If grudges were cute and cuddly, there’d be nothing bad about holding them. They’re not cute, though, and have a temperament (careful, they bite) that could make my cranky cat look like an absolute angel.
And though the damage the boy does to window blinds is annoying, it’s nowhere near the destruction wreaked by grudges as a result of sometimes decades-long slights (or perceived slights) nursed by people who just can’t move on.
Most times it just results in tense family dinners and avoidance of the people who “done you wrong” all those years ago.
Sometimes, though, it ends up being deadly, such as the murders of Prosecutor Mark Hasse and District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia in Kaufman County, Texas, in January 2013. Former lawyer and justice of the peace Eric Williams was sentenced to death row for the deaths that were said to be retaliation for his conviction for stealing county-owned computer monitors. His wife, also convicted in the murders and sentenced to 40 years, testified that the monitor conviction incited her husband to begin plotting to kill the prosecutors, as well as two judges. The couple, thankfully, was arrested before the judges could be killed.
In 2012, 73-year-old Carl Ericsson of Watertown, S.D., was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of former classmate Norman Johnson more than 50 years after a high school locker-room prank in which a jockstrap was said to have been pulled over team manager Ericsson’s head, possibly by star athlete Johnson. According to USA Today, “Ericsson’s brother told police shortly after the murder that Ericsson was a depressed alcoholic who still held a grudge against Johnson.”
In politics, we see grudges all the time: Hillary Clinton against anyone trespassing her zone of privacy or those she feels betrayed her or members of her family; Donald Trump against reporters, ex-employees, political opponents, judges, and probably everyone who’s ever disparaged that thing occupying the top of his head. Harry Truman long held bitterness toward the machinations of Joseph Kennedy, patriarch of the Kennedy dynasty, once telling an interviewer, “It’s not the pope I’m afraid of, it’s the pop.” Until Richard Nixon’s funeral, Spiro Agnew refused to have anything to do with his former boss, believing Nixon had “thrown him to the wolves” to save himself.
Even mild-mannered Jimmy Carter held a grudge—for more than 30 years—against Ted Kennedy (I guess all the cool kids are supposed to have a Kennedy grudge). During the 1976 race, NPR reported, many in the party believed Carter only got the nomination because Kennedy stayed out of the race; after inauguration, the Carter White House felt that Kennedy was plotting against Carter. Carter told 60 Minutes in 2010 that during his administration Kennedy had blocked his health-care coverage bill (Kennedy had a competing plan), saying, “He did not want to see me have a major success in that realm of life.”
We’ve all probably held at least one grudge in our lives, but for some people, it seems that’s all they do with their time. Sore feelings over insults from someone you know is what most of us probably think of, but it seems social media and political distortion have made ill will against public figures the new norm, as if those people personally hurt all the sorely aggrieved. Even those of us who aren’t quite public figures can draw grudge-holders; some of mine are because I dare to fact-check and hold standards, but at least one is holding the sins of a predecessor against me.
If you saw many of the comments online by some people, you might wonder if columnist John Brummett had left flaming bags of poo on their porches (I’m sure he has better uses for Roscoe’s poo), or Hillary Clinton keyed their cars, or Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson perhaps gave them swirlies after gym class. If they actually had done those things, that might make the resentment somewhat understandable. But blaming people you don’t know for some imagined insult is hardly healthy, and just means someone is living rent-free in your head.
You could at least offer free breakfast too … but not the cheap continental kind. How ’bout some omelets, people?
Sustained animosity (especially of the blind hyperpartisan variety) does nothing good. It can damage relationships, your work life and your health. When it’s a grudge held against someone you actually know, you can talk, forgive, learn from it, and move on.
But what about when it’s against someone you don’t know?
I’d say to seek out the the truth about whatever it is that offended you from sources across the spectrum because, as it’s been said, truth is the best disinfectant.
If it’s because of hyperpartisanship, you may just have to live with the effects—and the fact that no one wants to be around someone who is so bitter for no good reason—because partisans don’t like to have their worldviews challenged. (Don’t believe me? Check out just about any comment page on the Washington Post site.) They’ll just keep nursing those grudges, feeding them every once in a while with confirmation bias. And you know what comes after feeding.
I’m pretty sure those grudges haven’t been paper-trained. Especially Donald Trump’s.
Speaking of T-Rump (and that orangutan hair atop his noggin), I just have to laugh at the concept of him demanding an apology from Ruth Bader Ginsburg for her recent comments about him.
Yes, judges (especially at the highest levels) most of the time stay out of the political fray, but the Notorious RBG is hardly the first Supreme Court justice to make such comments outside the courtroom (anybody remember, oh, I dunno … Antonin Scalia?).
Let’s make a deal, Donnie: When you apologize for all the offensive and just plain wrong things you’ve said and done, maybe Justice Ginsburg will take a possible apology to you under advisement.
Somehow I don’t think that’s forthcoming.