At first glance, this may seem a bit slanted and directed at a single unnamed individual; I assure you it is not. I would like to assert that this is intended as a possible revelation for all those who send messages or cute little notes with clichéd phrases (like the one above) without understanding there are consequences when you send such things even if it is done with the best intentions in mind.
A prime example of this: a few weeks ago, I was visiting a friend. He invited me over to share some devastating news. I advised him to get his mind off things and to get some rest. He said he wanted to check his messages first. He logged onto his computer and when he opened his social network page a huge colorful balloon message flashed across his screen, it read, “CELEBRATE TODAY – GET DEAD DRUNK!” It was sent, innocently, by a fellow college frat friend (by the way they were not drinkers, he just thought it would be funny to send it). What that frat kid did not know was a drunk driver had killed my friend’s mother just hours before my friend opened his computer to check his messages. Some people would say it was harmless and the frat kid had no way of knowing his friend’s mother died. Sure, but it was too late, the harm was done. My guess is—it was not so harmless after all. My point: we are all responsible for our actions, all actions, those considered purposeful and those “harmless” and seemingly innocent actions. In our defense we cannot say to a judge, “I am sorry I shot a rifle into the woods and killed the child. It was dark outside, it was nighttime, and I couldn’t see, besides who allows a child to walk in the woods at night it’s their parents fault.” No it is not and that is not a good defense.
Recently, I received a post on my social network site, a cliché (above picture). The cliché read, “The past should be left in the past, otherwise it can destroy your future. Live life for what tomorrow has to offer, not for what yesterday has taken away.”
My response at the time was spontaneous and after careful consideration, I should have taken the time to come up with a better response, but hey, that is what my blog is for–my privilege. See, to me, and those people closest to me would know, I find the cliché to be offensive.
My response at the time was, “I couldn’t disagree more… The Native American Indians had a past, look where they are now. The Jew’s had a past, should they just disown who they are? The African-Americans have a past, which affected all of their tomorrow’s. The ones who say, “The past should be left in the past,” live an illusion. Our past is a part of our present and it forms our future. To ignore our past is to not to live for today and not to care about our tomorrows. The problem with clichés, they are put together with little personal insight or philosophic [intelligent] thought.”
There was nothing wrong about my initial response it was straight to the point. However, I did not consider all of what is involved in a person sending another person a clichéd message.
First, using someone else’s clichéd message is unoriginal—someone else wrote it. If you wish me to consider your opinion on a matter, as your heartfelt sentiment, then use your words. If you cannot find the correct words to lovingly express yourself, if that is indeed your intention, then perhaps the message should not be sent. After all, if you do not have something nice to say, why do you say it at all—question your intentions.
Second, know someone before you assume how he or she may feel about your messages and how they might respond. You may send a message you think is funny and be sending the ultimate insult or the most painful message, which may not be what you intended (case in point, my friend who received the message from his college friend!).
Lastly, read what you are sending and consider all the implications of the message. Sending a message of “God is Love” to a Muslim or an Atheist is an insult and it goes against what they believe. If others respect your position of “God is Love”, or whatever other position you desire to plaster your social network page with, respect their feelings, unless it is equally suitable for them to send you “God is the Anti-Christ” messages.
Now, to go on to my initial argument—my reaction to the message. I would like to take it step-by-step.
“The past should be left in the past,” is an argument that has been going on since there has been a past… day two! The message Jesus brought from each of his teachings in the New Testament can be traced directly to the Old Testament—every single word He spoke. Did anyone say to Jesus, “Hey, Jesus, it’s about time you let go of the past already!” No they did not. Why? Because the people and Jesus realized the importance of the past, what it meant to the people of Israel, and to the future of the church.
In Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. King repeatedly recalls and refers to the past oppression of African-Americans. Not one person said, “Hey Dr. King. That was in the past, the future is ahead of you. Let it go!” Why not? Because, Dr. King, and all African-Americans throughout history would not have a valid point had there not been a history of oppression—a past.
Time itself has a past, which cannot altered or forgotten. Our past is who we are. We have been a part of this time in history. For reasons beyond our understanding, our presence on earth, now, is an important element in the fabric of time. To “leave” it behind and forget about it would be to forget the importance and the quality of our being altogether. I can assume, based on my own experiences, those who are willing to ignore their past and forget it ever existed are people who have something worth forgetting. Perhaps they have something that would incriminate them or something so painful they desire to suppress it. Your past is not forgotten. You may find a way to run from it or hide from it, if that’s what works for you, so be it, who am I to judge. However, I choose not to run and hide.
For people who judge others based on their past, God save you! You are the worst culprits of all. For the most part life deals its cards. What an individual does with his or her decision-making is based on the cards he or she had been dealt. Just because you had a pair of pocket Aces, does not mean you are any better of a person than the person who was dealt a Jack and a Queen. Later in life that Jack and Queen may just turn out to be a Straight and beat your pocket Aces. It’s all in how the cards fall and until the last card falls, it’s anybody’s game!
The next sentiment of the message is, “it can destroy your future.” This is essentially a brainless statement. It will only “destroy your future” if you allow it to “destroy your future”. You are the one who is in control of your future. On the same token, if you decide to remain stuck, because of the hold the past has on you, that is your responsibility. Do something about it. Make changes. Confront your skeletons and by all means available, move on. There are so many ways an individual can find help in today’s society, there are no excuses for remaining stuck, except for the excuses you make up for yourself. You will never hear me complain about the clothes I wear or the food I eat. Throughout my life, I have gone through many transformations. One of those periods in my life, I was without a home and living on the street. Knowing what it feels like having no home, no food, not being able to use a clean bathroom in a normal humane fashion, and never forgetting the sensation of cold wet concrete for a bed, I cannot find a single reason to complain about clean clothes, a soft bed, a nice bathroom, and a warm meal.
The cliché ends with, “Live life for what tomorrow has to offer, not for what yesterday has taken away.” This is a very presumptuous statement. In the first place, the author of this cliché assumes there will be a tomorrow and since the person reading the message has received it then he or she will be around to enjoy what tomorrow has to offer. In my book, the author is very close to committing blasphemy, stating a claim only the Supreme Being of the Universe—God—has the knowledge and control over.
You may say, “You’re reading too much into it.” Well, I would have to respond, “Then perhaps you are reading too much into the first half of the cliché.” I do not pick and choose what is to be taken seriously and what is BS. If it is BS then it is all BS, if it is to be taken seriously, then it is all to be taken seriously. That is one of the problems with clichés and people, we tend to pick and choose what fits our personal agenda. That is a backwards mindless self-aggrandizing concept.
Finally, what gives anyone the right to instruct, prod, or otherwise encourage, anyone else to “let go” unless he or she has been asked to give his or her opinion on the matter? Get a grip on life and concern yourself with you! Should an individual forget all about his or her past, or just some select portions of the past? Who decides what portions of the past are important to whom and by what measure? Get rid of the good past too or just what someone else may consider as the bad past? Who decides what is “good” past and what is determined as “bad” past. Is one persons past identical with the other persons past? Unless conjoined twins with identical past are involved identical past are not in existence, no matter how close you were to that sibling. If the other individual is allowing you the space and the respect to live with your past, then give him or her the same space and the respect they deserve. If he or she is willing to allow you to forget your past, respect him or her enough to allow them the privilege of accepting their past, and move on with your life.
Do not act out of a self-centered personal bias lens unless you have been exactly where the recipient of your comments and remarks have been, unless you have been with him or her every minute of every day of their lives and you know every detail of their lives. Otherwise, your act may be viewed as nothing more than a thoughtless, uncaring, and mindless act by a Class One Arrogant Duke or Duchess of Defecation. However, I am sure if you lose a friend along the way or a family member decides to disown you because you figured, “ah, what the hell, I’ll send it anyway. It’s just a harmless cliché, a cute little picture that will let him or her know they are wrong,” I am confident you will be able to put them in the rearview mirror and leave them behind you too!