Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pour Your Heart Out: Kindness Begins With Me.

This post is something that has been on my mind for months.  Something that I have been afraid of posting for fear that I might offend someone I like, or alienate another blogger, or just generally make people mad, and not like me.  But it seems that each time I start to think about this post, my feelings are stronger, and it's time for me to pour it out into words.

It's about being mean.  I keep seeing it all over online and it truly troubles me.  It especially disappoints me when I see it from fellow Christian bloggers.

Now I'll be the first to admit that I am guilty of an insult spoken in anger or irritation, or a snicker with a friend when somebody does something silly, or foolish.  And it's not right, and I need to work on it.  But I do try in earnest to be a kind person.  I know how self-conscious I can be, and how it stings to think other people might be judging me, or making fun of me.

For the past few months I have seen too many posts that I can only categorize as mean-spirited.  I'm not talking about venting on your blog because you have a personal conflict with your neighbor, or you got in a fight with a co-worker, or somebody wronged you and you need to get it off your chest by blogging about it.  I'm talking about being mean.  Not good-natured teasing, or being funny, but just down right mean.  Posts that mock someone else, or a group of someone elses.  People that are real, actual people.  People who have their own trials and triumphs, their own families who love them, and whom they love back - real people.  Not characters in a book or a show, but fellow members of the human race.  They feel.  They have joy, they have heartache, they are trying just like you and me to make their way in this world and find contentment.  Some might not be too bright.  Some might not be too attractive.  Some might have poor hygiene, and wear really ugly, unflattering clothes.  But so what?  I don't know why they dress that way, or don't take better care of themselves.  Maybe they're too poor to shop at the stores you and I do, or maybe they're just too depressed to care, and it's all they can do to even get dressed at all.  Maybe they grew up in foster care and were never in good homes and taught how to properly care for themselves.  I don't know their story, so who am I to ridicule them?  Especially in such a public forum as a blog?  It opens it up for more people to pile it on through comments, as they feel the need to get in on the action and make fun too.  It's called "mob-mentality", and people feed off it and join in the fun of making fun.  Isn't that what we call "bullying" when we're referring to what happens with kids?

I've seen posts ranging from mocking complete strangers that someone crossed paths with, to calling out people they actually know for having an ugly house or yard.  I wonder how it would make me feel to go online and come across a blog that had a picture of me posted, or a picture of my house and yard, and was making fun for all to laugh at, and join in the ridicule?  As I've had these thoughts, it's made me reflect back on my own blog, and question whether I have been guilty of this type of unkind behavior.  If I have, I sincerely apologize to whomever I may have directed that unkindness toward (whether they ever saw it or not, I'm sorry).

The most recent one I saw was sort of the final straw for me:  I read a blog last week who's author had taken the local "born in 2011" newspaper insert, and proceeded to make a list (including running mean commentary) of, in her words, "the best of the worst" baby names that people in that small community had named their children last year.  I noticed in the comments a person who happened to actually be the older sibling of one of the babies whose name was made fun of, questioning the use of this blogger's time  in ridiculing her parents.  Do you think this blogger felt bad, or apologized?  She didn't, instead she responded with a sarcastic remark, and again proceeded to make fun of the name of this woman's little brother.   I felt sickened.  And also a little betrayed that this blogger is a "Christian".

"A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another" ~ John 13:34

Regardless of religious affiliation, we all share a bond called womanhood.  We all have at least some common threads that connect our hearts.  Whether it be the joys and heartaches of motherhood, the struggle to conceive a child, the pain of losing a child, the journey of marriage, or college, or our career paths - we all share a connection by virtue of being women.  I don't care what the feminists say, there is something unique in our characters as women that connects us.  So wouldn't our time be better spent by building each other up, instead of tearing down?  Couldn't more satisfaction come our way by warming each others hearts rather than joining together in laughing at the expense of someone else?

Again, let me make it clear that I in no way view myself as perfect.  I'm certainly not always as kind as I could be, and I have many, many more flaws that I need to work on.  I absolutely don't think the people that wrote these things are horrible people.  I'm very certain that they do much good in their lives.  But this meanness is something I just couldn't witness anymore without saying something.  And I have made a commitment to myself (and now to you since I'm putting it in writing!), to be more mindful of the things I publish on my blog.

I learned a song when I was a little girl in primary, and my children have learned it themselves.  It is a simple song meant to help young children learn an important principle, but I find that as an adult I can still benefit from it's sweet message:

I want to be kind to everyone,
for that is right you see.
So I say to myself, remember this:
Kindness begins with me.


I'm linking up here:

16 comments:

Sela Toki said...

The Golden rule always comes full circle. It's really sad to know that there are people who thrives in being mean, crude and downright rude to others. Like it's their calling in life to bully, because truly, meanness is a form of bullying.

I love that song, "Kindness begins with me". If every person can start from within themselves, for sure it'll spread outward towards others. Thank you for this lovely post. It reminds me to show more kindness towards everyone.

Myya said...

What a great reminder & said in such a lovely way. Love one another, be kind, show common courtesy & easiest of all, treat others as you wish to be treated. Love you my friend!!!

Mamarazzi said...

beautifully written. i have witnessed the mob mentality and have personally been a victim of it.

i also feel guilty because once a "friend" of mine sent a group email out after a vlog someone did made her perplexed, disgusted, confused...not sure exactly what she was thinking she just sent a self pic of herself with a nasty expression on her face and even though it bothered me i did not say anything or stand up for the person she was clearly making fun of. i feel guilty by association for that one. i really do.

i am just glad that "friendship" changed it's course before i found myself wrapped up in other ugliness i have witnessed.

i see it all the time and it makes me really sad. why are we as women so quick to judge one another? why can't we lift each other up and support each other with love?

love the sentiment "kindness begins with me" true, so true. so simple. so beautiful.

thanks for this, i needed to be reminded of my own forgiveness process and that everyone is going through some sort of trial, so be kind.

Kate Fineske said...

What comes to my mind is: If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all...

I loved you comment, "they are trying just like you and me to make their way in this world and find contentment." So True.

Shell said...

I think some think they are being funny and don't realize it's mean. I guess people should think more before they post.

MiMi said...

I have seen SO many posts that are really mean spirited lately. Well, not lately, just overall since I started blogging.
Some of them actually hurt MY feelings in a way because I was just disappointed in other people for being that way.
Then I, like you, have to check myself because I'm guilty of doing it at times too.
I've said the "r" word. I've also called someone with an obvious "testosterone overload" (it was a woman) the bearded lady. Of course it was in defense of myself. Not that that's an excuse.
But because I know that the "r" word offends people I won't do a post with it.
I think other people don't think about what might offend other people, or they just don't care.
I think there's a freedom in that...which I sort of like the idea of freedom...but not at the cost of other's feelings.

Adrienne said...

It's true that kindness starts with us. People don't realize how hurtful they can be just by attempting to make a joke.

Valerie said...

Great post! I think we all can use a reminder to be a little kinder. (Hey! that rhymed!)

Emmy said...

Great post! It is easy to read posts, especially the ones that aren't about a specific person and just laugh along, but you are right, it is still a person. Thank you.

Ducky said...

I wish someone would've taught my exhusband that. The blessing in it is that I often have the opportunity to show my daughter what kindness is and we have a LOT of open dialogue about how we use our words.

becca said...

what a great post one i think everyone should read be they a blogger or not

Ashley - My Front Porch Swing said...

It's hard watching people tear others down, especially in a space we want community. Great post.

Elizabeth said...

I agree with you completely. Let no corrupt word proceed from your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Ephesians 4:29

Karen Peterson said...

Oh my goodness. I'm writing about kindness tomorrow too. It's such an important topic and it is so unfortunate how many people choose to ridicule and belittle instead of love and elevate.

I know I've done it too and I hate that. I want to be better.

Eternal Lizdom said...

Great post. It's a topic I've written on as well.

the girl said...

Great post. I don't know you personally but blogg-ally and I feel as you do on so many topics. I talked with my husband last night about this and noted that some people (family) pop onto my bloc as characters from time to time but above all my blot is a public personal blog. I blog about me and my family not anybody else's. Bunt this post makes me look at what I post under a microscope and make sure I'm being kind.