People, as a whole, are very good at complaining…me included, of course. But at the same time, we’re even better at judging. When your friends say they have it bad, you can always manage to think of how you have it worse. When my brother was killed in March, all I could think was, NOW I really do have it that bad. There’s no way that people can say their lives are more troubled than mine. The circumstances surrounding my brother’s death were about as horrible as you can imagine. He was 15 days away from coming home after a year and a half in Iraq. He was also on the verge of divorce and I can’t help but think that that’s what was on his mind when he was killed. Since my brother’s death, I have found myself disgusted when people I knew complained about their terrible break ups or how much they hate their miserable jobs. All I could think was, “You want to talk about pain?! You want to hear about what really hurts?”
One night this past summer, I was at a bar with a few friends. It was towards the beginning of that point where I was forcing myself to go out just to try to stop thinking about my sadness. I didn’t want to be there—I would have been much more content sitting at home feeling sorry for myself. When I excused myself to the restroom, I remembered this was the place that had chalk boards in the stalls. I always loved reading the nonsense and humorous things that drunk people spewed onto the board. The stall I went in disappointingly only had one thing written on it. It was a quote by Plato that said “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
To this day, I can’t get that quote out of my head. I think about it all the time. My brother’s death was a horrible thing. But at least I come from a very strong and tight-knit family to help me deal with it. At least it has caused my relationship with my other brother to strengthen greatly. And at least hundreds and hundreds of more people know the name Sgt. Jeffrey Reed and what a strong and heroic individual he was.
People’s uphill battles are all in perspective. Of course, bad breakups and office drama are that big of a deal to the people who have never lost a sibling. As hard as it is and as much as I want to scream sometimes, I really try to make that extra effort to be kind to people. Who am I to judge their battles?