by Mitch Lee
When I was in junior high school I had a very bad experience with another student. Though it was something we have all experienced and are guilty of, it’s an incident I remember vividly to this day.
The student and I got into a very heated altercation in the locker room that was both physical and verbal. Our anger seethed and broiled into harsh words about each other’s parents, our manhood, and any other thing we could could hurl at each other in those tense moments—including our fists.
When the words came out of my mouth I instantly regretted every one. I was so ashamed at what I had said that never, ever again in my life have I lost that much control.
It was a very intense learning experience; since that day I have fully understood what hurtful words could do to another person.
Gratefully, that student and I have grown and put the past behind us. Even so, I am mindful of that moment on the many occasions I sit to type a strongly worded letter to an organization, government agency or in answer to some foolish rant on Facebook.
However, I don’t think many people in this world have learned from their first bad experience of hurling hurtful words at another individual.
Every day I hear people, including political candidates, spilling less-than-reserved rhetoric from their lips.
It seems we are getting further removed from trying to sort out our answers when we speak. Our thoughts, I can assure you, can be spoken with conviction without casting out demeaning and hate-filled utterances.
Growing up on Limekiln Lake I infrequently faced situations that brought me into direct confrontations—physical or argumentative—with very many people.
I was always a very good listener and nodded my head at the many points I heard.
I never tried to discount the point they were trying to make even when I felt them to be very wrong.
In instances where I ran into bigotry and visceral hatred to political ideology I gave my point of view carefully so as to not be confrontational.
This has served me very well since I have reached upper mid dle age.
These days I find myself pointing the television clicker away from news channels and try to find some show that will present life as it is without a message from some producer or director’s point of view.
Most times I just shut it off and find a great book to read during a cold January evening.
Mitch Lee, Adirondack native & storyteller,
lives at Inlet. firstname.lastname@example.org