Nothing Personal

When I came across Marcus Aurelius; Meditations, book 11:18, it reminded me of the situation I’m in and the attitude I’ve had to have about it. The mindset I’ve been able to maintain came from my dad. My mom and dad taught me this from a very young age and it’s not only in word but in deed.

My mother was killed by a drunk driver on a motorcycle. She was walking home from the elementary school where she was the PTA president and a substitute teacher.

There were two men on the motorcycle. My dad was a home teacher in the LDS church to the man on the back of the motorcycle. I say man but I don’t think he was much older than 18 years old. I can’t say for sure. I was six years old when this happened and I don’t know all of the details. I do know that this guy was devastated. I’m sure this has affected him to this day. My sister knew the guy who was driving and she said that he didn’t seem remorseful at all. Regardless, my dad forgave them both.

I’m not sure what the law requires regarding a DUI manslaughter case, but my dad didn’t pursue it past what the law required.

Many years later, my grandfather expressed dismay at my dad’s choices at that time. I told him “I disagree with my dad on a lot of things but this is one thing I agree with. My dad was right to forgive.”

In my case, if I’m innocent, that means that not only have my coworkers and management actively retaliated against me and bullied me, but also that I’ve been hacked and my personal photos been distributed and viewed without my consent. Nothing in my life is private. I have a hobby, which I am finally acknowledging I’m pretty good at, and it’s been taken from me. My whole life isn’t my own. Do you know what that is like?

This passage has been my mindset about the situation I’m in for the most part. I’m having a harder time thinking in these terms lately, though, because I’ve given a lot of evidence as to my innocence and nobody seems to even bat an eye.

My patience is wearing thin, and the only reason I can keep my sanity and my hope in regards to the human race is the knowledge that our Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers. I know this, and as my nephew told me in our first discussion:

“…I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” Ether 12:6

I want to forgive and I don’t want to have to take further action but this is my life and I need to be able to move on. I really want to leave this job but I can’t. It’s not out of pride, it’s out of survival and I don’t care whether or not you believe me. I’m sure it’s not personal from your perspective and it’s not personal from mine. We’re all acting out of self preservation, but I’m not going to back down, I’m sorry, I can’t.

 Marcus Aurelius: Meditations, book 11:18

“… How driven are they by their beliefs. How proud they are of what they do.

iii. That if they’re right to do this, then you have no right to complain. And if they aren’t, then they do it involuntarily, out of ignorance. Because all souls are prevented from treating others as they deserve, just as they are kept from the truth: unwillingly. Which is why they resent being called unjust, or arrogant, or greedy- any suggestion that they aren’t good neighbors.

iv. That you’ve made enough mistakes yourself. You’re just like them. Even if there are some you’ve avoided, you have the potential. Even if cowardice has kept you from them. Or fear of what people would say. Or some equally bad reason.

v. That you don’t know for sure it is a mistake. A lot of things are means to some other end. You have to know an awful lot before you can judge other people’s actions with real understanding.

vi. When you lose your temper, or even feel irritated: that human life is very short. Before long all of us will be laid out side by side.

vii. That it’s not what they do that bothers us: that’s a problem for their minds not ours. It’s our own misperceptions. Discard them. Be willing to give up thinking of this as a catastrophe… and your anger is gone. How do you do that? By recognizing that you’ve suffered no disgrace. Unless disgrace is the only thing that can hurt you, you’re doomed to commit innumerable offenses- to become a thief, or heaven only knows what else.

viii. How much more damage anger and grief do than the things that cause them.

ix. That kindness is invincible, provided it’s sincere- not ironic or an act. What can the most vicious person do if you keep treating him with kindness and gently set him straight- if you get the chance- correcting him cheerfully at the exact moment that he’s trying to do you harm. “No, no, my friend. That isn’t what we’re here for. It isn’t me who is harmed by that. It’s you.” And show him gently and without pointing fingers, that it’s so. That bees don’t behave like this- or any other animals with a sense of community. Don’t do it sardonically or meanly, but affectionately- with no hatred in your heart. And not ex cathedra or to impress third parties, but speaking directly. Even if there are other people around.

Keep those nine points in mind, like gifts from the nine Muses, and start becoming a human being. Now and for the rest of your life.

And along with not getting angry at others, yet not to pander either. Both are forms of selfishness; both of them will do you harm. When you start to lose your temper, remember: There’s nothing manly about rage. It’s courtesy and kindness that define a human being- and a man. That’s who possesses strength and nerves and guts, not the angry whiners. To react like that brings you closer to impassivity- and so to strength. Pain is the opposite of strength, and so is anger. Both are things we suffer from and yield to.”

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