In the subtitle of the book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”, we read the real truth of the book – “And it’s All Small Stuff”. I haven’t read the book, but I admit that I love the idea of the book. The chapter titles suggest subjects that encourage us to make peace with imperfection, let others have the glory, and accept that life just isn’t fair. The subject matter in the book could definitely be characterized as small stuff, but I’d like to share with you some thoughts about things that we may treat as small stuff as long as they happen to someone else.
I am by no means saying that we react to all these things all the time with a nonchalant attitude, but sadly, I’ve recognized it in myself at times and in others around me. Please share your opinion about the following:
- Is divorce small stuff?
- Is childhood abuse minuscule?
- Would you consider adultery a tiny thing?
- How about a miscarriage?
- Menopause – believe me I wish that was a small-sweating-stuff thing-y.
- Moving to a new city?
- Death in the family?
Do we think of everything as small stuff these days? Do we expect others to handle things in their lives as if everything they face is small stuff? Do we now think that when a death in the family happens that someone else will send the card, the flowers, attend the funeral? Visit once the loneliness sets in?
What about when a friend is going through a divorce? They’ll get over it in time, right? If one of the parties was cheated on, then, sooner or later they will trust again. If their finances have been ruined, they’ll just work hard and recover soon enough. If their heart is broken, “time heals all wounds,” so just wait and you’ll feel better.
A young girl is abused by her stepmother and we just look the other way, because it’s none of our business. That woman will get her “due” one day. Saving family reputation is more important than making a spectacle.
A woman loses a baby and she’s told you can try again soon.
Another woman bursts into flames and everyone around her sloughs it off – Oh, she’s just having a hot flash!
The moving company unloads all the furnishings into a new house and the neighbors watch, thinking “one day soon, I’ll go over and welcome them to the neighborhood. But, for now I need to finish my laundry, and prepare our dinner.”
A neighborhood mom is diagnosed with cancer and people assume that the church will help out or that dad will order pizza.
A friend’s son is committed to rehab for drug abuse and somehow it’s the parents fault. Surely there is something they could have done to prevent the child from turning to drugs in the first place.
We’ve become accustomed to “taking care of ourselves” and not doing so shows some form of weakness. Our definition of “reaching out” to others is to send a text, an email or as we saw on Seinfeld as a joke, the token phone call made in route to some seemingly more important destination. I heard a quote recently that seems fitting for this affliction we may be developing as a society. “A person is never more righteous, than when they’ve been caught doing something wrong.”
When we are wrong, we begin to make excuses for our behavior immediately. It is someone else’s fault. We defend our children whether right or wrong, and do them a huge injustice by doing so. We’ve forgotten what the word responsibility means. Instead we’ve taken the attitude that we are not our “brothers keeper.”
William Bennett in his book, “The Book of Virtues”, defines the word responsibility as follows, “to respond with an answer; therefore to be responsible is to be answerable, accountable.” Mr. Bennett also says that it is a sign of maturity to take responsibility for our actions. If that’s the case, then have we lost the ability as a society to mature into responsible adults? Bennett also says that “responsible persons are mature people who have taken charge of themselves and their conduct, who own their actions and answer for them.”
It is this writer’s opinion that respons-ability is not a small thing. Our choices make it a really big thing. Will we teach maturity to those looking up to us, by allowing them to face their own consequences? And will we as adults, show more maturity by realizing that it is our responsibility to react to the heartaches our friends and family may be going through with appropriate actions?
So tell me, am I sweating the small stuff here? I can occasionally see in myself the immaturity of not “answering” to the needs of my fellow man, with an excuse that I’m just living my life, I’m not as nice as I was before menopause and the old standby… I’m taking care of my own family.
What are your thoughts?