WHEN DOES VILE BRING A SMILE? Coming from a positive person as I am, there are times when I want to tell it like it is. As someone said “It is what it is!” In the last few years, I have watched an erosion of goodness and kindness. Yes, we see the occasional good Samaritan and we ooh and aww at their heroism. We stop for a few seconds on social media, maybe like the post, and maybe even share it and then…..we return to the now common place vulgarity. The thrust of this vile exchange is easily blamed on our current president and without getting political, I want to give a personal opinion. It is coming from places all over this country and the world. To blame one person, one party, one religion, one culture is a vile mistake and I feel this is the basis for this destructive bullying. Yes, I said it. This is the worst kind of bullying and has gone rampant. Today is the day I would like to bring this to the forefront and see how many people think about what is going on in the world. This is not a liberal or conservative stance; it is a moral stance.
Media of all sorts have linked all of us in the world in a seemingly personal but deceivingly impersonal communication. What is the difference? It is such a firestorm resulting in strangers feeling freedom from accountability and consequences from their words.
In a different time in our history, if a person said a minute amount of the words to a person’s face as commonly posted on Twitter, Facebook, and other outlets, someone was going to throw a punch. It was immediate rebuttal and an instant source of accountability. Bystanders might have egged in on but they were in the line of fire so it was more of bystander instead of instigator. Maybe the one who said the vile words threw a few punches back and occasionally it was a free for all. It was settled with the immediate participants and maybe some neighborhood kids and/or adults but it was over. It makes me wonder if we had to face the person we deface in person and would we say the same things we post.
In this current environment and because of the anonymity of social media, which I use and have seen how this vileness can give an unknown person a feel of superiority and entitlement of invasion into personal attacks. What happens now? Let us look at recent events. Two female comedians both attacked two people in the limelight but outside of the entertainment world. Both attacks were vile and unacceptable. Both people exercised their “freedom of speech” but I want to express I felt they showed freedom from respect of others. All of us have people who we don’t especially like or agree with the lifestyle or politics. We have that right and we can in a positive light, choose to not agree with them. I say this in no conversation or disagreement should we become vile ourselves as this only puts us on the lower level of decency. Ponder this, if someone spit in your face, would you want to knock their lights out? Well social incivility is the equivalent of spitting in someone’s face.
What has happened in our world that we can bully others and call them vile names and criticize their looks, hair, weight, culture, religion, and intelligence? When did our military come under attack and our law enforcement? When did we stop being a good samaritan ourselves? When did we become so coldhearted and insensitive we can watch natural disasters or murders only to make snide remarks about “nun-ya” business? When did we become so vocal on everything that someone else does wrong and at the same time feel we are above the law or disrespectful of morality?
I ask these questions to bring some thought-provoking internal mental checks. I have composed a short list of should have and would have checks for us to ponder:
- If the words coming out of my mouth were being said to me or someone I love, how would I like to hear them?
- Is what I am saying to another person meant to encourage or inspire OR do I say them to discourage or destroy this person?
- What would my grandmother or grandfather say in response if they overheard my conversations about someone else?
- Would I allow a child to bully my child or grandchild in the same way that I talk about others or to others?
- Do I think it takes me to a higher level when I use vile or crude language in any conversation?
- Do I feel better or worse after describing or criticizing another person whether I know them or not?
- Do I think before I speak as a proactive statement or a reactive conversation?
- Do I think of the golden rule “In all things, do unto others as you would have others do unto you”?
Golden Rule, precept in the Gospel of Matthew (7:12): “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. . . .” This rule of conduct is a summary of the Christian’s duty to his neighbor and states a fundamental ethical principle. In its negative form, “Do not do to others what you would not like done to yourselves,” it occurs in the 2nd-century documents Didachē and the Apology of Aristides and may well have formed part of an early catechism. It recalls the command to “love the stranger (sojourner)” as found in Deuteronomy. It is not, however, peculiar to Christianity. Its negative form is to be found in Tob. 4:15, in the writings of the two great Jewish scholars Hillel (1st century BC) and Philo of Alexandria (1st centuries BC and AD), and in the Analects of Confucius (6th and 5th centuries BC). It also appears in one form or another in the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Isocrates, and Seneca.
My final thought on this subject is when we return to a place of using our minds instead of our mouths, this world becomes a nicer place. When we find our souls again, and renew our hearts, we become kinder. As my husband said to me, “Character doesn’t cost a penny but it worth millions.” I add to his remarks, “Freedom of speech is not freedom from accountability.”
(C) Copyright 2012-2018 Arline Miller of Sipping Cups of Inspiration with all rights and privileges reserved. Third party material is sourced, if known, to original location for credit references.