IT HAS BEEN SAID THAT when two people (such as you and i) are communicating with each other, there are actually six people talking at the same time. Why?
First, there're "the person you really are" and "the person i really am". Then there're "the person you think you are" and "the person i think i am". Finally, there're "the person you think i am" and "the person i think you are".
Heard this before and heard this again last Thursday while attending the e-Learners Practitioners' Forum at the National Institute of Education (NIE). How true!
My anger with that sharp-tongued colleague surfaced last Tuesday. My reporting officer (RO) had just returned to work. Upon re-reading the email message, i got upset all over again and began to think, "Whatever has happened to the assertive (not aggressive) behavior that i have always believed in?"
The cheek to insult someone without cause and call it "fun"! Walked over and told my RO what i really thought of that colleague and his unkind jibes. Later, complained to another colleague over lunch. Strangely, that colleague seemed to have turned meek as a lamb, even brought something over from the other office to me with a reconciliatory smile.
The past week's readings (Colossians 3:8, 12-17; Luke 6:27-38, 41-42, 46) and talks by lay preacher James Murphy from USA kept reminding me how a good long-suffering Christian would behave. By Thursday noon, i've already prayed the upmteenth time for myself to forgive that colleague and for God to bless him (yeah, right!).
Nearly went over to speak to him after a week's cold war. At the same time, however, bitter words hovered on my lips as i took a lift from my RO's RO to NIE. It was quite a struggle for me to keep them unspoken and to mention someone else instead.
Then, perhaps wonder of wonders, what usually wouldn't happen this soon happened -- last Thursday afternoon, A. and the other colleague made a surprise entrance in the NIE lecture theatre and i spoke to them involuntarily. After that, conversation seemed normal though not quite the same as before.
i'm not proud to say this. But last week, grace did eventually triumph over sin -- my pettiness and my reluctance to forgive. As St Paul said in Romans 8:28, "...all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose."
Fr. Ronald Rolheiser summed it quite eloquently in The Last Word column of the latest issue of our local Catholic News:
"In essence, we all have two souls, two hearts, and two minds. Inside of each of us there's a soul, heart, and mind that's petty, that's been hurt, that wants vengeance, that wants to protect itself, that's frightened of what's different, that's prone to gossip, that's racist, that perennially feels cheated. Seen in a certain light, all of us are as small in stature as the pre-converted Zacchaeus. But there's also a tall, big-hearted person inside each of us, someone who wants to warmly embrace the whole world, beyond personal hurt, selfishness, race, creed, and politics.
"We are always both grand and petty. The world isn't divided up between big-hearted and small-minded people. Rather our days are divided up between those moments when we are big-hearted, generous, warm, hospitable, unafraid, wanting to embrace everyone and those moments when we are petty, selfish, over-aware of the unfairness of life, frightened, and seeking only to protect ourselves and our own safety and interests. We are both tall and short at the same time, and either of these can manifest itself from minute to minute.
"But, as we all know, we are most truly ourselves when what's tall in us takes over and gives back to the world what the short, petty person wrongly takes."
Finally, as Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC) once said, "It is easy to fly into a passion -- anybody can do that. But to be angry with the right person at the right time with the right object in the right way -- that is not easy, and not everyone can do it."
So, until i know how to do so, i believe i'll do well to handle anger with great caution.