I am absolutely nobody. I am a grandma, not a politician, super athlete or celebrity. I have no following on Social Media. I am barely on Social Media. No one cares two cents for my opinion. That doesn’t stop me from giving it.
Over the past several weeks it seemed to me that commentators were snarkier and snippier than usual. This happened across the spectrum, on every topic under the sun, by people who wouldn’t know civility if they tripped over it, and by people who should know better.
I am so tired of the snark. Of the nastiness. Of the assumed bad will. On all sides: left and right, democrat and republican, conservative and progressive, gay and straight, man and woman and whatever other opposites you can come up with. I’m tired of the name calling. I’m tired of the empty virtue signaling. I’m tired of the commenting when it is none of your business and when it does nothing to help a problem. I’m just plain tired of the ear blistering nastiness.
I have always believed that all decent people desire the same things: family and a job that supports it; a home that’s safe; enough food to eat; freedom to express all kinds of thoughts and freedom to pick a church, or no church at all; peace in both our own neighborhood and in the world; time to pursue interests and passions. I have also believed that there are many paths to these desires and that no one has the lock on the “one possible way.”
However, reading and listening to the various media it would seem that everyone is sure they have the one and only solution. And everyone else is stupid and everyone else hates. It would appear that demonizing “the other,” rather than discussing ideas, is now a recognized business practice in politics and in life. All that means is that bullying is entrenched in the culture and the biggest bully wins. And yet we lament that children are bullied. Why shouldn’t they be? They see adults doing it all the time.
Supposedly the best way to begin a habit is to act as if it were already in place. So, if I were queen of the universe I would decree that for one day no one one can say anything unless it is positive; for the next day, everyone must say something nice about their perceived opponent; and for third day everyone must find something good in their opponent’s plans or ideology.
I want everyone to understand that we are all in this together. We don’t live in our own little worlds on our own different planets. Which is precisely what identity politics insists on. When we focus on “me” on “my tribe” on “my world” on “my experience,” we shout a lot and make everything worse. And believe me, this nobody is so very tired of worse.
I want people to assume good will, not bad. I want people to give the benefit of the doubt, not assume the worst. And I want people to be the adult in the room, be brave, be unselfconscious, and be a leader in talking about ideas – not about the people behind them. Don’t be worried about showing kindness. Don’t feel it is your job to take people down a peg or two. Try to understand another point of view. And if you get burned in all this, so what? You did the right thing.
We all start out in different places, but it is our choice to be locked into our beginnings. Some of those beginnings are good and some not so good. We can’t all be “the star”, but we can all be kind. We can’t all be wealthy, but we can all be generous. We can’t all make the whole world a better place, but we can fill our own part of the world with love. And sometimes all we can do is put one foot in front of the other and hope we can get through the day and hope that tomorrow might be just a little better. And if it’s not, we can continue to put one foot in front of the other until it is.
Proverbs don’t become proverbs because they are silly. Fables don’t settle into folklore because they are ridiculous. So – you catch more flies with honey than vinegar; and if you want to make someone take off his coat, shine the sun, don’t blow a gale. Practically that means set an example with kind actions, and when it comes to words ask yourself, will what I am going to say forward the discussion or shut it down? Would I say it in front of my mother? Would I want someone to say it about me? And if the answer to any of these questions is no, then keep those thoughts to yourself.
There is a Somebody across the Atlantic who also signs her name Elizabeth R and who has reportedly noticed the dysfunction, the lack of civility and this mania to have it “my way or not at all.” If you won’t listen to this nobody, then perhaps you will listen to that Somebody. All of us nobodies would be so grateful.