I am interrupting our normally scheduled broadcast (The Dickens Project) for a public service message…
Lately, I’ve been sad and disappointed with the human race. We all know that crime and the ferocity of crimes has escalated to unthinkable proportions. Hate crimes, revenge, and just plain insanity seem to fill our daily news, rather than being the rare story. Even weddings make the news, not for the joyous celebration they should be, but because of the mob-like brawl that cost one family member their life. What is happening to people? It has made me start to seriously fear for our future, and our children’s future.
If you think the news is bad, just go to the internet. Because I have to market my books, I have three facebook pages, two business related and one personal. This means I spend a fair amount of time on facebook. Recently both in everyday life, and especially on facebook, things have been getting a bit unfriendly. I can hardly wait until the end of the election, but I’m afraid the hate speech won’t end there.
I understand everyone has an opinion, and has a right to express it. I don’t have a problem with people posting their political view, as long as they don’t make it personal. The posts that make me consider blocking people who I otherwise like, are the ones that say things like “anyone who actually believes so and so, is an idiot.” You can insert either candidate, or their vice-presidential candidate, or any politician for that matter, because if there is one place where it seems all sides come together, it’s in believing it’s okay to bash, not just their candidate’s opponent, but anyone who might consider voting for their candidate’s opponent. You can also insert any other derogatory word in for “idiot”, I’ve seen worse. When people say things like that, do they stop to think they have a 50/50 chance of insulting someone close to them? That, with those odds, they are very likely calling someone they may care about a nasty name? Likewise, that means I have a 50/50 chance of having hateful things said about me, to me, by someone I care about.
I’ve read posts where people say they will “unfriend” other people because they plan on voting for the other guy. First, I don’t have “friends” on facebook that I don’t really consider to be friends in life. Sure, some are friends I haven’t seen for years, or casual friends, but I do consider them all real friends and in my world, friends are supposed to be kind to each other, even if they have differences. I even saw one person who said they’d “unfriend” someone because they mentioned they watched a particular news network. Why bother “friending” them in the first place? I would hope that if you would call someone friend, they’d have a greater value than what television show they watch. I want to make myself clear. I don’t think these people are “idiots”, or anything else like that, but I can’t help but be disappointed, because I know these people are kind in other aspects of their life, and are simply caught up in the fervor of this election.
So what about the person who watches all the news networks, and listens to both sides? Are they accepted by all, or hated by all? I found myself hesitant to say anything political in nature, for fear someone might “unfriend” me. It saddens me that I can’t be honest about my opinion to my friends, the people who are supposed to accept me regardless.
What’s even more amazing, and sadly disturbing to me, is that many of the people who are making the most noise, are those who have themselves, or have family members who have, at some point in their life, faced discrimination or hate. I want to know why it seems completely okay to hate either republicans or democrats in general, but not gays, blacks, whites, or any other group? We all have a right to our political opinion, and we have a right to voice it. But that doesn’t mean it’s right to throw insults and hate at people simply because, they too, are exercising their right to vote for or support whichever candidate they feel will better serve the country.
The other day, a local radio station who hosts social interventions, made an intervention call to a man. His brother was begging him to leave politics at the door when coming to a nephew’s birthday party. It seems at every family function, a fight ensues over politics, provoked by this man. He asked in the interest of the child, whose birthday would be celebrated, that for once the subject of politics be banned. He said if not, his brother was not welcome. Isn’t this child, this family, more important than who’s voting for who?
Lately it’s everywhere I go. It’s on the internet, it’s on television, it’s in the grocery store, it’s standing in line at the bank, at the post office, it’s at work. It’s always been on awards shows, which is why I rarely watch them. Trust me, I will base my political opinion on my own research, not on what the clerk at the store says, or my coworker says, or what the movie-star-of-the-week says. It’s not like I’m just hearing rational discussion about the issues, most of what I’ve been hearing of late, is hate, pure and simple.
Just when my heart was aching about the lack of humanity in the human race, I was visited by three ghosts…no not ghosts, even though these people are sometimes hard to see. Perhaps they could be called three angels (but I don’t really want to go there, because if there is a topic that runs second to politics that might get you metaphorically lynched, it’s religion). Let’s just say three good Samaritans.
All three incidents happened on the last three times I went shopping at Aldi. I bet you didn’t know they carried Samaritans there, hey?
The first incident was when I had an overloaded cart full of purchases, some of them quite heavy. I was trying to keep the cart from rolling away with one foot, while loading the packages in the car. An elderly gentleman came over and said “Let me help you with that.” Then he started loading my packages into my car. I was touched. I felt like I should be helping this gentleman lift heavy packages instead of vice-versa. I thanked him profusely, not just because I always thank someone who lends me a hand, but because I was surprised by his kindness. Surprised, because I had started to doubt.
The second time I was at Aldi, it was a simpler kind act, but a kind act all the same. I had bumped a display. It wasn’t anything earth shatteringly embarrassing. It was just some boxes of powdered apple cider mix, and about 6 or 7 of them hit the floor. The store was packed with people (it was a Saturday) and most of them just looked at me as I bent down to pick them up. One woman rushed over and started picking up the boxes with me. It wasn’t a huge gesture, yet it was. Unfortunately, the rest of the people just stood there and watched both of us, but it was nice to know that someone was willing to lend a hand to a stranger.
My third Aldi experience happened last night. Again, this wasn’t someone dashing out to save me from a speeding car, it was just someone being nice. I had finished loading my car and had started to push my cart back to the front of the store. There was an older gentleman who was walking toward me from the front of the store. He said “let me take that for you” as he dug a quarter out of his pocket to hand to me. For any of those who haven’t been to Aldi, you put a quarter in a slot to get a cart, which you get back when you return the cart to the front of the store. It’s not unusual for people to take your cart and give you a quarter, if they happen to be heading to the store to shop anyway and need a cart. I assumed that was the case this time, but as I watched, I realized that it was not. This gentleman wasn’t going into the store, he had been heading out. He handed me a quarter, then pushed my cart up to the front of the store, then turned around to go to his car. He took the time to dig out a quarter, so he could walk out of his way, just to take my cart back for me.
It’s the generosity of these three people that has given back to me the hope that our society isn’t going to hell-in-a-handbasket, as previous generations have often said. There is a lot of hate out there, but there is kindness too.
My message to my friends, co-workers, associates, and people in general is to be careful in what you say or do. It’s the people, (sometimes even strangers) in your life that mean the most. People. They are more important than politics, religious affiliation, skin color, sexual orientation, gender, type of music they listen to, types of clothes they wear, etc. It’s okay to state your opinion, but do it with kindness. I’m sure some of my friends will recognize themselves in this story. I hope they don’t take it as an assault on them. Think of it as a mini intervention. I still consider them my friend, because friends deserve second chances. I still consider them friends whether they vote for my guy or the other guy. What I hope they take away from this is that I know they are good people, but sometimes, in the heat of the moment, even good people say things without thinking it through. Think before you speak, or type, as the case may be. Is what you are saying a comment on the issues or is it a personal insult? It doesn’t matter who’s in office, if we as human beings can’t learn to get along, even if we are all different, the world will never be a better place. And my feelings really get hurt when my friends call me names, and since I have friends on both sides of the aisle, I do get called names, at least 50% of the time.