Why people cry

This is a quote which I bumped into on Facebook. I liked it, and I then shared it on my status update:

Part of the reason I liked it was that it aptly illustrated the usage for ‘It is because …’, which is a problem to some ESL learners and teachers in Hong Kong. Some teachers would insist that their students begin an answer to a Why-question in a reading comprehension exercise with ‘It is because …’. Some teachers would even deduct marks from their students’ answer that is not prefixed with these three words. Then, some students are not able to distinguish between “It is because …” and “This is because …” in the middle of a stretch of discourse.

I wrote the following lead-in remark for the quote:

Great. I’ve been looking for a good example to illustrate the usage for ‘It’s because …” (hoping teachers will stop deducting marks for an answer to a Why-question in a reading comprehension exercise that does not begin with ‘it’s because …haha)

The other part of the reason was that the quote resonated with me. Recently a few of my students and former students were going through a difficult time, either at home, or at work, or at the university. When I looked at my lead-in remark again after posting the picture, I found my remark too ‘impersonal’, with its sole focus on the language. Subsequently,  I added the following comment to my own post:

And of course you ladies will accuse me of focussing on the grammar, not on the message itself! The truth is: the message does click with me.

Within seconds, Gigi, a former student responded:

It says people in the quote, not women.

I was quite amused with this response. And I had to admit that I had been biassed in thinking that only women would cry.

The post continued to attract several comments, some of which formed a linguistic debate on whether “It is because” was acceptable or not as the beginning of a sentence. But what surprised me was that in a space of a few hours, more than 50 people had liked the post. Three people further shared this quote, and when I checked, many of their own FB friends also liked it. It then dawned on me that the quote had spoken the minds of a lot of people.

“People cry, not because they are weak. It’s because they’ve been strong for too long.”

Apparently, many people have had this feeling. They are going through some difficult time; they try their best to stay strong and not to collapse. Then at one particular moment, all of a sudden, they can’t control themselves any more. All the stress, sadness, frustrations, worries, etc. that they have suppressed for months or years suddenly erupt to the surface in one second. They can’t hold their fort any more. And tears burst from their eyes.

In our daily life, we will hide our inner stress and unhappiness in our dealings with other people. So, when you look around, at most you will see many expressionless faces, but you won’t see many sorrowful eyes. Let us remember that some of the people around us may be going through a difficult time at home, or struggling with enormous stress at work or in their studies. We may not be able to offer them any concrete help, but let us take every opportuntiy to  practise a little compassion by giving them some friendly smiles, saying a few kind words, or patiently listening to their unhappy stories. Even with very small gestures, we can all help to  make the world a slightly warmer place for everybody.

“We can do no great things; only small things, with great love.”

– Mother Teresa


3 thoughts on “Why people cry

  1. Sure, this is another insightful way of looking at this uniquely human trait. In the past, if someone started to cry, I would try to ‘reason’ with them and ‘explain’ to them why there was no need to cry. Now I will not do that; I will just keep them company.

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