For those of us in the U.S., today we are celebrating our Independence Day. It was a reverse Brexit 240 years ago, and when our founding fathers did it, they aimed to see to it that our citizens had a bunch of freedoms: of religion, speech, press—and rights: to bear arms, trial by jury, etc. Of course, while they may have wanted to be all about freedoms and rights, they still allowed slavery and denied women the right to vote and own property, among other things. So…let’s just say that the founding fathers needed to find a little bit more.
While the spirit outreached the reality, we are blessed with many freedoms that several other countries still do not guarantee their citizens.
Freedom, though, isn’t a guarantee for awesome behavior. As we have seen this election year, freedom of speech allows for a whole host of horrible things to be said. Though I know people have the right to be complete asshats, it still both infuriates and saddens me greatly.
So, on this Independence Day, I thought I would share a post of mine from a couple years ago that reminds us to be kind to one another. We must remember we are free to do that, too.
Mean People Suck
Originally posted February 18, 2013
I have some serious sarcasm flowing through my veins. It’s nothing I aim for—it’s just there—and I imperfectly strive to keep it in check.
I remember making jokes in 4th grade, and—though the kids were laughing—sometimes I would hear, “You’re mean.” I didn’t intend to be, but since my humor could be at someone else’s expense, at the very least I was mean to that person. I’ve remembered that always. I don’t want to be mean—I just enjoy making people laugh. I know what it feels like to be the butt of someone’s joke, and I don’t want to create that feeling for another.
But I fail, for sure. Sometimes the laugh apples are hanging so low off the tree I can’t help but pick ‘em. Still, that’s no excuse. (Sometimes, though, when a person’s being a major jagwad, I don’t feel bad when I shoot a caustic arrow his or her way…That’s probably still wrong, but it can feel like a kind of justice—especially when it’s on someone else’s behalf.)
And while I am still guilty of sharp comments, I learned long ago that there is a perfect subject for me to make fun of: me. So I am my own best target. And when I make fun of myself, I totally get it and don’t get mad. And since I am the butt of many of my own jokes, it explains why I have a big butt. So it all makes sense.
When I had my son, I thought to myself, “If there was one word you could pick to have as a descriptor of this kid as he grows up, what would you want it be?” My immediate response was kind. Not nice, but kind. (Don’t get me wrong—as Frank Burns said, “It’s nice to be nice to the nice,” I know…but that’s not enough.) Nice is pleasant and obliging…but kind is compassionate and helpful. At least that’s how I see it. Kind runs deep and is grounded in loving others.
We need more kindness. Mean people suck. And it’s not just about being mean for a laugh. I’m really sick at heart when I see how easy it is for people to be nasty with their comments—both in the real world and the cyber world. The Internet has afforded an anonymity to people to just be horrible to one another as they comment on articles, blogs, and videos. Just awful…and for what? How is that okay? This past election season nasty comments didn’t even need anonymity. Facebook was rife with cutting and mean-spirited crap from both sides of the aisle. It really made me sad…and still does.
It’s simply not okay. And while we are all human and will all fail at times, in “The World According to Lisa” (which is super awesome), we need to strive harder to see to it that the Meanies lose. Just imagine what our world might be like if kindness reigned supreme…if the whole world played a game of Kindness Tag…Tag! I’ve tagged you with kindness! You’re it! Go be kind to another! (And tag-backs would totally be allowed!)
But we can’t depend on the “whole world” for anything, can we?…So it’s up to us in our own little world…where it still absolutely matters. And maybe it will ripple out and impact more than you could ever possibly know.
I hope you agree. But if you don’t, I hope you’ll be kind in telling me so!