This will probably be short, else I risk sounding preachy. But I've been silent for a few weeks because life got in the way and it has reminded me if a simple lesson.
"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." It's attributed to Ian Maclaren, but motivational posters abound. I prefer an extended version: "Be kind, for everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about."
I have a secret. Perhaps some of those who read this will know what I'm referring to, but they will be few. It's not important what the secret is. I'm almost back to normal (or at least what I consider my normal) but, for one week, I have carried my secret around. I have been pretending to be fine this week.
I was chatting with a friend who struggles with chronic pain and depression. We got to talking about how little we know about the people around us. It's part of our culture to ask "How are you?" but then the "correct" answer is "good" or "fine," even if it's a lie. We ask, but we don't expect anyone to answer honestly. Why even ask?
Because it's polite.
And why do we lie in our answer? Those who are suffering do not wish to burden others. Why discuss how much your disease makes you hurt today? Or how terrible of a day you've had? Why complain when the person in front of you cannot help?
I don't expect people to change that cultural habit. I'll still say "okay" when someone asked the inevitable "How are you?" but I want people to remember to be patient with others. You do not know what another person's secret is.
"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
D. Lambert, author
Fantasy novels that entice, inspire, and entertain.