People losing their health care is mean. People never having proper health care in the first place is mean.
Bullying your political opponents is mean. Bullying anyone is mean.
Raising yourself up by putting someone else down is mean.
Being powerful and abusing your power is mean.
Suppressing the voice, sentiment, vote and opinions of others is mean.
Belittling women is mean. Belittling anyone is mean.
Hate crimes, anti-Semitism, racism, sexism, homophobia is mean.
Protecting yourself is not mean. Shooting innocent people with assault rifles is mean.
Refusing to do anything about gun violence is mean.
Taking gay, lesbian and transgender people out of the census is mean. How can you have equality if you can’t be counted?
Taunting and discriminating against transgender people is mean. Taunting and discriminating against anyone is mean.
Not striving for a better environment or denying the existence of global warming is mean.
Many people are mean all the way up to the moment they feel their mortality ending. They then rush to donate money to charity and shower loved ones they had ignored for decades with affection as though it’s their last dash to heaven, not hell.
I gotta think that if we are judged, it’s based on how we lived the entirety of our lives, not the last 5%.
These days, we seem to be in a sea of mean. It feels like the rivers and oceans are overflowing in mean.
We shout out, “Where did all this cruelty come from? Don’t our politicians care about us at all?”
But mean is nothing new.
Julius Caesar, Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Genghis Khan, Queen Mary 1 (bloody Mary) in ever generation villains and villainesses are born.
So what is the cure (if there is one) for mean?
The simple answer is, of course, love. Maybe that bully or dictator might have turned out a bit better if he or she had been showered with love as child.
I remember a horrifying bully in grammar school who marched into school every day not to learn but to look for someone smaller than him to torment. Years later, I found out his father was abusing him at home. Might he have been a nice little boy if that father had showered him with love instead of fists?
It’s hard to believe that any amount of love might have knocked the mean out of Hitler. Some people are just plain crazy, but you never know.
But love is a simple answer. I think the real cure to stopping mean is to stop supporting it.
Mean is not just about doling out cruelty; it’s also about the many more sitting idly by and not doing anything while people are discriminated against and families are torn apart.
If the shirt you are about to buy was produced by slave labor, don’t buy it.
If during a political campaign one candidate bullies, abuses, berates and belittles the other don’t vote for them. You can bet a mean candidate will be a mean leader, and it’s only a matter of time before that mean leaks into your life.
Sexual abuse is mean. Any kind of abuse is mean. We saw a slice of anti-mean when sponsors of Fox pulled out to protest Bill OReilly’s behavior. Fox may or may not have cared about how mean he was but sure cared about the dollars.
We’ve seen what heroes of anti-mean look like; John Lennon, Gandhi, Mother Theresa, but there are millions of anti-mean heroes defending kindness every day that are not as famous. That school teacher who takes a stand against bullying or who stays after school to mentor a promising student who just needs someone to believe in him or her.
The parents who cradle their children with so much love that they have a barrier against evil to carry them through their lives. They pass that love forward.
Love has a domino effect. Walk out of your home and smile kindly at a stranger. Give a homeless person a dollar. Hold the door for an elderly person. Donate money to charity.
Volunteer at a soup kitchen. You may feel as though your kindness does not make an impact, but tiny seeds grow a planet of flowers.
It took a lot of years, but we finally understood that smoking is bad for you. A whole lot of people still smoke, but a whole lot more don’t.
Being mean can hurt your health and the health of those around you. It should come with warning labels, too: “May cause sadness, depression and even death.”
I was once on a plane coming back from Austin, Texas, and I listened to two businessmen talking. The one closest to me said to the other; “When I was in college, I was a Democrat. I was always trying to help some cause. Then I got older and started making money. I didn’t want to give my money away to people I don’t know, so I became a Republican.”
Is that what it means to be a Republican? That you don’t want to help strangers? I have to believe there are a whole lot of Republicans out there who don’t feel that way.
Democrats, Republicans and independents … in the end, they seem to all be fighting about money. Do you give it to charity, the arts and the environment? Do you give it to weapons and the military? Do you use it to feed the elderly? Do you use it build walls?
I think if we took a stand against mean, a lot of those battles would dissipate. The answers would be simple. Yes, we want to be kept safe, but we also want to be happy, healthy and fulfilled.
So I call upon you today, whatever you political party is. That’s just a label. To start your own label. Be a warrior in the anti-mean movement.
It seems cool to be mean. “You’re fired” is a whole lot more entertaining than “What can I do to help you?”
But it’s time to change the world.
We can do it. One drop of kindness at a time.