We teach our children to be polite, well-mannered and respectful and to never ever hurt others’ feelings. We do it because we in turn were taught by our parents and elders to do the same. So, we tell them not to speak loudly, never shout at others, walk away from a fight, and if someone is doing something you think is not correct just ignore that person. We ask them to do all these things because we don’t want them getting hurt when people who don’t really mind fighting, or raising their voices, or are rude and sarcastic make our children their targets.
I have always on my part put myself in other people’s shoes so that I can understand why they may be behaving in an offensive way and have the ability to tolerate such aggression, or if it becomes very hurtful I just cut myself off from that person. Jeff Peterson says “I think the best way to tolerate people is to put yourself in the other person's shoes. I think it makes it a lot easier to understand where someone is coming from. Sometimes it's more difficult when someone has a different view than you and you don't understand why.”
While what he says makes so much sense in a close relationship, it has stopped making sense to me in so many other ways. Do I still turn the other cheek when I stop going to the swimming pool because when so-called educated people spit and clear their throats in the very water all of us have to swim in; a stranger-a self-styled coach starts teaching cricket to children in the park and tells my son not to bowl because he is not a good bowler; a 23 year old neighbour suffering from bipolar disorder threatens my family harm and asks for money while his parents out of fear let him do what he wants to!
What should I do as a mother whose first duty is to her children and her family? Should I fight for my rights or should I just pull myself away, stop swimming, stop sending my son to the park and sit at home virtually petrified of this boy we are ready to sympathise with but who is making it difficult for us to do so because he is a danger not only to himself but more importantly others. How can I sit quietly when the very foundation of my existence is being threatened?
Do I keep tolerating even when I really don’t have to in fear of retaliation from others or because those people are very well connected. Do I just overlook everything and not pay attention to the negative impact of all the situations and people I have decided to tolerate?
How much pounding can I take before I know it is enough? How much is really enough?