When I was in high school, some technicians from Sears came over to fix the water heater in our basement. When they left, they took my dad's 108-piece toolset with them (which happened to be lying right next to the water heater). I remember wandering into the dining room one day while my dad was on the phone, arguing with the Sears people. Although dad was unflappable as always, I could tell that he was not happy with the situation. And who would be? Ultimately, the Sears people agreed to purchase my dad a new set of tools, albeit a crappier one. At the end of the whole ordeal, my dad said to me something along the lines of, "In all my time in America, I have never met anybody like this," referring to the toolman.
That's not to say that he hadn't, in his dealings, met any incompetent, inconsiderate or even cruel people. Rather, it was the gall with which these Sears technicians took his things, then lied to his face about it. Then, they didn't respond to his complaints with compassion, but with more obfuscation. And when they finally did make up for it, it was with useless half-measures.
I've been on the internet for a long time now (since AOL was a dial-up service!) and I've met a lot of pretty mean people. On this blog, I've been called a whole host of evil things, and occasionally I've been informed that I'm going to hell. Still, in all that time, I never thought I'd have to say what my dad said, about meeting someone that terrible, that inconsiderate, that cold, that calculating.
I recently met someone online that epitomized all these above characteristics. This person lied to me and tried very hard to steal away my dignity. This person showed me the limits of friendship on the internet, and how ultimately, we can't really trust anyone. My anger burned against them for their deceit.
I've had some time to cool off, to realize that, in the end, no one's perfect. I've tried my best to realize that this person's crimes against me aren't that much more serious than my crimes against others. I'm reminded of a Bible verse that people don't really speak of that much these days:
You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.These were the words of Jesus, thousands of years ago. Today it's much more politically fashionable to rail against abortion clinics and teen sex (although apparently, it's become less and less fashionable as each day passes by). But despite an encouraging surge in attention towards social justice, few people really talk about these verses anymore. Jesus led through an example of self-sacrifice, where revenge was noticeably absent. Righteous indignation is still okay, but punching someone's lights out after they piss you off is not.
We all meet these types of people in our lives. Every day we encounter them when they cut us off on the road, when they are curt to us in the supermarket line, when they tell you to "Shut the f**k up" at your team meeting (true story). May we show them the courtesy and respect they so completely fail to show us.