Monday, May 19, 2014

Tread Carefully.

It's been a difficult week. So many different reasons, but the take-away for me was a reminder that sometimes I need to step outside of my own life and be mindful that other people are dealing with their own problems. The happiest friend I have may be the one struggling the most.

That lesson played out repeatedly with different friends and different situations, but the message was always the same: tread carefully, for everyone is working through their own pain.

Fast forward to today and the realization that I'm nowhere near as wise as I think I am. Or more accurately, I'm nowhere near as empathetic as I thought I was.

I saw on article this morning about a judge who was extremely lenient in sentencing a convicted drunk driver. Reading it just made me mad, and I decided to share the link on Facebook with my friends. Not surprising, the post kicked off a conversation amongst several of my friends.

Now, I'm not saying that I should have seen this coming, because I have many Facebook friends and don't always know everything about this lives. But, I am bothered that the thought never even occurred to me that it might be a very painful subject for some friends to discuss.

People have strong opinions about drunk drivers. And sometime, those opinions are formed by direct experience. Today, for example, I learned that a Facebook lost his brother to a drunk driver. As you can imagine, the experience was painful for their entire family. And there I was, telling this friend what the judge should have done, how it should have been handled, and about the possible future consequences of this person receiving such a light sentence.

Seriously? Pretty sure my friend knows all about that and could teach me a great deal about it.

I share this blog not to make their pain about me, but rather as my own reminder to tread carefully in public conversations. People bring their own frames of reference to difficult topics, and I would be better off learning to ask questions, encourage open conversation, and listen to what others have to say before spouting off on every topic like I'm an expert.