This morning I read a thread that made me want to cry. It was originally a very strongly worded pro-vaccine post, and below one anti-vaccine mom tried to politely give her stance. Mom after mom ganged up on her, correcting her, but with barbed comments about not loving her child enough, or emoticons laughing at genuine things she was saying. I had so much admiration for how well she held it together. She was even brave enough to come out and say that it wasn’t ok how they were treating her, only to be met with mockery about that too.
The sad thing is, I see this EVERY DAY. Every day I see a new post of two different sides of an argument, the side that considers themselves smarter than the other pummels the person who holds the minority opinion. It happens on anti-vaccine sites too. The anti-vaccine moms can throw down with the best of them-on the posts and groups that are made for them. The cry it out moms do it to the attachment parents, the car seat safety moms do it to any mom who didn’t know a rule out of thousands, the rich moms do it to the poor moms, the poor moms do it to the rich moms, the Montessori parents do it to the Waldorf parents who do it to the public school parents who do it to the private school parents. And so on.
Even I am guilty of it, though I do my best not to be. I have ruined friendships over judging their parenting choices. I have been awkward and condescending when someone told me what they did with their kid, or when they treated them a certain way in front of me, or when they treated my kid in that way in front of me. You know what, it wasn’t worth it. These were amazing people that I was unkind to, and they didn’t deserve it. They are doing their best with the information they have been given, just like I am.
It even goes beyond mommy wars, it’s the war between people. Non-gamers do it to gamers, people of different religions do it to each other, people of the same religion do it to each other, people in different neighborhoods, different backgrounds, different jobs, different races, different sexes, different preferences on sex, sexuality, sex education.(sex is particularly polarizing.)
I take the route that I feel is the safest most of the time. I just stay out of it. I don’t want to argue with you, or your friends, about whichever new thing it is. I don’t want to bully or pummel or be bullied or pummeled or whatever word you use for it. Maybe I am a snowflake, but if that means that I am kinder to people for it, then that’s what I am going to be. I ask you to join me. Be kind to yourself and those around you. If you disagree, put yourself in their shoes before you make fun of them or attack their character. Realize that everyone here is just doing their best, and we may disagree sometimes, but we are all just trying to get through life with a thousand different things beating us up along the way. Don’t be one more thing that hurts somebody. Maybe when you see a conversation like this, just send some love and light into the situation, or when you give your own opinions add some compassion to your post. Maybe think about how you would feel if you were in the same situation instead of assuming you know everything.
In The Grace of Enough by Haley Stewart, the author talks about how the internet has created a throwaway culture of people. Getting away from someone you disagree with is as easy as a click of a button, bullying or being rude is too, even if it is unintentional, which is easy in a world of emoticons and tone less typed words. I can say from personal experience that there is something different that happens when you live in community with people. You HAVE to make it work with those people, or your every day life is hell. You are forced to make up from fights because you can’t just give them the silent treatment forever because they are in your lunch line and it’s freaking awkward. The people around you want you to make it better because it sucks for everyone. There is pressure to fix the relationship or to be kind in the first place. That doesn’t exist online, there’s no security to relationships or conversations on the internet. Personally, I am striving to value every single person as much as if we were in person all the time. That doesn’t mean I have to be best friends with everyone, but it does mean that I am trying to treat people like real people, not faces on the internet. If you knew you had to see that person every day for the rest of your life, would you be that rude to them? Would you hurt them life that? To be fair, sometimes that makes it worse, sometimes it gets harder not to judge when you see a mom with her kids every single day and she does things so differently than you. You might feel like she’s not as a good a mom, or they aren’t as good of a person, or they aren’t trying as hard as you. You might even see them succeeding or failing at something that you do not succeed or fail at and that might make you angry, bitter, jealous, sad, or lonely, but here’s the thing, there is something that you succeed or fail at that makes them feel all the same emotions.
My favorite saying of all time is “Be kind. You will never know how much the person beside you is suffering.” Live that truth. Live like you have seen them crying alone in the chapel at night. Live like you have seen them love like no one else. Live like you have seen the best and worst in them and still love them. Love every single person with unconditional love, even the ones you don’t want to.
Meredith Grey loved the serial killer(Greys Anatomy-Season 5), can you?