Monday, August 22, 2005

It's a usual occurrence and not one that is out of the ordinary. When you have an almost eight-year-old son and almost two-year-old triplets, there's bound to be some relationship issues. In particular, an older brother who is continually learning the difference between playing and teasing. And when the playing quickly turns to teasing, it's my responsibility to help him understand the difference.

And in a most recent exchange with my son Leo on this difference, I said to him, "It's easier to be mean and to tease someone than it is to be nice to someone." I'm not sure it sunk into Leo's head, but the comment has made me think about general human behavior and my own personal behavior.

How quickly it seems we are to jump an opportunity to believe the ill of another; to accept the negative gossip about another human being. Sometimes that ill and negative gossip turns out to be true and more of the time, we choose not to substantiate any of the allegations (which turn out to be false) and use the information to simply further fortify our opinion of those individuals. The greater question is, "When was the last time we jumped at an opportunity to compliment others, to look for the good in another, to search for the nice while excluding the not-so-nice?"

I will be the first to admit that there were times, moments and phases in my past when I was not nice. I held grudges. I backstabbed verbally on occasion. I would quickly believe the rumors and gossip... and pass it along without any verification of the comments. And although I would have my daily habits of being nice, I have to admit that it did seem easier to "be mean." But easier is rarely better or healthier or more noble. It's simply just easier. You probably can find similar examples in your own past life.

But it's different now for each of us. We still have some of the small child and searching teenager within us and we'll make mistakes, but we're now adults - smarter, more experienced and hopefully, wiser. Many of us are parents to that same small child or searching teenager (who is our child) and we're now the one who is helping him/her understand the difference - not only the difference between being nice and not-being-nice, but also the difference between the harder and easier paths in each of our lives.

It's so much easier to just sleep in and never get up early to exercise, but in the long run, the consequences will "gain" on us. It's much easier to downplay the medication we should be taking, but the long-term outcome of our physical well-being will be in jeopardy. It's much easier to drown our problems rather than face them, but in the long run, we all know the probable outcome. It's much easier to see how the easier path can affect our physical well-being, but we have a hard time wrapping our mind around the consequences of the easier paths to our emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being.

We have a responsibility to ourselves and our past to now choose the harder, the healthier and better paths in our life. We have a responsibility to try to understand why the harder paths in our life are pivotal. And we have a responsibility to model those choices and understanding for those small children and searching teenagers in our life. It's time to reaffirm the belief that it's easier to be mean to others, but we choose not to...

hoedl's haven
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