Forgiveness is giving up hope of a better past.”

we’ve all done it. whatever it was–be it the deep set eyes, a hand flung in the midst of an explanation, the slew footed gait, the alarming laugh that erupted mid-joke–something about the person we met triggered an association with someone we once knew.

the trouble begins with our inability to distinguish between the person we used to know and the individual who is currently in our lives. we inadvertently and subconsciously associate their laughter with the nails on chalkboard sound that our friend/lover/colleague from once upon a time used to make our hairs stand like quills. these minor irritations give way to greater offenses, until even the most silent exhale from the person quickens the rage we now harbor toward our unsuspecting friend.

i taught a girl a few years ago, who deliberately set out to be as disrespectful to me as she could for the fifty-five minutes we were together every day. she said offhandedly to another student how I was just like her mom. knowing the history between her and her mom, the pieces that wouldn’t connect finally clicked. as long as she could not separate me from her mom, she would remain hateful and defiant. our relationship would be fractured until she was able to acknowledge that i was a different person from her the one she saw me as.

when we allow the inevitable “you remind me of…” to dictate how we treat a person, we are making the mistake of believing our perception is reality. we perpetuate the damage of our past by hurling the emotions we are unable to process at someone whose only crime was laughing the same way. we rob ourselves of the chance to build a better relationship with someone else, while life goes on for the ones who have wronged us. who do you see when you look at me?


merits of martyrdom

what good is sacrifice to a nonexistent god? when nothing is gained from the losses incurred, when the damages serve no one well, sacrifice becomes sabotage. no merit exists for the self-appointed martyr, whose motives will forever be questioned.

are you doing this to be seen differently by the world, or because you want everyone else to see the world differently because of you? anna deavere smith’s question about artists rings true for anyone who does something for “the greater good.” because the sobering reality every lens shows us is that injustice and evil have a permanent residence in our world. there simply is no greater good, because as much as we are all in this together, we are in it, first and foremost, for ourselves. that for all the progress we deem laudable, there’s so much work to be done. that at the heart of altruism is and always will be a kernel of narcissism.

to diminish the significance of someone else’s beliefs in the name of sacrifice, to deny yourself and those you love in the name of a nonexistent greater good certainly guarantees that you will, indeed, be seen differently. the acts of heroism by those whose demons hold their hands at every turn are acts of cowardice. we are only as noble and as strong as our greatest flaws. any injustice done in the name of justice slanders justice’s name. and you will not sign your certificate of sacrifice with my blood. you. will. not.