I thought my son had left for work, so he surprised me when he bopped into my office. “Don’t worry, Dad. I’m all right, but…” He went on to say that hornets stung him as he opened his car door. He showed me the top of his head to prove the severity of their attack. Their nest, we discovered, hung only inches over where he once stood while getting into his car.
After confirming he was indeed okay, he headed off to work, and I planned what to do. That night as dusk descended, I emptied a can of hornet spray into their nest. They buzzed with anger as the poison killed them. I felt only slight guilt over destroying an entire hive because of what a couple hornets did. After all, it wasn’t a few insects going rogue but the result of an instinct they all bore. Surely, more attacks would follow if I didn’t take decisive action.
Just like the hornets, the things we do can affect those we are aligned with.
Consider the groups, associations, and classes we are part of. If one member does or says something stupid, everyone who is like them can suffer as a result; we are all guilty by association. This includes political parties, religions, ethnic groups, races, movements, companies, clubs, churches, schools, and so forth.
On September 11, 2001, nineteen men committed an act of terrorism. As a result, one billion people “like” them were maligned, distrusted, and threatened. It didn’t matter that these nineteen were radical extremists and not representative of the rest of the group, everyone still suffered.
What about the actions of certain protestors or the antics of militants? Everyone who is part of their cause, whether present or not, becomes viewed through the same lens. Society sees everyone associated with them through negative eyes.
Of course, there’s an upside to this as well. By our positive actions and careful words, we can elevate everyone in our group.
May we all aspire to that goal.
[This is from the November 2013 issue of Peter DeHaan’s newsletter. Sign up to receive the complete newsletter each month via email.]