Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Shattered Vases

Some years ago I walked through a house my company was building with the client who commissioned it while he told me how inferior he believed our craftsmanship proved.  He was particularly upset over the fact that if he were to kick an interior wall as hard as he could with his army issued steel toed boots the wall would have a hole!  Outrageous!  Please let me firstly say that we could have built his home with masonry, rammed earth, or concrete walls, but he had chosen and paid for standard framing and drywall.  I have an acquaintance whose rough treatment of his wife led her to veer toward divorce.  His sister advised that he buy her flowers and treat her nicely.  This behavior worked and the wife seemed happy.  Then the husband told his sister that being nice was very difficult and asked how long he had to be nice to his wife.  She answered, "Well, as long as you want to HAVE a wife."  Another man I know abused his wife unmercifully until it was absolutely necessary to separate the two in order to save her life.  She was of a resilient temper with the help of God and an excellent nurse soon began to fill her life with uplifting hobbies and put her energy into happy, creative interests.  He spoke to her on the phone, accusingly saying, "You're moving on with your life without me!" as though it were the most universally evil, unforgivable act imaginable.  

My friends, actions have consequences.  Let us say a person acts out in a fit of anger and flings a priceless and unique crystal vase on the floor.  Can he or she be surprised when it shatters?  Perhaps in the heat of anger they really wanted it to shatter.  Well enough, for they got what they wanted.  But then let us suppose that the same person who broke the vase cries, "It's not fair!  I wanted to put flowers in that vase!  I want it back!"  A crystal vase, shattered into hundreds of tiny pieces is mighty difficult to glue back together.  The person may say, "I am so sorry for what I did.  I will clean up the mess and pay for it."  That is well, but being sorry and paying a sum of money isn't going to fix that particular vase.  It may clean up the difficulties surrounding it, but it cannot restore the vase.  Moreover, let us say that said person was in the habit of smashing things when angry.  Even if we could fix that priceless vase, should we let it back into the same hands that smashed it unmercifully?  Should a person with such a temper seek for it, or should she say, "I don't want to be guilty a second time.  Please help me by taking it away and putting it somewhere safe."  Such an attitude would and should bring only compassion, appreciation, and aid from all involved. 

It seems a strange thing to relate but indeed, we live in a society that teaches us to forget that our actions have consequences.  We live in a world that encourages unsafe and casual sex, overwhelming credit card debt, and a plethora of other irrational behavior.  While we all want to make our children happy and often think that shielding them from consequences is the best thing, sometimes the compassionate thing is to let them feel the consequences of their actions on a small scale so that they will learn early and not have to feel negative consequences on a large scale.  It is not a happy person who has a distorted view of life and then wakes up to a cruel reality later, but a person who is taught the value of good and bad consequences in a manageable, loving way early in life and is therefore empowered by knowledge and understanding enough to face life head on in adulthood. 

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