Do you know that you are less likely to hold a grudge against a snake for biting you than a fellow human being for assaulting you?
For those who agree with the statement, the answer is pretty obvious, snakes unlike humans are not rational intelligent creatures. This is why we have a tendency to take things personal when we find ourselves on the receiving end of hurtful words or actions from other people versus animals. We often expect others to be as considerate to us as we are to them, but the reality is that people make decisions based on how they perceive the world around them, and it’s nothing to take personal.
Back when jerry Springer was popular, I remember watching an episode where a woman came on stage to share with the audience her history of being bullied and how she was still struggling with depression from her experiences. She described to a sympathetic audience how mean spirited this school bully had been to her, and the hurtful words he and his friends would say to her on a daily basis in the school halls and classrooms.
Then Jerry Springer had a surprise for the woman and the audience. He had invited this woman’s former tormentor to the show, only that the man had no idea that he was about to be confronted for his past actions. The cheer from the audience was deafening, Jerry had to wait for the cheer to die down, before giving the woman her instructions.
She now had a chance to confront a bully from her past, she was to remind him about the hurtful taunts and ridicules she experienced from him and tell him specifically how his behavior had impacted her to this day.
Then he came out… the man looked confused and surprised as he was greeted with boos coming onto the stage. He was promptly directed to take seat by a staff on set. He kept looking at Jerry, the woman and the disapproving booing audience, with wide eyes as he waited for an explanation.
Jerry Springer, then raised his hand in the air and gently waved it up and down to signal for the boos to stop. She didn’t wait to be prompted, once the boos stopped she immediately turned to him.
“Do you remember me?”
“No,” the man replied.
“We went to high school together,” then she mentioned her name. It was then he said he remembered her.
Without hesitation, she began to remind him about how he and his friends had routinely taunted her with name calling, embarrassing pranks and how these antics had affected her self esteem to the extent where she had come close to attempting suicide.
Jerry Springer then chimed in, reiterating what the woman had just said and asking if he understood. Then It was the man’s turn to speak. He looked very regretful. He then expressed his apologies for what he had put her through during their high school days. He pleaded with her to understand that while he was a different person than he had been during their years in school, he had never meant to drive her towards committing suicide. He further shared that he was now married with children and as a father he would not tolerate any of his children bullying their classmates.
I ended up feeling more sorry for the woman, to think that she had gone almost a decade going through hurt and pain visited her by a high school bully during their teenage years.
That’s what a grudge looks like. Old menacing pain, that a person holds unto over any period of time. That person remains stuck in time, while his or her adversary has probably moved on. What made that episode of Jerry Springer so striking, is that her tormentor was no longer a tormentor, that poor woman had become so stuck in her misery that she was holding unto a ghost. She did accept his apologies to the delight of the audience.
This why forgiveness is important. Forgiving is simply about letting go of hurt and pain caused to you by someone else and taking away what lessons you can from the experience.