When my family moved to New Orleans three years ago, we learned quickly not to spend too much time watching the news. It was just too depressing. Everyday, it seemed, a murder of some sort was reported in the metro area. One in particular stood out, and stopped us from watching the local news completely.
There was a drive-by shooting. A couple of young men drove by a house, the house of someone they knew…someone that at one point was a friend, but they had had a falling out. The shooters shot into the house, peppering it with bullets. Most of the residents in the house survived with non-lethal injuries. One did not.
A six year old boy had just gone to bed. His room faced the street. He didn’t know to hit the ground when the gunshots rang out. He had nothing to do with the argument between the astranged friends. He was an innocent.
And that night a bullet hit him in the head.
I’ll never forget that story. I don’t even know that boy’s name. But it made me realize how quickly people are to ignore the innocents surrounding them. In their blind anger, tunnel-visioned fury, they destroy much more than they ever intended. Once it’s destroyed, it cannot come back.
How careless can we be with our words? Striking out at others in passive aggressive ways, tearing each other down, and shoving the faces of former friends into the dirt, all the while wearing the smile of good intentions or carrying our sword of righteous indignation or calling it good natured debate.
And what we don’t realize…what we don’t see…are the innocents that get caught up, torn down, and shoved into the dirt at the same time.
What are we doing with our selfish need to be right? What are we doing with our crusade to prove others wrong? What are we doing with our dogmatic drive to be better, more successful, more powerful, more popular, or be the king of the mountain? What are we doing? We’re losing our real friends who stand by watching us destroy people they love as much as they love us.
A friend came to me seeking advice. She’s upset. She’s hurt. And she’s never spoken a cross word to anyone that I know of. She has friends on the one hand and friends on the other. Friends who are attacking each other and tearing each other down in the subtle passive aggressive way that only writers can do. She’s watching these friends acting like petty children, trying to get their way by proving the other wrong, or making themselves sound like the more mature and bigger person. Her “friends” are slowly destroying their friendship with her. How can she maintain peace with friends who can’t stand one another?
And to top it all off, some of these friends are starting to push away from her because she won’t distance herself from the other friends. She’s being pulled in two. And she hates it.
Here I am. Friends with ALL of them. Hanging out on the sideline. Watching them tear each other down. Watching them draw and quarter another soft-spoken friend who only wants to create peace.
And I say ENOUGH!
Stop it. Please just stop it. Your words between each other are hurting your innocent friends. Your snide battle is causing deeper trenches than you realize. Stop being petty. Stop trying to be right. And go mend the friendships you’re messing up.
Don’t be that drive-by shooter. Consider the innocents before you fire.