I recently realized that an old coworker of mine probably hates my guts. The evidence, I admit, is circumstantial but compelling. In the interest of anonymity I will not go into any further details, except to say that this coworker is someone that I hold in high regard, which means that I'm completely heartbroken over the matter. I'm pretty sure that there are a lot of bad, annoying, and/or disgusting people out there who think of me as the bane of their existence, and that kind of hatred doesn't really bother me. But when good, honest, and decent people hold me in contempt, I have a sudden urge to crawl under a rock and wither away.
I suppose that the level of goodness in the person shouldn't really be a factor in how I respond to this kind of stuff at all, since I am after all only a human being who uses fairly superficial means to determine how "good" a fellow mortal is. I guess that the reason that "goodness" matters to me has something to do with the fact that "bad" people give me the opportunity to shift the blame away from myself. After all, they're probably just the kind of people who would hate me no matter what I do in an attempt to distract themselves from facing their own miserable consequences to the horrible ways they led their lives. Bad equals them equals guilty.
If a good person hates me though, I'm completely trapped. Not only does that loathing have to be a result of something I did, but whatever I did must have been pretty darn awful, as good people only get upset when they have really good reasons, right? I might be able to justify (read: rationalize) doing something to offend a bad person, but I'm the kind of person who works hard to be good, so I'm not about to go around purposefully ruining the lives of people who don't even deserve what's coming to them.
In fact, since I'm the kind of person who tries really hard to always be polite and friendly, I've decided that there are only two* ways that I can actually cause offense in others (offense here meaning whatever make them hate my guts):
1. They are too easily offended
2. I'm stupid
Now, Gentle Reader, as you can see there is still one option that places the blame on others and one that places the blame squarely on me. Option one leads back to my previous argument about bad people, and the other is, I think, the only way a person who tries to be good could manage to offend good people. The problem with this, of course, that I don't think that there's much I can do in the short term to stop being stupid. I mean, I've been working on decreasing my stupidity since first grade (isn't that the objective of juvenile education?), and after all this time I've still got a long way to go. Does this mean that I'm going to go on for the rest of my life unintentionally offending those I most respect until I can manage to lower my stupidity to an acceptable level? I certainly hope not, and I certainly hope that former coworker of mine can find it in his or her heart to forgive my stupidity, because I know that in this specific case the offense was completely unintentional.
I guess I should just be more careful about the things I let slip out of my mouth in the first place.
Best wishes, regards, and forgiveness,
*I almost put in misunderstandings as a third option, but I think that a misunderstanding in this case would have to be a result of either number one or number two.