Don’t build your happiness on someone else’s ruin

I read the above saying when I was a young adult. I can’t quite remember who wrote it and where I had read it. But I have always been mindful of it in the decisions I make when it involves other people.

Not that I have never wounded another person, that would be untrue. We are human beings and we, intentionally or otherwise, hurt others. When we do, the best thing to do is to apologize and make amends. But, sometimes, we go on a trajectory because we say “it’s the right thing to do”, “it’s for the good of the family” or “it’s for the nation’s good”, “it’s God’s will”, and we don’t realise the damage it causes others. We fail to see our plan is hurting others and we don’t make allowances for them to opt out of our trajectory or adjust the course to include them.

We hurt out of vindictiveness or to even the score or take it out on others out of our own bitterness or own deep hurt. These are part of being human and like I said earlier, when it happens, let’s just apologize and seek reconciliation.

But, because we are human and capable of such acts of injuring others, it is all the more reason to be careful so that our actions don’t cause injury others can’t or it would be very difficult to come back from.

At a personal level, it may lead to divorce or even murder or suicide. At a community level it may lead to riots and vandalism and at a national level it will lead to war. These are things that are very difficult to come back from and require specialised help in order to heal.

Consider Hitler’s Germany or Japan’s imperial army. Till this day they have to make amends for the atrocities committed by their predecessors. When we do such damage, it always haunts us. We’ll never be fully free to enjoy the benefits we strove for at the expense of people we wounded in the process. It sears our conscience — unless we are so hard-hearted we refuse to confront it by hiding in denial.

I’m no psychologist and don’t want to go into the whys and hows of handling such grave hurt human beings commit on others. In the normal course of life, all I want to say is that we should be ever mindful to never put people in a situation which will be difficult to come back from.

If we do it, it will haunt us for life. We will never be happy. We should as far as it is possible for us to do, never strive to accomplish a goal or build our future or happiness by depriving others or oppressing them or jailing them. We should never build our happiness on someone else’s ruin.



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