I am a member of a group that recently called for election of new officers. The previous officers had been serving for 2 and 3 years respectively and it was time for new leaders. I am one of the founding members of this group so it fell to me to bring it up that we needed to begin the process of selecting new officers.
One of the old officers was not happy about having to give up her position and every meeting that we have had for the last 5 months has been about delaying the inevitable vote and decision of the group about having new officers.
Every meeting, I would tell myself that this was important to the autonomy of the whole group that we have new officers without one person dominating the group. And then when the hostility and anger was directed at me, I would want to say “this is all my fault, I started it, I take it back.”
I had several friends that were also a part of the meeting and they would remind me that for the sake of the group, choice was important. They reminded me not to take personally things that were being said and done.
One friend sent me the story about Buddha and the gift. It is a story about a man who comes to see Buddha and gets agitated. He begins to curse and yell at Buddha. Buddha sitst calmly and remains guqiet iet. At some point the man calms down enough to ask Buddha why he didn’t respond to the man.
The Buddha replies that “if someone offers you a gift and you do not accept it, to whom does the gift belong?” The answer is that the gift belongs to the person offering it. If the gift is not accepted, the gift continues to belong to the person offering the gift.
Anger, hostility and abuse can be considered an offering or a gift if you will.
Learning that I have a clear choice about how I deal with someone elses feelings is a freedom. I can choose not to be victim. It doesn’t erase the pain or the damage but it sure does lessen the damage if I choose not to accept the gift.
The only real winner in this situation is the process and the group. I had accepted that whatever the group decided was going to be ok with me. If the group had decided to allow her to remain an officer for another year, then that is what a democracy and majority rule is about.
The group voted by a narrow margin to start with all new officers. The angry person did not show for the last meeting and she has not responded to anyone’s reaching out to her. Sadly she has seemingly cut herself off from the process.
Being willing to confront has always been my biggest weakness. I see now though that standing up for what I believe doesn’t make or break me but it does give me some esteem. I am worth speaking up.