I am writing a more personal post this week. I watched the movie Emma and was struck by her lack of self-awareness. This of course is the theme around which the story revolves. I’ve been doing some soul searching. How unaware am I of the impact of my words?
The movie was timely as I was just brought up short by someone who corrected me with what I am to consider as a ‘loving rebuke from a brother.’
Rebukes are those double-edged swords. They can wound and heal or they can destroy. In the movie Mr. Knightley soundly rebukes Emma for her insensitive remarks to Mrs. Bates.
Mr. Churchill initiated a game requiring everyone to say three very foolish things. Laughing, Mrs. Bates self-deprecatingly says she is sure to say several foolish things if she opens her mouth. Emma then responds that the difficulty for Mrs. Bates would be to limit herself to three things.
So simply and beautifully done by Jane Austin.
Emma has mis-stepped before, but how her character flaw is laid bare before her friends. Mrs. Bates fumbles a little and mutters, “I see. I see….I will try and hold my tongue. I must make myself very disagreeable, or she would not have said such a thing.”
Emma changes when the full impact of her actions dawns on her. She heeds Mr. Knightly’s rebuke, as spoken by someone who cares.
Mr. Knightley points out that Mrs. Bates is below Emma’s station in life and will continue to sink and this is why Emma’s behaviour is so disgraceful. He reminds Emma that Mrs. Bates has known her since infancy and that when she was younger “her notice of you was an honour.” He says others will take their lead from her in their view of Mrs. Bates. To her credit, Emma comes to deeply regret her words and determines to make amends.
Wounds that heal. Mr. Knightley is greatly relieved to see that he has not ruined his chances with Emma, and that deep down her character was what he hoped, not what he feared.
I watched a brief clip by Jordan Peterson in which he says, you don’t want a partner who will just pat you on the head; you want someone who will push you towards who you could be.
As authors and journalists, we have to hold ourselves to a gold standard that refuses to stoop to ridicule and chooses to see the world as it “could be.”
Comedians have recently come under fire. While I agree with the importance of having the liberty of free speech, I’ve been of the opinion that a good comedian makes us laugh, collectively, at ourselves, our lives and the dilemmas we face. ‘Collectively’ is the key word here. We may be embarrassed but we can laugh at ourselves without feeling we are a target.
It’s easy to go with the flow, and laugh even when we know something is hurtful to someone. There is a verse in the Bible that says, “Better are the wounds of a friend than the kisses of the enemy.” Do we really want the approval of the enemy? A true friend looks for fairness to all and is guided by kindness, while an enemy harbours malice.
I found a saying when I was young that went like this, “A fool convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” Someone who does not like you when you are real will not like you if you fake it to go along with them, either. You become subservient when another can make you change outwardly and your outward behaviour no longer matches your inner convictions.
There is tremendous power in words to wound. There is also power to influence others for good or evil. It is much easier to tear down than it is to build.
In today’s society trashing a person’s life seems to be some sort of sadistic sport: Let’s see whose life we can destroy this week.
In Canada thousands of caregivers risked their lives during the worst part of the pandemic and have now lost their jobs, on top of it all, due to vaccine mandates. Some provinces have decided against firing health workers as we approach the “endemic,” and the journalistic response has been disturbing. Chris Selley covered the surprising attitude in a recent article entitled, Canadians are enjoying firing the unvaccinated far too much.
Kudos to our local school boards and unions who have decided to continue business as usual rather than lose teachers.
I’ve led a sheltered life and cruelty always comes as a shock to me. It may be because I’ve stayed off Twitter. (Smile.) The real reason why I am not on Twitter is because of how much of my valuable time it would consume. But there is another reason. I would find it too hard to resist firing off those zingers in the moment. I need a Mr. Knightly in my life to hold me to a higher standard.