Keeping an Open Heart

We’ve all heard it to some degree before, someone, perhaps a friend or relative, talking about how life has hardened their heart, toughened them up, but do we wonder what they were like or might have been like if it wasn’t for being “toughened up”?

Probably not too much different from what they are now, but how much are they missing out on by letting the actions of a few influence their interactions with so many more than that few?

One thing I have been opposed to is overreaction. A perfect example of this, many such perfect examples, is city or state or even federal government imposing new restrictions on the populace based on the actions of a few or even one individual; punish everybody else for the actions of one.

City councils are notorious for this, proposing and passing ordinances based on a single action which affects everybody; even pet peeves become legislation which often only ends up in books like “America’s Dumbest Laws”.

But let’s examine this from a more personal perspective, from an individual perspective; how it affects each of us, and how we can avoid this. I’m going to use a few examples from my own life to illustrate the things people can do, how I could react, and how I should react.

I had been friends with a lady on Facebook for over 9 months, probably being the person who talked with her the most, especially through the message system. She was a beautiful woman, often sharing pictures taken by photographer friends of hers, showing she had a propensity for modeling.

What I really focused on was her artwork which not only showed incredible talent in being able to draw, but had incredible depth to it, even one such line drawing using a single color was so filled with emotion that I found myself tearing up just looking at it, and I don’t normally have these reactions to artwork.

I found myself wanting to know more about the person behind this artwork and began talking with her and discussing personal things with her, as well her with me.

I wasn’t the only one who found her to be interesting and she had many friends, including some celebrities, but most of her commenters were guys telling her how beautiful she was, while I was interested in talking about her to get to know the artist.

One day I received a message from a fellow friend of hers with a link to a website in it. I clicked on that link and the website which opened had her face proudly displayed on it as well as other pictures of her. One disturbing difference, though, is it wasn’t her name on the website.

My heart dropped as I looked for a contact form, found it, and sent an email to her, in some way desperately asking if she was my friend I had known of Facebook for so long.

The lady whose website it is was not her, though she turned out to be a very nice person responding kindly, and rather quickly, but my friend was a phantom; she did not exist.

For a second story, I work for a fortune 500 company in a field position. One year ago I was injured, and though I’m not going to focus on that part, in late March of this year, after having been put back to work prematurely and under false pretenses perpetuated by a manager, I was injured again, aggravating the same injury.

Te second time around I had asked for a number to call in to get medical treatment, an was met with silence. No answers to text messages, emails, and my managers would not answer their phones. Even calling in to an office I had dealt with before on the previous injury I was met with a roadblock saying they could not help me, even though I was in severe pain and pleading for help.

I did get in touch with a previous manager, who is the only person in the company I trust, and he got me the number I needed which got me in touch with the right person in HR who got things rolling to get me medical treatment. I am facing surgery and have effectively had my life changed as a result of this, but not ruined; I have my life and even though adjustments have to be made I can adapt and learn new things to move ahead.

And why did my managers ignore me and try to kick me to the curb? For money. Someone who gets injured and is off work and drawing compensation counts against their quarterly totals and can affect whether or not they get their bonuses, and they ignored me and tried to interfere with me getting medical treatment to keep from losing their bonuses.

Do I have anger? Yes, but I cannot let that rule me. For a while with the latter incident concerning my injury and my managers, I was very angry with what they did to me and thought some things I probably should not have thought. In the former, I was hurt and especially since I thought I had developed a level of trust with this person and she used it against me and others.

Yes, in these two cases I dealt with people who were dishonest, cheaters, and without conscience. But these are only a few people, others did not do this to me, they did. If I allow myself to judge others by what they did, there is a lot I can miss out on by closing my heart.

This is essentially the crux of this discussion, keeping one’s heart open despite the pain, anger and suspicion a select few have put into us through their actions. When people do things like this, it is tempting to say things like “that’s what people do”, “it’s the nature of people”, or even “what’s the world coming to”, but the actions of a very few do not define the majority of people, or even a single person unjustly.

People, flesh and blood people who have feelings as we do are what makes up the world around us, and that world includes those online. If we let the actions of a very few close us off to others, we are not only missing out on a lot, but also being unfair to others by treating them with a conviction and suspicion for things they did not do.

Yes, I am cautious online with people I don’t know, or whom I cannot confirm who they are, but I do not shut them out as everybody deserves a chance to be trusted and accepted, and the majority of the time I will be right; as compared to being suspicious and treating someone like they are guilty until proven otherwise and being wrong the majority of the time.

We reap what we sow, and even though life might be unfair to us at times, putting that off on others not only gives us back nothing but bitterness, it turns us into the very people who hurt us in the first place. I surely don’t want to be my managers, and I’m sure there are people you don’t want to be, but if we let those people change us, the next time we look in a mirror we might not recognize or even like the person we see.

Do remember that some people in life are going to be our enemies, and, like in war, when we turn to using our enemies’ tactics, we become our enemies and they can proudly proclaim “mission accomplished”.

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