The other day I was driving through a new neighborhood development when I noticed that there were a number of small flags of several different colors stuck in the ground in front of many of the houses. The flags are placed to identify the different places where gas, water pipes, telephone lines and other utilities which serve as a warning to those who might be digging in the area not to damage them.
Although I had seen similar flags numerous times before, something struck a chord in me that served as a reminder of how people tend to flag certain things in their lives and in the lives of others as well. We set up reminders, or flags, as to what we need to do tomorrow or next week in the form of calendars. We flag places where we’ve kept something very important so as not to forget. We flag the graves of veterans with the American flag in honor of their service to our Country. We even flag the pages of books using a bookmark so as to identify the place where we may have left off in our reading.
There is one flag, though, that seems to be used rampantly within our society and that is the flag of reminding people of their mistakes. That seems to be a favorite pastime not only for pundits, newspapers and those seeking to discredit the reputation of others in order to make a living but, on a lesser scale, even the average “Joe” talking with his or her work colleagues around the water cooler may be flagging the behavior or reputation of a fellow employee, manager or CEO in order to diminish their reputations. It isn’t unusual for some of that banter to contain several falsehoods in order to embellish the storytelling so that the gained attention might be considered juicier. Sometimes, I wonder whether this practice is going to supersede baseball as America’s favorite pastime. It certainly seems to be played out much more than any of the baseball schedules could demonstrate.
It seems so easy to find the mistakes in life while being extremely difficult to focus on the successes or good that people do. What drives this phenomenon? Well, the first thing that comes to mind is that there is a good deal of anger floating around ~ anger that people just don’t know what to do with and so they choose the road of least resistance, the road of negativity. It’s almost as if wearing the “badge of anger” is the mantra that many feel they must display in order to find a secure place in their lives ~ lives that are filled with hurry, stress and disinvolvement. The qualities of caring, respect, honor and giving the benefit of the doubt seem secondary to determining whether there is enough evidence available in situations so that a lawsuit might be filed.
As in Roman times “let the games begin!” seems to be the hewn cry with the audience enthusiastically awaiting to see if the gladiator will leave the arena alive or be mangled by the lions. Unfortunately, when the outcome is in doubt, there is seldom a “thumbs up” given by those perpetrating the unfounded stories. The self-justification that they believe is on their side masks any guilt that they might have in realizing the seriousness of their stories or how those stories might affect the person who is being targeted or even their spouses and children. There is a small catch here, though. What they might not realize or even give a second thought to is whether, in another part of their lives unbeknown to them, the same kinds of harm may be being targeted at them by others who share in the sport. I guess there really isn’t any winning in this game, only irreparable damage.
(4 September 2013)
Both as a consultant and author, Charles Bonasera’s story-telling have motivated people to change patterns and resolve problems in their lives. All of his books contain valuable, practical lessons that people can easily apply to bettering and managing their lifestyles. He has also written a myriad of articles which can be found on his website at www.charlesmbonasera.com.