There are some things that we consider an excuse for bad behavior. Severe physical pain (like giving birth or having your guts torn open or skin burned off) or distress (extreme deprivation of food, water, and sleep) are generally considered passable excuses for actions and speech that might otherwise be considered unacceptable (short temper, snappishness, foul language, antisocial attitude). Psychological pain (PTSD) is also understood.
But there’s a limit to how much leeway we’re willing to give people. Missing a night’s worth of winks doesn’t excuse heckling the rabbi during his speech, and even if your brain is in a jar next to your bed, you will be frowned upon for hurling expletives after a would-be visitor retreating from your hospital room. In a more common scenario, we do not condone shooting people because, say, they made fun of you throughout elementary and high school.
There’s a threshold for what counts as severe distress, and there’s also a threshold for acceptable unacceptable behavior. And what causes me distress is when people lower the bar for things that they really, really shouldn’t. (My response is blogging, which some people will assure you is unacceptable, so maybe I’m in a glass house here.)
What I’m referring to is giving young single people extra allowances for being persnickety and obnoxious because they’re still single (and none of their friends are).
Yes, it’s distressing. Yes, it’s… well, people tell me it’s painful. I find that a rather strong adjective, personally, but I’m willing to assume that some people take their single status very much to heart and find it painful. Still. This is life. Life has difficulties. Struggles. Moments of distress and pain. As adaptable human beings, we are expected to have sufficient suspension to absorb the bumps, roll with the punches, and basically, keep going even when the going is tough.
Members of a society behave according to its standards. People will try to get away with whatever we let them. Parents know this. So does the IRS. And failure to condemn is to condone. So if you create an atmosphere that condones being a sourpuss or disrespectful or a plain ol’ jerk on the excuse of being a spinster or bachelor… Well, some of us are going to be lazy and let out the sour, disrespectful jerk within for some exercise, just because – why not?
That’s pretty much what I was thinking when I saw this thread wherein a mother asks if it’s normal for an adult daughter to lecture her mother, and two of the respondents say to be understanding, it’s the stress of shidduchim. (!!!!!!) (link credit to the Rebbetzin). Now, that’s the kind of behavior you can’t let pass in a teen. How does a twenty-something believe that it’s okay? Maybe the problem is related to the fact that her mother seems unsure if it’s okay behavior or not. Or maybe it’s because it’s been intimated that it’s okay for her to be a jerk because she’s still single, and therefore in severe emotional pain. (The others excused her for being hungry from dieting. That doesn’t strike me as a weighty excuse either*, but that’s for a different blog.)
Pardon me while I go blow spitballs at married couples passing on the street. It’s the pain. It’s getting to me. I need some relief, but my mother wouldn’t stand for me yelling at her. Callous of her, wouldn’t you agree? I might lecture at her about that too, but I’m too grown up to blame other people for my problems.
*No pun intended.