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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Shopping for Truth: Keep Your Problems to Yourself

Published: March 28, 2008
Section: Opinions

I’ve always felt a real sympathy for other people who run into unfortunate situations or tragedy; I think we all do. It takes this and a lot of empathy to put ourselves into someone else’s shoes and try to envision what they’re going through. It’s a daily task we all have to perform with the people we encounter. Why did that person beep at me on my commute this morning? Why did someone glare at me while walking up Rabb steps? Why are people so darn miserable sometimes?

This is something that’s been on my mind a lot lately. If you’ve read my recent column entitled Communication 101(2/29/08), you’ll know my disappointment with some specters of humanity. Now on to those miserable people we all know. Come on, admit it, there’s one person who instantly popped into your mind just then; don’t deny it! There’s always a Debbie Downer in our lives. There’s always someone who wants to rain on our parade. Ok, enough clichés for one paragraph.

A few weeks ago in my USEM, I read excerpts from Jane Adam’s Democracy and Social Ethics. In this particular piece of Adam’s writing, she discusses the great polarities between the haves and the have nots. Why are the poor so bitter? Why do they distrust the rich when they try to give them charity? How do we fix this? These are just a few of the questions Adams poses in her work.

Ultimately, Adams believes that we need to understand each other in order to attain peaceful coexistence. And that’s totally true, especially when each of us is so different from the next person. So the rich need to step into the shoes of the poor and try to understand why they’re the way they are. But what about people on somewhat similar economic standings in today’s world? How do we understand each other’s invisible problems when on the surface, there’s nothing as blatant as a poverty-stricken lifestyle to use as the scapegoat for our anger?

Recently I’ve been extremely frustrated by this problem because I’ve always believed that you shouldn’t condemn other people and make them suffer for your misfortunes. Ok, so you’re having a bad day (or life in the case of some people), but does that give you the right to make everyone else suffer? Call me crazy, but I don’t think so, at least not last time I checked.

For instance, everyone makes mistakes, but sometimes the littlest blunder can cause an eruption. People’s anger can get so bottled up that they just explode at someone for something as trivial as forgetting to put the cap back on the toothpaste tube. I recently was on the receiving end of these explosions and was quite offended. No, scratch that, I was mad.

I consider myself to be a pretty nice, hardworking person and while I have my faults, I don’t think it’s ok to blow up at people for mistakes, especially those that might not necessarily be their fault. And when people, especially those in authority positions, use their seeming power to blow up at others, that’s just wrong and there’s nothing that justifies it. I resent being yelled at and scolded for something I didn’t do, and I especially resent it if the person yelling at me is just a habitually miserable person.

Honestly, with some people you just can’t tell what you’re going to get day to day. Some days they’re the angelic one and sometimes the devil. I know some people will say ‘that’s life, we all have ups and downs,’ but there are some people who are the exception to this rule. Some people are just plain miserable and pessimistic and want to ruin everyone else’s fun.

Bad stuff happens, that’s not something new. But just because the little rain cloud is hanging over your head doesn’t mean you need to infect other people’s sunny days. One thing I’ve never understood is why people think they’re going to gain friends by treating other people like crap. Hasn’t anyone ever heard the saying “treat others the way you’d like to be treated?” By all means, if you want other people to treat you cruelly, then don’t be surprised if you get just that in the end. Because karma is real and you get what you give.

I guess for now all we can do is be the bigger person, don’t worry be happy, and a number of other age old sayings. But it comes to a point where enough is enough and whether you have to quit a job, break up a friendship, or just plain walk away, do it. Don’t let the man, or woman keep you down. I know I won’t. Now to find a nice way to break it to them. Oh well, there’s always next week’s column!