I was talking with my daughter recently. She told me a friend had made a comment to her, and she'd thought nothing of it; then afterwards, the friend pointed out that the comment had been meant as an insult. My daughter's response, was, "Okay." And she moved on. Her question to me was this, "Mommy, should I have been offended? She said she was insulting me, but I didn't get it and didn't care either." I was moved by this simple, yet profound response. I smiled and said "your response was perfect".
It was an innocent interaction between a lovely group of girls, but it struck me. One might say the comment "went over her head", but it didn't. I've raised her to be aware, but not to look for offenses. I've also worked to enforce that her self confidence isn't built by cutting others down, and to look for good in others rather than something to be offended by.
On a deeper level, our culture has become one that thrives on offense. The livelihood of some in the news and entertainment industry depend on it. Late night comedy and daytime talk shows wouldn't exist without it, followed by the obligatory "ba-dum-ching" snare of the drums. Once objective journalism has become an arena where those in a position to educate and inform, use their platform instead to attack and destroy with jokes and snide remarks. Our society has become a breeding ground for egos fed by individuals' ability to cut others with witty sarcasm, criticism and judgment. In the same vein, people are looking to be offended. I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "Girl, did you hear what she just said?" or "Did you see what he did?" Yes, I observe, but most times, I'm too busy working on my own shit to be thinking about other people's business. Ain't nobody got time for that! This culture of hurting others affects us all detrimentally, on a collective subconscious level. Here's food for thought:
1) Build, Don't Destroy. Making fun of others is destructive. Hurting others isn't good. It feeds insecurity and challenges people face - bullying, depression, eating disorders -- causes stress and can lead to disease. We're teaching children that being a wise ass is cute; they learn to be tough, or be eaten alive. Don't get me wrong - it is important to have discernment, but I refuse to change the perspective I've always held - that there's nothing funny about making someone feel bad. It's just...not...nice.
2) Be Someone Who Likes Yourself. People who criticize others often don't like who they are; and people who are happy usually don't spend a time picking others apart. A few years ago, my daughter was having problems with a classmate who made fun of her curly hair. I told her to ignore him. The teasing continued. So, I told her to ask the kid if he liked himself, because people who liked themselves don't pick on other people. She did. The bully was so taken aback that he was unable to respond. I'm not implying that it's always that easy, but my goal was to teach the bully a lesson - which was to look inside of himself to find the cause of his pain. Maybe, then he would change his behavior. Hurt people hurt others. If something about someone is bothering you, fix yourself first.
3) Choose Your Perspective. We're all on a journey and have flaws, but when you look for good, it shows up. Abraham Hicks posits that as you look for evidence of things, you'll see more evidence of it. Find something to complain about and it shows up, but find something good in someone, and watch them blossom and glow. C.S. Lewis said, "What you see and hear depends a great deal on where you're standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are".
4) Be a Warrior. Love is A Warrior's Sword. Everyone's fighting their own battle. There is a Liberian proverb which says, "What's fun to the little boy is death to the frog." It means that while something may be entertaining to you, it could be the killing someone else. The ripple effect of your actions could be the difference between someone choosing to pick up a gun and hurt his/herself - or others. Dr. King said, "Love's the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend." Love can heal. It starts with you.
5) "Be Kind Whenever Possible. It's Always Possible."(Dalai Lama). Kindness is attractive. There's nothing attractive about gossip and sarcasm. One of the most beautiful things about a person is when you can see goodness radiate from their soul. I've seen people, lined and gray, who have a youthful sweetness, that enables them to maintain an eternal beauty. Unhappiness, anger and pain, will age you. What's within shows without. Goodness is beautiful. Poet, Mark Nepo, says "Kindness is a way of life". I love that!
Your life is a legacy. Choose your actions wisely. Much love to all!