This week has been a heavy and tiring week for me. Despite the large workload, cumbersome rehearsals, tiring commute, I continuously trouble myself with a single question: “Does something being understandable make it okay?”
The most recent example that I could think of would be on Tuesday in the subway. As usual, I boarded the usual A train to get to my usual class. I was having my usual spontaneous depressed mornings, listening to my usual depressing playlist in Spotify. This might have been what prompted my observant eye. Just when the doors of the trains were about to close, an African American woman boarded the train and stood in front of the doors to stop it from closing. She yelled towards the stairway and a toddler came struggling up the stairs. By the looks of her, she was around 5 years old, hair braided, wearing a cyan t-shirt with a little flower in the middle. What was unusual in this sight was that she was carrying a heavy Century Twenty One bag in one hand, and a McDonald’s happy meal box on the other. As she made her way up the staircase, her agitated mother kept yelling to usher her, her hand still on the door, the other on her half-finished burger.
As the little girl enters the train and the door closes, her mother tugged her towards a handrail opposite to hers. Without showing any signs of help, the mother ignored the little girl as she obediently picked up the bags and waddled towards the handrail. The little girl looked sadly at the ground as if she has dropped her favorite ice cream cone on the floor. Oblivious as she seemed, other than the side-eyes that she gave the little girl whenever she put down the bags or shuffled, the mother ignored her toddler as she continued to munch away on her burger.
I was surely not the only one staring as the event unravels. People around the lady gave slight commentaries of sighs. As she caught on the spying eyes, she dragged her toddler to an open seat and continued to invest her attention on the burger.My first thought was that I do not approve of how the mother treated her child. But, swiftly, my second thought that came up was that maybe it was her circumstances, upbringings or whatever; maybe what she did was understandable. And that thought immediately struck me like a eureka: since when was understandable okay?
My first thought was that I do not approve of how the mother treated her child. But, swiftly, my second thought that came up was that maybe it was her circumstances, upbringings or whatever; maybe what she did was understandable. And that thought immediately struck me like a eureka: since when was understandable okay?
We were taught to be slow to judge and quick to understand. No matter in school, in church, or at home, that was the general rule. By looking at the woman, I could list a bunch of reasons why what she did was understandable. But why do I have this urge to let this thing go and ignore it, just because it was something that was understandable? This thought occurred earlier than the incident on the train.
On Saturday I had a meeting with a bunch of club members on campus at 7:00pm. Prior to this meeting, I informed my mother about this event and told her that the meeting should end at 10:00pm. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the meeting overran. This triggered a series of events: calling my mother to inform her about the situation, informing her that I might be able to catch the 11:14pm train, continuing my meeting, leaving the meeting early to catch my train, despair at the sight of the E-train’s suspension, thankful that I eventually got on the C-train, despair and panicking at the sight of the leaving NJ transit. So long story short, I missed my train, which prompted me to get home late. In the midst of this debacle, the only thing that could make this situation worse happened: my mother’s phone call. In the phone call, she expressed, very clearly through the use of repetition and exaggeration through tone alterations, her fury. She rambled on while I tried to calm her with rational reasoning and that there was nothing that I could have done. She was angry, and it was understandable.
When I finally got home at 1:15am, my mother was waiting, arms crossed with a darkened face. She yelled at me for 2 hours straight, and ultimately she busted out her list of insults and personal attacks. She went on to comment on how messed up my values were, and how foolish I was to treasure friends over family, and how she finally understood why my father would desert me, and how I could not accomplish anything, and so on. She did not mean whatever she said, and it was understandable.
But I was emotionally and psychologically hurt. I was unable to cry that night, I was emotionally numb, I could no tell if I was happy or sad. I looked at the mirror to find someone that I could not recognized. Someone who looked aged and drained. On the next night, I was finally able to cry, and I let my tears flow.I have been told, she did not mean what she said, she said those things because she was furious. I understood. I understand. So, what now? I let go, and deal with my sadness myself? Do I deal with my suicidal thoughts myself? Do I blame myself for
I have been told, she did not mean what she said, she said those things because she was furious. I understood. I understand. So, what now? I let go, and deal with my sadness myself? Do I deal with my suicidal thoughts myself? Do I blame myself for bringing my doom on myself? Should I feel okay just because it was understandable? It was understandable that my mother could not understand me because she was furious, yet it was not understandable if I wanted to be understood. It was not understandable if I could not understand my mother. When did understanding become so important? So important that someone’s circumstance is more important the effect that it has one the other person.
So I ask again, to what extent does something being understandable make it okay? I do not have an answer.