“Troubled Others?” Me Happy!

“Someone else is worse off than you,” Mother would tell me about my failing grade in science. (I didn’t want to be a scientist anyway!)

Assembling my woe by amplifying it with the greater unknown or known sorrows of others was intended to stop the conversation and provide a salve for me. How sadly reducing others but how glibly said by my Mother and many others to me since then.

That response said to me both then and now is to merely seek out someone else in more trouble, worse health, more doubt and confusion than mine—a brilliant way to end a personal exchange.

It’s called deflection. Switch the subject. Change the focus. Public figures love to use that technique to quiet accusers from further media attention. Mothers may use it because she’s washing the dishes and doesn’t want to engage a nine-year-old. So deflect away.

Hence, my new homework from both Mother and others? Just think of woeful someones with more significant concerns than mine. Then, I will again become a happy kid or content adult.

What happens then is a slight self-examination but a more significant appreciation for all those people with more troubles. I only use the word “appreciation” because it is what others told me to do.

That’s not the union of the Body of Christ – it’s, only once more, division. Their troubles make mine seem trivial, so, once again, I’m a happy camper.

We do the same between two people sharing. In essence, the implied statement is that “My cancer is more serious than yours!” Cancer-talk now becomes a sporting event, “Who’s gonna win or lose?”

May we never lose the ability to hear each other and to listen with our hearts. Just imagine a conversation when I friend tells you about a personal affliction. Unless asked, you add nothing about yourself to the conversation.

That’s the Body of Christ in action.

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). www.Salvatorians.com. Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on Amazon.com.
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