While Sheldon Cooper on "The Big Bang Theory" is incredibly smart, he’s still childlike in many ways. When his friend Leonard hosts a Christmas-themed Dungeons & Dragons night, Sheldon ruins the game by locking up Santa Claus and throwing away the key. It seems that one year Sheldon asked Santa to resurrect a loved one, and when this didn’t happen, he held a grudge that he’s never relinquished.
It thus comes as a shock to him when Santa appears in his living room. Despite his hateful actions, Sheldon nonetheless expects Santa to give him something he’d really like. His eyes light up at the thought that Santa might give him a train set. They blaze when he thinks that Santa might even go further, and give him two or three. Instead, Santa repays his hurtful act by lighting a canon and blowing Sheldon away. Even in our dreams, it seems that justice still rules.
Often, the limitations of those around me bother me more than my own. I find myself surrounded by people who speak or act unkindly, show less sensitivity toward my needs than they could, or display no desire to repay the kindnesses I have bestowed on them. I know, to a certain extent, that this is merely justice repaying my own past unkindnesses, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity. Yet it can be so easy to excuse my own limitations, while blaming others for theirs.
As Stephen R. Covey said in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I can choose to act, or be acted upon. I can choose to model myself on the person I wish to be, or I can allow others’ defects and limitations to define me. I know who I want to be: giving, caring, and forward-looking. I do not wish my actions to be dictated by previous injustices, but empowered by the ideals I wish to embody, and the world I desire to inhabit.
In "The Big Bang Theory," Sheldon Cooper doesn’t engage in friendships so much as he forges contracts defining acceptable actions and behaviors with those in his life. In this way, he limits the actions of others, while maximizing his own freedom. Should a friend or roommate violate such an agreement, this will allow Sheldon to perpetrate any act of nastiness or cruelty necessary to correct the other’s behavior, and thus realign the scales of justice.
Although it may not have been my intention, I know that at times my words, deeds, or perhaps even my lack of action have hurt and disappointed others. So I can understand when others repay my evil with their own. That’s bottom-line Human interaction: "An eye for an eye." Often I find myself viewing and interacting with others in such basic terms. But on the whole, I aspire to mature beyond such a childlike mindset, to be more adult than that, to trade in mercy and grace rather than justice.
To give others trains, even if they don’t deserve them.
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