As long as we are motivated by the desire to punish each other, there will be no end to the hostilities and there will be no happiness in me, in you, or between us.
–Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist teacher
It might be satisfying
For a little while
To score a verbal hit
To show somebody up
To point out their racism or ignorance
To speak words that appear calm on the outside
But inside jeering is having its day
But, like everything else,
These little pleasures of “victory” or “superiority”
Come, linger, and dissolve
And my words, looks, and tones
May have set into motion any number of karmic consequences
I may have watered the seeds of fear
Or reactive righteous indignation
In the other person
Who then goes on to share words, looks, and tones
With those she comes into contact
On and on
Beyond a single human being’s ability to calculate and consider
“But I don’t want to appear weak!”
“I have to challenge his lies!”
“Somebody has to take the side of the victims!”
My mother used to say:
It’s not so much what you do.
It’s how you do it.
Laura, thank you for today’s sharing at 6 North Coffee.
Becca, thank you for our early morning stroll last week in Forest Park.
Sandhya, I wish we could have a nice, long chat. You are missed.