Decades ago, “rules” of daily living were much more explicit. People knew what the general consensus was around sex (only if you love the person or not until married), religion (go to church every week or you go to hell), drugs (just say no), treat others with kindness (do unto others as you would have others do unto you), etc. Regardless of whether you agreed with them or not, most people tried to follow them or at least hiding it if they weren’t following the “rules.
Today, in 2016, things are much more complicated. We live in a world now where almost anything goes. There are affair sites—for married people (I won’t even begin to discuss the harmfulness of this!), drugs are becoming legalized in more and more states, porn is so readily accessible that an 8-year-old can accidently (or purposefully) happen upon it, and on and on.
Many people cheer these “freedoms,” while others are repelled by them. Either way, though, with the blurring of “rules” comes a lack of clarity to know right from wrong, integrity versus lack of integrity, and values versus lack of values. Many things previously seen as harmful are now excused, accepted or even encouraged under the alibi of “everyone’s doing it.” And the truth is, many people may actually be doing “it,” regardless of what the “it” is. Here’s the thing though — just because people are doing things doesn’t mean that what they’re doing is okay or harmless (to themselves or to others). Don’t confuse the two issues. I see far too many people excusing the hurtful behavior of those around them under the empty rhetoric of, “Everyone does it” or “Boys will be boys” or “S/he’s stressed—everyone says things they shouldn’t under stress.”
There are a lot of people doing a lot of things that are hurtful—and—just because there are a lot of people being hurtful, doesn’t make those actions any less hurtful. There are a lot of people who respond to stress by becoming reactive and lashing out—and—just because a lot of people do it, doesn’t make it less difficult to be around. When it comes to words people speak and behaviors people engage in, the yardstick should never be about how many people are doing that same thing. The yardstick needs to be Are those words and behaviors hurtful or not? Another way to check out whether or not a behavior is ok is to ask yourself how you would feel if your spouse or loved one did or said this very thing to you. If the answer is that you would be hurt, then no matter how many people are doing it—don’t do it. When we forget about the humanity of those around us, we harm humanity as a whole and we harm our relationships with our loved ones.
Life is about connection, love and relationships. When we lose our way and, instead, make life about satisfying our every whim, “living it up,” and forever trying to feed our urges, we break the very connections that are the undercurrent of humanity.
Challenge: Always remember the hearts of those around you when making daily choices in your life. Refuse to use the pretense of “everyone does it” to give yourself a free pass to harm those around you.