Something had triggered their angst and they spared no punches in expressing themselves for reasons known only to them. After all said and done, the consternation caused by the exchanges was not warranted and totally misplaced, in my mind. I can only speculate on the timing of the reactions. I did not stoop to disrespectful retorts, although I did allude to the potential for libel in what was being said to me.
One male respondent, not fully familiar with the background of the issue, attempted to inject a little humour into the dialogue by saying that I was being "redickulous".
Eventually the moderator of the site cut off discussion(?) on the subject and deleted "heated" comments that were not in keeping with the spirit of the group. She questioned why I always found it necessary to have the last word -- "even when I think I am right." I'm still trying to wrap my mind around that one.
Something about that unpleasant experience penetrated my normally thick skin. My convictions had been tested. I was offended, frustrated and angered. My immediate response was to entirely cut myself off from Internet connection with the group. I even wiped out an entire web site dealing with fond recollections of my hometown (Dresden, ON) which represented years of work and personal passionate reflections...Gone with one click of a computer key -- never to be recovered. A knee-jerk reaction, perhaps. A mistake, maybe. I just wanted to distance myself from it all and erasing a previous labour of love was one way of doing it.
I kept replaying the scenario in my mind for many days and nights. Why was I not being understood? Why did I feel so terrible? Why could I not let go of the matter? Was I wrong to have had the courage of my convictions? For all intents and purposes, I was allowing resultant depression to rob me of passion and joy in my everyday life. Funny how things like that can fester and magnify if you let them.
Ultimately I found the following to be of great assistance in rationalizing this dark, nightmarish moment in my life. I know that there will be those who can relate.
"Do not hurry yourself in your spirit to become offended, for the taking of offense is what rests in the bosom of the stupid ones." Ecclesiastes 7:9 (Online Bible)
There are times when you aim to help others and people impute other ulterior motives. This can be very distressing. In 1 Chronicles 19:1-19 we read that when Nahush the King of the Ammonites died, David decided to reciprocate the kindness he had shown him and sent a delegation to his son Hanun to convey his condolences. However Hanun listened to his advisers who told him that David’s envoys had come to explore and spy out the country so that they could overthrow it. “So Hanun seized David’s envoys, shaved them, cut off their garments at the buttocks, and sent them away (verse 4)." As a result of this misunderstanding war was declared and more than fifty seven thousand people died.
Many relationships break because of misunderstandings: family, marriages, friendships and alliances/groups.
When others misunderstand, we should seek an opportunity to explain and make amends. However, this is not always possible. You cannot force people to understand you. If they put themselves in your place they might understand, but many people are led by their preconceived notions about you and selfish regard for themselves. Sometimes they have hidden motives and were looking for an excuse to blame you. Their experiences may also not have opened them up to understand or sympathize with your position.
Do not be unduly worried that you are misunderstood. Do your best. It is only important that God understands. Jesus’ message is plain and simple yet many people misunderstand it. If they listen with a discerning heart instead of closed minds, they will understand it but it is their choice, Jesus does not force. “When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted himself to Him who judges justly.”
When others misunderstand, we should always leave a door open so that people can explain their side of the story if they feel inclined to do so. Sometimes people are hot tempered and judge hastily. In Joshua 22:10-34 we read that some tribes of Israel built an imposing altar which others mistook for an idol and wanted to cause war with them, lest God’s curse fall on them all. However they sought for an explanation first and were pleased that the building was only a monument so that future generations could be reminded of God’s goodness.
When you are misunderstood remember also that you are not perfect and may have misunderstood others many times, and deemed them evil when they had only good intentions towards you.
God calls us to forgive others without any reservations. This is also for our own good because bitterness destroys the soul.
I pray that the foregoing helps others who may find themselves involved in similar misunderstandings as they "communicate" with friends or foes.
CLOSING NOTE: Earlier this week I posted an apology on the virtual history group site, not for wanting the last word but to those who felt that I had been overly critical in the past (I always thought that I was being constructive, but...). With time for the air to clear, I also offered one last rational explanation for my position on the subject of a century of racial discrimination in Dresden and why I originally responded the way I did. To date, five members of the virtual history group have "liked" my post while 190 remain silent. Happily, no "dislikes" -- yet.
Admittedly, my contributions to Dresden nostalgia had pretty much run their course. While this incident has tainted intense fond memories of my hometown and involvement in its virtual history, I refuse to let it curtail my sense of mission and commitment to passing on self-expressions and tidbits of human interest through my own web site, for what they are worth. I especially enjoy the exchange of pleasantries with true blue "friends" on Facebook...That's what it should be all about anyway. It would be wrong to allow a bad experience to deprive me of that.
Not one of my more popular posts, I am sure, but this too is reality.
**************"People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway."