Forgiving Harvey

We’ve all witnessed it. The frustrated, angry mother in the supermarket screaming at the top of her lungs at her wild children, using foul language and demeaning words to regain lost control.

Words kill. Anything that can seduce another, even an innocent child, into secret anger and judgment, results in creating the future tyrants and bullies to pass along the same spirit that originally brought terror to them.

As parents, it’s crucial that we keep our cool with our kids. They are always watching, and carefully too. They miss nothing. Upset parents traumatize children. Negative emotions plant a seed of hate inside that haunts them for the rest of their lives. They become angry, coming to hate us and the world. They spread the same bitterness projected into them into their own children. Unless they come to forgive us, as we should also be forgiving of our own parents for doing the same to us, then they are screwed. As we already are. What a mess, huh?

Maybe you saw it yesterday. A CNN reporter, sent to cover the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, began interviewing a woman who totally lost her cool, becoming foul mouthed and upset with the reporters, screaming and cursing like a crazy person in front of her little girl.

This is exactly what happens in the home too. And when it does, all hell truly breaks loose in a family.

It happened in your home when you were growing up. That being the case, it is also happening again right now.  That is, if you’re fortunate enough to not have already had your home disintegrate under the reign of an angry mother or father.

Yes, the situation is bad in Texas. The pressures are enormous. Harvey isn't just an inconvenience to daily life. There’s death and destruction. But unless we learn how to live so that anger cannot get inside us, no matter what, we will automatically pass on a terrible legacy of hate and fear onto our children. We will contaminate the world with bitterness.

That woman gave permission to be interviewed. If she felt that reporters shouldn’t be speaking to people in her position, she could have turned it down. Yet she stood there waiting to get on TV and it was not with a helpful spirit. It was with meanness. She was upset with police, complaining how, “Nobody came, nobody came,” totally ungrateful for having finally been rescued. She and her daughter’s lives were saved by responders.

At least half of everyone watching that incident will empathize. They’ll think it is understandable. And perhaps it is understandable, but identifying with the hostility in another does not make it right.

You see, like this angry mother, you too were born into an imperfect culture, a world flawed and sometimes hostile, your particular circumstances notwithstanding. You could have been born with a silver spoon in your mouth, or unwanted, to a drug dealer, in the back room of a crack house. It makes no difference.

Darkness and Light exist in every corner. The whole world has set up into assorted cultures and environments that are chock-full of negative and positive energy. It’s when the negative stuff gets inside us that we too become destructively infectious, carriers of confusion and disorder. The innocence we’re born with is overwhelmed while we begin to turn into what we hate.

It was most likely a parent who first did it to you. They set you up by upsetting in some way and in that moment, you were imprinted with the brutality of a tormentor. You were traumatized, becoming sensitive to even more cruelties in an unfair world.

CNN is a terrible network; its reporters are among the most dishonest people I have ever seen in journalism. It is very likely, given CNN's reputation, that they spoke with this woman beforehand and knew she had a gripe about how her rescue went. They do stuff like that.

But let’s assume the reporter was just doing her job, that she was unbiased and simply sent to cover the rescue operation in the aftermath of a hurricane of the century. The human-interest angle includes speaking with people who were helped by rescuers. That woman could have easily said, “No thank you. I do not want to be on TV right now.”

But she agreed to be interviewed. Is her ire understandable? Sure, if you have that same angry spirit within you, then, of course, you will identify strongly with her impatience. But is it right? Absolutely not. Her poor little daughter does not stand a chance with a belligerent mother like that. Just as mom did not stand a chance for hating her own parents.

This isn’t a piece about one woman in Texas or one news-manipulating CNN reporter. I’m just reminded by both that tyranny, cruelty, and injustice is all around. Whether we respond to anger, or remain neutral, we touch the world now as well as the generations to come – our kids.

The worst thing that can happen to children is what happens to too many of us, to not have fatherly love to teach them patience, tolerance and how not to be angry - and to be subject instead to an uncorrected, impatient, mother who cannot keep her cool, even under the most trying circumstances.

That woman needed to forgive Harvey. She hadn’t. She hated Harvey, and the police, and the media. We all need to overlook any misfortune and wrong circumstances and once we do, love enters in to replace where anger would otherwise stand. We begin to live in peace, and we can get through ANYTHING.

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