I like it when people fit neatly into a box: This one annoys me, he goes in this box. This one pleases me, I’ll put her over here.
Everything is neat and orderly this way. Life makes sense, and I know where to step and where to skirt.
But people rarely stay where I put them. And lately, my Jacks have all popped from their boxes.
One man – whom I had met only once but knew well through popular culture – irked me to my core. I disagreed with everything he said, thought he was a fool and feared his power over weaker minds.
I put him in an ugly box and shoved it in a corner. I slapped a big sign on it that warned: “Avoid at all costs.” I felt good about that.
But I recently benefited from an act of kindness from this man – a big act of kindness, one that fostered a small miracle in my world. He did this not for recognition or selfish gain, but because it fit with his belief system – the same belief system I had ridiculed for years.
While I still disagree with many of this man’s views, the situation has softened my opinion of him. It also has made me question my own beliefs and the soundness of my judgments.
Humbled, I took the ugly box from the shadows and removed the sign. In its place I painted flowers and a question mark. I acknowledge that much remains a mystery about him, about myself.
It was the second such box I had to redecorate lately. Another held my opinion of a man who verbally attacked me over an innocent matter. He belittled me and made me feel bad about myself. I hated him.
His box was black and glowed with neon-green toxic energy. Its sign read: Do not touch. Call the Poison Control Hotline immediately if you accidentally come into contact with this box.
But months after the incident, this man showed incredible kindness to a helpless creature. His hostile demeanor evaporated into one of immense love and concern for another being.
It melted my heart.
How can one person show such different sides? Why will no one stay in their box? I grappled with these questions while drawing little hearts over the toxic poison sign.
And my conclusion is that we’re all capable of great love and great pain. Each of us is a prism that shines a rainbow of colors. Some of those colors please our peers; others irk them.
But we’re all worthy of each others’ love and understanding. And we should never decorate boxes with permanent paint.
(By the way, if anyone spots a wayward cockatiel, please contact me. I’m missing one of my flock members.)
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal