This has shown up several times on social media shares lately. It truly reminds me of something we would see in school. While I’d love to believe this is something that was truly posted (and maybe it was; you know how the internet can be), there is a part of me that theorizes that it was designed to invoke nostalgic feelings of years gone by and a simpler time when these were the things we strived for as children and what our parents and teachers worked to instill in us. Ah, the skepticism of adulthood (and the blatant and obvious mistrust of the internet).
If you notice, the list is very reminiscent of recent news headlines. Be responsible, kind, celebrate the differences in others and a few others thrown in there to make us think it’s a school poster (which it might be). Last year was filled with a lot of things that were hurtful, angry and sometimes vulgar and repulsive. It was a world divided, with strong, acidic opinions flying back and forth faster than you could type, copy/paste or click. Friendships were interrupted or lost and acquaintances were dropped without a second thought.
It seemed like the mad emoji would replace all the smiles and hearts and other symbols of sharing and caring. Now that it’s “over”, there is a new kind of sharing that is going on that isn’t much of an improvement. Phrases like “libtard” (which truly shows a lack of intelligence and is just another incarnation of “retard” which is vile when used in that way), “snowflake”, “butthurt” and well, you get the picture…are making their way into mainstream conversations. Last year, I was very upset about the things that were said and I too posted comments and had arguments with people who spouted back at me. I kept telling myself that there was nothing I could do to change their minds, but I could at least speak mine. I truly got nowhere.
I tried a few tactics to remove myself from the vitriol and try to make a few changes. Instead of posting my reactions and comments, I distanced myself and tried to listen to trusted friends and family members and truly understand whey they felt the way they did. I started questioning my belief in the things I read and decided to move forward with an open mind and heart about things. I started reading, but then I realized that if I clicked a “like” on something, that people could still see how I felt and read what I agreed with. That too I stopped. I didn’t stop because I felt I couldn’t speak my mind, but I felt that it wasn’t accomplishing anything. It didn’t benefit me in any way and it publicized my anger and discontent with what was going on.
Finally, the day has passed. I watched with hope, an open mind and a positive view of the future. I listened, I watched and I learned that we have a LONG way to go. Yesterday, through today, I’ve watched friends, family and acquaintances openly and sometimes virulently verbalize their fears, concerns, anger and upset. It is their right and many have valid points on both sides. Sitting “in the middle” as I always have, I try very hard to be the person of centrist thinking I’ve come to be. I identify with me, my feelings and beliefs, not a specific platform or set of beliefs that are absolute and unwavering. Whether or not that lends to or away from a solid set of conviction remains to be seen. I shrug, because I do not know.
I was sad last night and this morning when I woke up to my “feed”. My loving, churchgoing friends and family were being quite nasty to one another again. I can’t shrug this time, because I’m tired. I’m so weary of watching people who claim to love one another post comments laughing at others and calling them names because their ideals and beliefs are different than theirs. I even saw someone who had posted a jab at the 44th first lady with an emoji of a monkey next to it. No one said a thing. I was repulsed. Have we really sunk that low again, allowing racist statements to be just brushed off?
My belief is that the speech we heard yesterday was filled with a LOT of promises. They are promises that can be written down in a bullet list and I fully expect this time that they be fulfilled. You can no longer excuse the speaker and say, “Well, that was just a speech”. They were PROMISES. They cannot be properly fulfilled at the risk of losing the core tenets of the Constitution. You cannot shape the world around you to appease your own ego. It must be done exactly as was promised. This time, the people will not accept anything less. In my friends and family, I will always “listen”, but I will internally decide what kind of people they are when they mock those who think differently from them or allow horribly unkind things to be said. Beginning today I will look to the future not because I have no choice or because someone told me to, but because I want to believe, for myself, for my children and the future.