Tuesday, April 10, 2012

When intent and perception collide, and I am in the middle

I am the person who assumes good intent in any situation where it is possible for intentions to be good.

So when my oldest friend sent an Easter card I saw only the "I am a friend and care for you" intent.

My husband, however, perceived the card as anti Semitic, as an attack against his family.

I was caught in the middle. I felt as though he was reading more into the card than the sender ever intended. He discussed the historical persicution of his culture.

It was an uncomfortable place to be, caught between intent and perception. I wanted my husband to feel safe and be happy, and I wanted my friend to not get hurt for a piece of paper sent in the mail. I did not want to have to choose between them and I could not see a way ahead where I could straddle the line and make the situation win-win.

In the end I composed an email to my friend and tried to explain why religious cards could not be sent In the future. I was pressed for time, or I would have written the words on stationary instead of the cold black and white medium of email. Of course she was caught off guard. I had waited to send anything until after Easter so as not to dampen her holiday. Of course she is hurt; this was a rejection, of sorts, of a gesture of friendship.

I am left feeling like nobody came out unbruised, and me caught in the middle perhaps more bruised than the others. I hope I have not lost my friend over this matter. I hope that things will return to a normal for everyone. And I hope not to be pressed between the rocks of intent and perception again.

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