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The unintentional wound

Huzaima Bukhari

People hurt each other. It happens to everyone. Intentionally, unintentionally, regretfully or not. It’s a part of what we do as people. The beauty is that we have the ability to heal and forgive―Adi Alsaid (Mexican novelist)

When two persons interact, clashes are bound to occur, especially if both are emotionally charged. This is quite natural! At times it becomes difficult to see eye to eye or share the same level of perception which can lead to differences, which can ensue in disputes, which can ultimately erupt in arguments or even physical struggle, which of course means there will be a volley of words and punches resulting in wounds to the body and soul. Bodily injuries will eventually heal but those of the soul may linger on for the remaining life unless one causing injury is forgiven, never to be reminded again of the insult.

There are in the world some people who love to hurt others. They do it intentionally because it gives them a very grotesque form of pleasure. Nothing gives them more joy than to see the expression on the face of their victims grimacing from their offensive moves or speech. According to encyclopedia Britannica, the term ‘sadism’ that is a form of psycho-sexual disorder was coined by the late nineteenth century German psychologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing in reference to Marquis de Sade, an eighteenth century French nobleman who chronicled his own practices of deriving sexual pleasures by inflicting pain on others. However, outside this context, sadism is used to allude to persons who deliberately employ humiliating sarcasm as a conversational tool where their main purpose is to effectuate their domination in social situations. They are totally oblivious to the hurt they cause to others’ esteem or self-respect.

Then there are those whose objective may not be to consciously hurt anyone’s feelings but in the heat of the moment, they may inadvertently end up upsetting a handful in the group. They just do it out of fun and amusement Now those few can either respond insolently, appalling the offenders since they are caught unawares creating quite an embarrassing moment; or might end up harbouring resentment to perhaps settle the score in the future. The latter instance points out to the inner feelings of the one hurt as described by Linda Kage in the following words: “It only hurt me—no one else—when I kept a grudge against someone for an unintentional hurt they’d caused” implying that an unintended wound should merely be ignored rather than be nursed unnecessarily.

As far as they, who unintentionally inflict hurt on someone are concerned, they may repent their act if they are people of conscience. In fact, the minute they realize their slip they may possibly do everything in their power to atone for their mistake as explained by Sanhita Baruah, author of The Art of Letting Go: “One can simply never take back the words he spoke. And when you know you unintentionally did hurt someone, instead of letting it go or keeping a distance from that person, you can actually do something to mend the broken. That’s the least we can do, when circumstances never are on our side; we can stick to our words and promises even if people change and fate ruins.”

This just means that in order to compensate for the inadvertent fault, one needs to forgive oneself first and then instead of avoiding the injured parties, one must courageously face them in order to provide an explanation and seek forgiveness. Remaining at a distance only multiplies the intensity of the pain and misunderstanding. In severe cases, it can also lead to development of negative ideas that can culminate in heartburn generating causes for mental and physical diseases for both the unassuming assailant and the innocent target. The best remedy is to resolve these delusions as early as possible to circumvent chances of escalated misapprehensions.

Even the so-called ‘candid camera’ pranks can be devastating for the feeble. Reactions seen on different videos are quite shocking at times for the audience as well as for the unsuspecting dupes who may later on curse themselves for being too vicious over some innocent joke. Just for laughter is one thing, but to make another person scapegoat for temporary gain, is something else. Merriment should not be at the expense of someone’s pride. We usually tend to chuckle when watching another slipping on the ice, tripping on the pavement, getting soaked in the rain, farting in public, or behaving like clowns unless they are performers but we refrain from telling someone about the biscuit crumbs stuck on their mouth or the lipstick on their teeth or the unruly collar they forgot to straighten. How much embarrassment can be avoided if these people are subtly made aware but fearing they might not like it, we abstain from informing them.

In the end, one must always remember to be cautious in approach when making small talk in a gathering or communicating with someone lest one’s remarks directly hit the sensitivity of the listeners inflicting unintentional wounds that may later on become malignant for both the speaker and the listener. For comic relief from such a morbid subject, Margaret Atwood’s quote seems a bit cruel but most apt. She writes: “It disturbs me to learn I have hurt someone unintentionally. I want all my hurts to be intentional.”      __________________________________________________________________________

The writer, lawyer and author, is an Adjunct Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), member Advisory Board and Senior Visiting Fellow of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE)

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