I FINALLY get it. Yes I do. Hitting the M1 highway north on a warm sunny Autumn morning, the realisation that should have been so obvious, whacked me in the head. And if you're wondering what I'm yapping about, I refer to my previous post about why people can't just be honest with others (and themselves about their failings) and then go about living their lives like ordinary folk.
I can't pinpoint exactly which thought brought about the non-epiphany, but I did recall a case where a woman was making certain decisions about the kind of life she wanted to live and it deviated drastically from the conventions and traditions of the family she came from. The result being that she faced rather harsh criticism from the people she loved the most - who claimed to love her too.
There's a saying that goes something like this: Do not tell people your problems, because 20% of them don't care and the other 80% are glad you have them.
And as I was thinking about this saying, the non-epiphany struck. And here is where I don't want to generalise or stereotype - but really, I can only write about what I know. In any case, I can actually remember members of her extended family almost reveling at the trials and the tribulations that the family were experiencing at that time. And this is something quite common among the Indian/Asian communities in SA. Although I'm sure if you ask anyone else (i.e. the Portuguese, the Greeks, the Italians, the various Black tribes etc. in South Africa) everyone will have experienced the same thing, to varying degrees. This is what her family had to say:
"Serves them right... because they always think they're so wonderful. Mr. High and Mighty; always judging everyone else... now he'll see. His own daughter is doing the same thing."
That was the common opinionated response from various members of her extended family and their family friends. Of course it was all said behind their backs, but they knew what was being said anyway.
And this is what I've neglected to take into account when telling the initial story. See, I was only looking at it from my point of view and because I'm not someone who would have reacted negatively, for a moment I took for granted that everyone else wouldn't have reacted negatively either. I forgot how cruel some people can be - especially the people closest to you. Why is it that our worst critics; those people who would insult who we are as individuals, those who are unaccepting of the decisions we make or what we choose for ourselves; also happen to be the people closest to us?
Of course, this is not applicable to everyone... but I know more than a fair amount of people who are not entitled to their own beliefs or their own viewpoints... they're not allowed to have their own minds and opinions. They're obliged to conform to what their families or greater communities stand for - whether they agree with it or not.
What's worse is that sometimes friends can also judge you, even if they don't intend to. Personally, I've always found it easier to confide in and talk to relative strangers. Because they have no active interest in the situation, no agenda and stand to gain nothing from the outcome, they're always objective and tend to be more accepting and empathetic.
I still feel offended that she would think that I was one of the people who'd tell her "I told you so". Because truth is, even though I didn't think she was making the right decision, I still respected it as her decision. And I hoped and prayed that she'd find some kind of happiness. I was certainly not among the ones reveling in her pain and misery. It's an act that I find despicable, no matter what the situation. Every person's failure or misfortune is an opportunity for all of us to learn the lesson. And judging others only ever sets one up for the same or similar fate. Karma is only a bitch if you are.
*Schadenfreude is essentially, pleasure derived from the misfortune of others.