There has been a lot in the news and on social media today about President Trump’s alleged comments about some other countries and their people. If what he said is true (which I can’t say for sure since I wasn’t there and really don’t know the character or integrity of anyone who is making the claims), he should be ashamed and somebody needs to help him. I am not that somebody. I don’t have access to the White House and I really doubt that he reads my Facebook comments or blog.
While it’s not exactly the same, my dad can sometimes be embarrassing. It seems like he needs to be the center of attention when we go out in public so is constantly trying to make people laugh. As he has gotten older what he thinks is funny actually isn’t and can sometimes be perceived as rude by some people. I used to apologize for him but I finally realized that people do not transfer my dad’s comments to me. They don’t think bad of me because of what my dad says. Ultimately, they take what he says with a grain of salt, realizing that he’s just a silly old man trying to get a laugh.
Let me quickly say that my dad isn’t that bad, his comments that embarrass me really aren’t that big of a deal and I likely have made more of an issue of them than what they are. But all of this talk about the POTUS and his comments have made me think about my dad and what it would be like if it wasn’t the President of the United States but my father and his comments weren’t about other countries or people but about my sister. What if the same situation was in my family, would the response of those in the meeting with the POTUS, the press, the public and even Christian leaders make any sense? Allow me to share with you a modern-day parable (sort of). I’ll leave it to you to make the application.
If my father says something bad about my sister, he is wrong. If I tell my sister what he said and it hurts her, then aren’t I wrong?
My sister would rightfully be mad at my father for what he said about her and may thank me for telling her but I am still the one who caused her pain.
Did I help my sister by telling her what my father said? No.
Did I help my father by telling my sister what he said? No.
If I really wanted to help, it is my dad who needs it so I should talk to him. It doesn’t help my father’s attitude by telling my sister what he said.
If I can’t approach my father about it then there really is no benefit in telling anyone else about it, unless they could help him. Likely, however, the neighbors, the local homeowner’s association (HOA) or even other father’s in the neighborhood couldn’t help how my father feels, thinks or speaks, so by telling my sister and other people what my father said only served to hurt my sister. The neighbors may rally against him and raise a neighborhood outcry against what he said. The pastors of the churches in the neighborhood may preach next Sunday about how bad my father is and how my sister is actually a very good person and shouldn’t listen to my scumbag father. But has any of that helped my father? Nope. Has it helped my sister? Nope, again. It just kept the comments being said over and over again causing pain to my sister over and over again.
But the show of support should make my sister feel better, shouldn’t it? Not likely. In fact, if I hadn’t of made my dad’s comments public in the first place, she wouldn’t need feeling better. Actually, even if I shared what my dad said out of some ill-informed sense of duty to my family, if the neighbors hadn’t made such a big deal about it, dad’s comments wouldn’t have hurt her as much and in fact, she may not have paid any attention to what he -or I, repeating it- said.
Here’s something I didn’t know: my father has been trying to get help for how he talks and acts around the family. He has a counselor or adviser (more than one, in fact, and one of them is a minister) who listens to everything he says and privately tells him where he is going wrong and how to improve. As it turns out, he listens to them more than he would me, the neighbors, the HOA, or even the local pastors, because they aren’t constantly slamming him for what he says and does but instead offers constructive criticism that builds up instead of tears down.
What’s more, what my father said bad about my sister was just words. Yes, they flow from the heart and the attitude that created those words could become actions that could hurt my sister more. Fortunately, my father is not a single dad. There is my mother who, while she can’t control what my father thinks or says does have a say about what he does to my sister. Also, should my father try to do something bad to my sister, I would step in to protect her. Then there’s his advisors, who when the rest of us leave the room, set him straight. So, just because my father said something bad about my sister, that doesn’t mean that he can actually do anything bad to my sister because my mother has a vote and I have a vote and his advisers have a vote.
Should dad be saying bad things about my sister? No, he needs to work on that but what I, or anyone else who has been vocal about his comments, say won’t help him. And again, just because he says something bad it doesn’t mean that he will do something bad since there are others here to protect her.
Does it help my sister at all for me to air our dirty laundry to the rest of the neighborhood? No. That only serves to boost my own ego, get me favor with my sister and neighbors and maybe hurt my dad- all to my benefit, not to my sisters, my family’s or my neighbor’s benefit.
Does it help for the neighbors, the local pastors, the HOA or anyone else to rally against my dad and his comments and apologize to my sister on the neighborhood’s behalf? Not really. It just gets a bunch of “likes” on their Facebook comments and page clicks on their websites.
.I know this “parable” only parallels current events so far and you’ll find plenty to disagree with, but hopefully it serves to show that there is more that we should consider about situations and the results of our comments before we pull out our soap box (or keyboard).
Finally, here is some wisdom from sacred writ:
Proverbs 17:9 offers a bit of good advice for us all: Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
Proverbs 11:12 is a good proverb for President Trump (and all of us) to consider before speaking: Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.
Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 is a good word for those who may be offended by what people say: Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.