Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Little Lecture On Kindness

Can you believe it's March already?  I like March.  It signals Spring (in my head anyway.  Where I live there is not much difference in seasons so it's all psychological.)  Easter is around the corner.  Katie has a birthday at the end of the month, and also one of my brothers.  I am busy searching for little Easter things to send the grandkids.  Any excuse to send them something, I say.  I love them all like nothing else.

L and I survived the evening of Super Tuesday.  We were on the edge of our couch and then bolt upright in bed before we called it a night.  I realize that all of you were not so involved, perhaps were not interested  at all, or were even displeased with everything about it.  I get it.  My opinions and beliefs are not universal. Far from it.  But if there is one thing that is important to me - and it's something I tried very hard to teach my children (success there in varying degrees...) - it's to be kind, respectful of others and their opinions, and (did I already say this?) to be KIND.  I've always tried to understand where the opinions and thoughts of others come from, even if I don't agree with them.  It helps me to understand people, and to realize that people are not stupid or evil just because they don't fall in line with what I think.

The one thing that has been so disheartening to me in this election/selection process is the meanness that abounds.  The vicious name calling.  The outright lies.  And this is on both sides, folks.  No one has a monopoly on it - both sides of the aisle are guilty.  And there's no reason for it.  For some, it may be to gain ratings, for others, that quick thrill of being able to say something incredibly rude in an online forum where you have no face.  For many, it's simply quick anger in the heat of an argument, where words are said that never should have been thought, let alone uttered out loud.  It's sad.

I just spent a weekend with a friend in Seattle.  I blogged about it.  The two of us couldn't be more different in our political leanings.  Seriously.  But any discussion we had about politics - and there wasn't much - was polite and respectful.  Because there were bigger things than winning an argument at stake, like a decades long friendship.  Like being as close as sisters.  I wouldn't jeopardize that for anything, and I think most of us are the same when it comes to folks we know.

It's when we don't know them that most of the trouble begins.  We assume.  We conjecture.  We believe rumors and gossip.  And we don't check our facts.  It's no secret that I'm a Mitt Romney fan.  I think he's an incredibly intelligent, capable man who will do right for this country.  He is not Obama-smooth in front of a camera.  But he's sincere - at least that's my opinion.  I went on his Facebook page one day, and I was appalled at how mean so many people were in their comments.  I mean, really really mean in a completely uninformed and ignorant way.  I dare say that if I were to go on President Obama's page (I guess he has one?) it would maybe be a lot of the same thing.  It made me so disappointed in people.

I guess my point is this:  if you don't like someone's politics, that is perfectly acceptable.  There are many many ways to approach problems, and we can't always have it our way.  It's a big country with lots of people and opinions in it.  Personally, Mr. Obama has had four years to try it his way, and now I'd like to try something else.  You may feel differently, and I respect your right to feel that way.  What I can't respect is when Mitt or any other candidate is attacked and maligned for reasons that have nothing to do with political views - like religion or wealth, or having two Cadillacs.  I don't know a politician anywhere who is not financially successful - since when is that a bad thing?  Do we not want successful people as our leaders?  And why are things that are so unimportant being attacked?  It's so we don't focus on important truths - instead we feel angry that some have so much more than we do.  But that's life, people - there will always be the two extremes and then most of us somewhere in the middle.  Hopefully, the ones with a lot, will give a lot to help those who have nothing.  There are so many good people in the world who give and give and give.  But you can't - and shouldn't - force people to give.  It should be a choice, a freedom,  because then it's truly a gift.

You don't like Evangelicals?  You think Mormons are a misled cult?  No one is asking you to be one.  But for the love of all that's holy, please don't spout garbage about someone's sacred beliefs when you know little to nothing about them.  Or because you are feeling bitter.  I can't begin to speak for any religion other than my own (and for the record, it's not a cult...  *rolling eyes and shaking head*) - but I would not ever just fabricate a reality or ridicule someone's religion because I don't agree with the doctrines.  I would not call someone's daughter, wife, or sister a filthy name.  Not to be funny, or for TV/radio ratings, or for any other reason.  Respect, folks, respect.  We should always show each other common courtesies, understanding that what I like to do, what I choose to believe in, you may not, and vice versa.  And it's okay.  With a mutual respect, we can compromise and come to an understanding.  It's the way it should be.

Sadly, it doesn't work unless everyone takes that attitude.  I fear that this election (and society in general) is going to get really mean.  Lots of lies.  Lots of venom.  But we can think and discern truth from the junk.  Viciousness will always sound like a mean lie, so let's don't accept it on face value.  Ask questions, research, pray if you're so inclined.

There will always be those who take joy in tearing down and destroying others' freedoms, beliefs and dreams when they are different from their own.  There are those who will always find spiritual beliefs - religion if you will - something to ridicule and make fun of.  But let's don't be those people, even if you don't want religion for yourself.  Let's make mean people the minority.  Let's make a conscious effort to show courtesy for the opinions and beliefs that differ from our own.  Let's try to understand how others came to have those opinions.  It can be eye opening, and can lead to compromise and understanding.  It can lead to unlikely friendships.  It can lead to education and peace.  And who couldn't stand to learn more and feel more peace?  We have a bright generation coming up.  Let's do our best to be good to each other so they will learn kindness and compassion.  They are our hope.

9 comments:

  1. ahem.

    love you silly. always saying wat needs to be said.

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  2. Hear hear!!! Amen!!! You go girl!!! And any other way I can think of to tell you to keep spreading this message, I will. I'm in complete agreement, especially about kindness. Meaness gets you nothing in the end.

    Thank you, my friend, for putting this out here. Well said.

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  3. Hello, my new friend karen (small "k")! This post couldn't have come at a better time because it allows me to echo your feelings. It doesn't matter which side of the aisle you're on. Reasonable people everywhere agree that there is no justification for hate in politics, in religion or anywhere else. Experts have long insisted that negative campaign ads work, but to what end? Do fear mongering and mud slinging "work" for America? No. They make us less than we can be.

    Dear friend karen, you and I are a working model of how America can work. In this post you set an example that I wish every citizen would follow. You outlined your position and expressed your views in a respectful manner. You denounced those who tear others down because their politics, religion, economic status or shoe size isn't an exact match. You even went as far as to suggest that you try to put yourself in the other's place in an effort to better understand where they're coming from. There's a concept!

    I will admit to you that I came here two or three times with the intention of following. Each time I let my old ingrained fears and limiting beliefs take over. I thought it would be a long shot for people from opposing camps to become friends. I finally silenced that voice and joined your blog family. I did so because I knew I was better than that and I sensed that you were, too. This post shows me that you and I aren't natural enemies at all. I want people like you in my world. I am proud to know you, karen, and to call you my friend.

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  4. Good post Karen. While I fall on the other side of the debate from you, I respect and agree with your assessment.
    One of the great tragedies in my opinion, is the loss of civility.
    It seems these days there can be no middle ground. You're either fer me or agin me.
    You make an excellent point in that people jump into the debat without the slightest hint of whether their argument is based in fact or fiction. I think Facebook and the internet has given a voice to everyone....including those who don't want to waste time checking pesky facts or sources.
    I'd be willing to bet that if you got most level headed Americans together to talk about issues that are most important to them, there wouldn't be a great distance between them, whether they are liberal or conservative.

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  5. I love that you are passionate about politics. The best politicians are the ones who are respectful and kind. Everyone deserves kindness. I hate some of the trash people email me about the "other side". I never pass it on. Good post.

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  6. I totally agree that kindness and respect are key to any beneficial conversation. Once a person feels "picked on" learning and understanding stop. One of my pet peeves with politicians is when they say that people who don't agree with them are "ignorant"...I also sure wish people were honest, as I find it difficult to distinguish between a lie and the truth, especially when it comes to politics. . .That photo of the little girl is so darn cute!!

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  7. Great post Mom! I really really loved reading this. Such a great message. You're so good about really speaking the truth in your blog posts and I think so many can relate. Wish I had something more interesting to say in my blog. I guess I make up for it in photos ;-)

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  8. I've been meaning to make a similar post for a while but just can't find the time for blogging lately! Anyway, it really disturbs me that people seem to think that if someone does not agree with them politically they must be an idiot. There really are legitimate or at least understandable sides to almost every issue. And this absolutely applies no matter where you are on the political spectrum

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  9. I SO agree with you, Karen. The stuff we're seeing between the candidates is exactly the problem in Congress and Washington DC in general.

    What happened to civility and respect?

    Sheesh.

    "/

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