Name calling

A while back, I was talking with someone about the controversy surrounding the Huy Fong Foods Sriracha plant in California. He said “a bunch of douchebags are complaining about the sriracha plant.” I remembered thinking that this was an uncharitable characterization. He didn’t say “people” or “Californians,” but called them “douchebags.” He was creating this separation from these people and dismissing their concerns as invalid. Yet what if it was his daughter who had constant asthma attacks and his son who was crying daily about burning eyes? The causal link between these symptoms and the sriracha plant may be in dispute, but to write off such complaints as coming from “douchebags” is crude.

Similarly, imagine that your car is idling at a red light. Just as the light turns green, the car in front swerves in and cuts you off. You might say “That asshole cut me off!” Yet what if you were in the car ahead? What if you cut someone off because you were in a rush to get to an appointment, or you were distracted from talking to a friend, or made a genuine mistake? You might say “Well, I should be excused. In my case, it was ok.” Yet so often we fail to extend that same understanding to another person. Instead of considering that the driver was exhausted from a long day’s work, or that the waitress who wasn’t attentive was worried about her sister, or that the coworker who took the last sandwich was simply not thinking, we call them “assholes,” “bitches,” and “douchebags.” Instead of relating to others as people, we create caricatures, one-dimensional cretins incapable of other concerns or motives.

Friends, that is not the way to live. Remember that the other person is an actual person. Don’t be consumed by toxic anger, resentment, or bitterness. Next time someone behaves in a rude or offensive manner, try to understand what they may be thinking and feeling.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *