But in theory at least, I shouldn’t.
Earlier in the week I read a comment by a friend that just came across all-wrong. We were given no background information, just a stark statement in quite uncompromising language. What I found most disturbing was that the person concerned was part of a group on relief-work to a Third-World country. We all know that accidents & mix-ups occur in the West but propensity for them to happen in developing nations is so much greater.
I think what really got to me though was that this was a group from my church.
Anyone who reads my posts will know that I rarely mention my Christian faith; not because I’m afraid to but because I think that if people cannot see that I say & do things consistently with what I believe, then I have no real right to say anything. I prefer actions to speak first & then I can answer with words later if people want to know more.
I hate hypocrisy with a passion & I hate arrogance with a passion. These are two traits that I continually try to keep at bay, not because I want to make an ‘great impression’, but because of their insidious nature to pollute & corrupt my thinking & how I live. That is why the comment so fired me up to write a somewhat blunt response.
If you read the original comment in isolation of any facts, it says:
‘Almost homeless tonight. Sleeping on a bed on a hotel floor is not good enough. I growled like a lion. Everything is okay now as people are being removed from their rooms to make space for us.’
I have no doubt there is a whole lot of unmentioned stuff that went on. I know so, because I received a message asking me to delete my comment as I didn’t understand what was going on.
Do you know, they were absolutely right; I didn’t.
But neither would 99% of the other people who were to read that comment as it was written. They were likely to draw the same conclusions as I did. Indeed a number of people expressed their concern & dismay at the statement, especially that a link was made between ‘being homeless‘ & not being able to sleep in a hotel bed. I’m not sure that a large percentage of the population in the country they are visiting ‘to help’ would appreciate such a crass statement & I’m fairly sure that homeless people Worldwide may also wish to debate it too 🙂
As so often happens, it wasn’t the subject content of the comment that was the problem, it was how it had been expressed in words that could only be read one way in the absence of facts.
What also concerned me was that the person writing the post was part of a larger group & so, by publishing it on a very public social media site, was implying endorsement of what was written by the rest of the group. Maybe they had that endorsement; I don’t know. I certainly hope not!
What I do know is that damage was done through the use of careless words expressed in anger & frustration without any apparent censorship or self-control.
So, when I challenged it using deliberately equally blunt terminology, as they say, the fan was hit!
The message I received separately, asking me to remove my post told me how offended they had been at what I had written, but when I explained how offensively the original comments had come across, they were ‘surprised & sorry as it hadn’t meant to be.’ I can only conclude that they did not read what had been written & certainly did not consider how others would interpret what was written. Either that, or they just didn’t care; in their haste to express how indignant they felt they had completely lost sight of how it would be interpreted.
My point is, it’s all too easy to be so caught-up in our own little world that we lose sight of the bigger picture. What I want takes priority over what is best for the greater good. The end result is usually distrust, breakdown of relationships, generation of suspicion; none of which is positive.
I’m sure that the post could have told the same story without being offensive simply by choosing better words. That way, it would have been read with interest & even sympathy without putting people’s backs up.
No matter how much we want to write something, it always pays to write a draft first, then edit so that it says the same in a way that people will listen to/read & accept, rather than in a way which alienates & usually creates more problems than it solves.
That is a personal decision which may not come easily, but that doesn’t mean that we are exempt from trying.
And if we can’t take the potential flack we generate, perhaps it’s best not to make a comment at all?