Tmocintre Roi changes everything

Tmocintre Roi – a spiritual fitness tool I want you to understand – can be best explained by an incident that happened last school year. 

Last school year, most mornings, I walked Annie to the corner of 37th and Klickitat from where she and the other first and third graders took the bus.

If the same of the street sounds familiar, that’s because I live in children’s author Beverly Cleary’s neighborhood. 

This year, Annie can walk to school. I do miss the daily informal community and ritual.

I’ll get us back to the incident in a moment. The incident that will explain Tmocintre Roi. But, first you need some background.

 

Some Background

In October or November of the same school year in which the incident happened, one particular dad seemed to be avoiding me. 

This dad walked slower or faster than me so our pace to or from pick up never coincided, he answered my questions with few words, and he seemingly avoided eye contact.

So, because I’m me, I brought this up:

“Hey, listen. Did I do something to offend you?”

He looked at me and said, “Yeah. You did, actually.”

 

Oh, my God; what did I do?

 

I scrambled to think of what it was I had done so I could apologize. Nothing came to mind. Not a thing. No idea.

If I could acknowledge the trespass before he pointed it out, my route to forgiveness would be easier.

But I had no idea what it was.

So, instead I said:

“What was it? I don’t know what it was.”

He responded:

“I don’t wanna tell you.”

My internal dialogue was: “Oh, snap! How am I going to recover from this?”

It was October or November. The Jewish Day of Atonement – which would forgive me for unwittingly committed transgressions for which amends were attempted – was almost a full year away.

Now the story jumps to May.

The incident

I was walking back home from the bus stop, talking with my sister on my favorite (rabbi-recommended) JBL headset. 

The dad who I had offended caught up to me and matched my pace like he wanted to talk. I quickly said, “Sari, I’ve got to go” and dropped the headset out of my ear. (It wound up that I hadn’t hung up, and she heard the whole exchange that followed.)

Starting with me:

“Yeah, what’s up?”

“I’m gonna tell you. I’ve been thinking about it. Remember there’s the thing that I told you offended me.”

“Tell me; what was it?”

“Back in kindergarten, when our kids were in kindergarten…”

My internal alarms shriek!

Oh, fuck!

I can’t imagine.

That was almost four years ago.

What did I do to be so offensive?

He continued:

“We were on the playground doing pick-up, and I said to you, ‘Hey, Brian. It’s good to see you.’ And you said, ‘Yes, apparently I’m good to see.’ And I thought that was really really arrogant and obnoxious.”

Yeah, that was the offense.

That was the thing I did that made him avoid me for years.

 T.m.o.c.i.n.t.r.e. R.o.i. 

The meaning of communication is in the response elicited, regardless of intention.

The meaning of communication is in the response elicited, regardless of intention.

It doesn’t matter what I intended.

I was offensive.

And, how do I know?

By what I thought of the situation?

No.

I know what I did was offensive, not by what I thought of it, but by what he thought of it.

Wow.

Tmocintre Roi

The meaning of communication is in the response elicited, regardless of intention. The meaning of communication is in the response elicited, regardless of intention.

Wow.

“Tmocintre Roi”

The meaning of communication is how it’s taken, not how it’s meant.

The meaning of communication is in the response elicited.

Nine hundred ninety-nine people might have said I was innocent, but this person was offended, and so I apologized.

Yes, I apologized.

I apologized because I had wronged him.

I mean, doesn’t that make sense?

You have better ideas?

More examples

Let’s think about Jane and my kids. 

If they are upset by my actions and they tell me so, oughtn’t I take their grievance to heart?

What the difference with the random dad at the bus stop who was offended by my quirky sense of humor?

He was offended. Therefore – and it might be challenging in the moment it is happening to see this – I was in the wrong.

Another example:

If you email me that my above use of the word ef-ew-see-kay offends you, are you not untitled to my apology?

Here is your apology:

Truly, I am sorry if those letters and sounds upset you.

I do not want you to be discomforted.

Notwithstanding, I do not value your discomfort above my right to write as I choose.

Should you want to work with me towards a compromise – like you underwrite the added workflow cost of ROTB producing a second curse free edition of each newsletter – I’m glad to work with you. Or perhaps we can find some other compromise. Let’s figure out something.

I hope you can forgive my trespass.

Yes.

The implications of “Tmocintre Roi” are big.

You might take some time to think on it.

With love,
Rabbi Brian

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