I don’t take a political point of view. My advice blog is not going to tell someone who to vote for or how to decide issues in any particular country. I am more interested in advising people on how to be good people to each other and themselves. My father in law, Orazio, used to say, “Be gentle people.” And he was right. Not to say that Orazio wasn’t a tiger when it came to defending his family or himself when people crossed boundaries and showed a lack of respect. But mostly Orazio had a simple philosophy which I adopted too, live and let live. I take no interest in people’s personal decisions that only affect them. I do not care what religion you subscribe to, as long as you don’t use it to discredit others and discriminate against others. I don’t care if you are gay or straight, but I do expect you to comport yourself with dignity and respect for others, particularly those who have chosen to be in monogamous, happy relationships. I believe in equality for all people and a moral responsibility to each other. I believe that some people should agree to disagree because there are some things people will never agree on.
Basically, I believe in the Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I believe selfishness is the defense mechanism of small minded people who refuse to see the other side of issues. If you can’t relate to it, how can you possibly understand it?
One could relate all of the above to politics, but more important than politics are relationships. I frankly find the world has become more selfish and narrow minded rather than open minded. With all the information out there, people seem to want to cling to their bubble rather than try to understand the other side of anything they do not understand or like. This causes a sense of indignant, self entitled behavior that loses all sense of perspective, empathy and compassion for anything other that one’s own concerns.
There are times as a friend when seeing the other side is necessary. Among spouses, it is not only necessary, it is also a required element of a successful marriage. Regardless of your issue or problem, it is always important to try to see the other person’s side of things and be honest and willing to work things out rather than cling to a principal of right or wrong.
I have often counseled my daughters when dealing with friends to do just that. Even when the friend’s issue was petty, I advise them to acknowledge it and show some understanding that they are hurt and that you did not intend the hurt. At that time, it is the friend’s duty to do the same if the friend wishes to repair the rift. However, a small minded friend will not do that. She or he will either ignore you, a passive aggressive form of Vaffanculo (fuck you) or she/he will simply respond only dealing with her/his hurt and disregard your acknowledgement or need for theirs.
This person not only has a small mind, but also a small heart. I do not recommend continuing a close relationship with this person at all.
Recently Veronica and Federica each had issues with a friend. Federica followed my advice, and the friend who had blown things out of proportion, realized that Federica cared, had always cared for her for years and perhaps this was all a grand misunderstanding. She wisely chose to put an end to the drama and not only thank Federica for understanding, but also apologized for getting so worked up about it. That is a friend worth keeping, one who is not only mature enough to resolve things reasonably but also one who really valued the overall friendship enough to see the big picture.
Veronica did not fare so well. Veronica’s friend, who has a history of blowing things out of proportion and a hard time seeing anyone else’s feelings but her own, recently laid down the ominous text message of, “we need to talk.” This is usually most people’s code for, “I am about to make a big drama out of something, and you had better give me what I want out of it or else!” Anyone who truly wants to work it out would not take that tack. It is certainly not advisable because it puts people on the defensive instead of in a receptive frame of mind.
Veronica had an unusually difficult couple of weeks in addition to financial problems. I was so worried about her, I had threatened to get on a plane from Sicily and visit because I felt she needed TLC. Her nerves were raw and she was genuinely scared for the outcome of a deeply personal and difficult odyssey that had been part of her life now for some years.
Veronica wrote this friend an email explaining just that. She also cited that she was aware her friend was obviously unhappy with their last couple of conversations. She asked her friend to please be understanding as it wasn’t a good time to talk about it, and that she certainly meant no harm or offense. Knowing that this girl has a penchance for drama, she asked her to put it in perspective as well.
I maintain after this incident that this girl wouldn’t know perspective if it hit her in the face. This is the same girl who called Veronica during the lead up to her wedding with one drama after another, some worth getting upset over, but many totally self created. She once called Veronica hysterically crying because her Aunt was taking a cruise on the same cruise line three weeks after the girl and her husband to be were going on their honeymoon. “My honeymoon is ruined! It’s not going to be special because she is going on the same cruise!” she complained.
It’s not like it was the same boat!! Who cares? Why was she being competitive about it and who could possibly compete with a honeymoon? Talk about spoiled and entitled! Even Veronica’s patience wore thin on that one. But Veronica realized she was stressed from planning the wedding and just tried to calm her down. She explained that a honeymoon is special because of the two people involved and nothing else matters. Where her Aunt vacations is irrelevant and will never be as special as her honeymoon.
Seriously? Isn’t that kind of obvious! She calmed down but continued to complain and constantly compete with her Aunt, “We know the Captain, and he invited us to his table. I told his wife not to be so generous to my Aunt.” Veronica shook her head and told her that she shouldn’t bother even thinking about it, but that fell deaf ears.
Veronica worried that some day, this girl might turn on her and create a drama over some minutia. I told Veronica that if she does it with others, that Veronica would not be immune either. Eventually the day came…and after the girl’s summons by text, “We need to talk”, Veronica painstakingly wrote an email to try to smooth things over and explain that she herself was going through a difficult time, that she was scared and that she was worn out by it all. This girl did not have the decency to even respond. At the very least, as a friend who cared, she owed Veronica a reply that acknowledged Veronica’s attempt to smooth things over, Veronica’s situation and an ounce of empathy for it.
Ten days later, still nothing. Veronica became indignant at this passive aggressive and punitive behavior, and rightly so. She let this girl know that after all the times she listed to her dramas and showed empathy, the fact that she had not responded showed a total lack of empathy. She deeply hurt Veronica acting as if she did not care. Finally the girl responded to this only to acknowledge Veronica’s situation as a reason why Veronica should not have done blah blah blah, which amounted to that fact that this girl felt in their last conversations that Veronica had acted as if only her opinions mattered. Veramente? (Really?) Chi se ne frega! (Who gives a shit!)
Could she be more petty and over focused on only her feelings? Here Veronica was facing a possibly bankruptcy due to a drawn out legal battle, and this girl was busting her chops saying, “You think only your opinions matter, and that doesn’t sit right with me.” Veronica had already tried to smooth things over, shown humility and practically begged her to be understanding. She apparently did not want to be understanding. She just wanted to be right.
She proved to have a small mind and an even smaller heart.
Veronica, so injured by this response, had it. “Mama, if I can’t ask her to put her petty differences aside and just be a friend at this moment in my life, when could I? Never! So, I just told her we should take a break. I deleted her from my Facebook and deleted her from my life! Basta!!”
The girl of course, had to one up her. She blocked her on Facebook and then wrote a little jab on her blog about Hollywood people being egotistical, clearly a jab at Veronica who is a writer. I find that ironic since it was this girl’s ego who made such a mess of things. Her sense of self entitlement and need for ego fluffing was as big as any ego maniacal Hollywood stereotype. And it cost her a good friend. Che Stronza!
Being Sicilian, and a Mama, I just can’t let it go. Maybe she’ll read this and get some perspective. Maybe she won’t. Maybe she’ll figure it out one day. Maybe she won’t. But perhaps you can learn something from this. Assess the situation and if someone is going through a lot of stress and hell, cut them a break. And if someone routinely expects you to cut them a break and won’t do it for you in return, cut them out!