remember or don't even know what happened in the first place.

Years ago, I stupidly took sides in the break-up of the marriage of friends of mine. It was just awful, involving mutual friends having affairs with others. To complicate things even more, we were all involved closely in much-loved volunteer work.

Months later, partially because I'd decided that I was going to be the moral authority in all this mess, friendships were destroyed, along with marriages and working relationships. I wasn't one of the people involved amorously, but was the "Tsk! Tsk!" friend pointing fingers like some old neighbourhood busybody who couldn't keep their mouth shut. My involvement only served to pour gasoline on an already raging fire.

Ironically, for what seemed so important at the time, I haven't spoken to any of them since. The great friends I defended? Well, those friendships that I thought would last forever ended. From what I understand, the couple who got together in all this are still together and quite happy 15 years later. They were meant to be!

I was naturally inclined to jump in and play the role of morality police in this love triangle. Since then, though, I've become a lot more compassionate. If a marriage isn't meant to be, it just isn't. There's no need forcing the issue after all efforts to fix things haven't worked -- or after trust has been eroded to the point where efforts are pointless.

I don't know what I'd say if I saw anyone involved in this melee from 15 years ago. I know that I'd sincerely apologize and tell them that I should have just sewn my big mouth shut. That's for certain! I said things I regret and that were inappropriate. But I know one thing, I don't think I've repeated that mistake since. If you want to break up, go right ahead. I'm here to support, not to judge. This is one boy who isn't taking sides!

As for my own family, I don't know if my relatives will ever reconcile with the ones they're so angry with, but I know a certain vampire who deserves their ire if they're ever looking for another target that's much more deserving.

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