Doing the moral thing sometimes means letting things go

My son is 13. He has friends in school and kids that he doesn’t like too much. Like any normal kid.

The other night he told me that one of the “mean girls” in his physical elective was hassling him about something and was asking him questions and he plead the 5th and refused to answer.

She responded, you mean the 15th Amendment. Ummmm, no. The 5th. She was insistent it was the 15th and her friend backed her up.

My son competes in history bowl and is competitive against high school seniors. People getting their history wrong, really bugs him. And the entire exchange was pretty pointless and silly. This girl attempted to harass him, and failed and made herself look bad in the process.

In the locker room the other boys were discussing how stupid this girl is because she didn’t know the 5th Amendment from the 15th. Dissing someone isn’t very nice – even if they publicly displayed their ignorance as proudly as she did.

My son’s dilemma is that he really wanted to tell her she was wrong next time he sees her.

I asked him what that would accomplish. He said it would make him feel good to correct her. I asked him how it would make her feel. He stared at me. Hadn’t considered that. She would probably feel bad.

What would making her feel bad accomplish? He knows he’s right and she’s wrong. Everyone else in the class knows my son was right and she was wrong.

The only reason my son wanted to correct her – was to make himself feel better at her expense. She had already harmed herself by attempting to make my son look stupid. Adding to her misery would just be adding to her problems whatever they are. Correcting her publicly would not change how other people saw her – but it might make my son look pretty petty. In other words, this was a battle, that was not worth fighting. This girls deserves his compassion. She does not deserve ridicule.

Taking a compassionate approach

The nice thing about taking a compassionate approach to the bullies of the world is that it is not just the moral thing to do. It helps you be a better person. Bullies do enough damage to themselves. It’s cruel to hurt them more. All that does is make you a bully too.

If someone is set on digging themselves into a hole, you really do not need to help them. You can encourage them to NOT dig that hole as my son did when he corrected her the first time. But if they are set on digging that hole, as this girl was – let it go. Sometimes you win by not fighting.

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