He looked so handsome with the handgun he found hidden on a shelf

He aimed it at his mirror and whispered yippee ki-yay, motherfucker! to himself

He looked so handsome with the handgun he considered taking it to school

Girls would finally notice him, they’d all think he was so cool

All the guys would gather ’round, begging to be friends 

He’d let them take turns holding it, the attention would never end

Maybe he’d leave it in his backpack for protection when he’s chased

Instead he raised it to his head, and blew off half his face

He looked so handsome with the handgun he found hidden on a shelf

Advertisements


I’m probably overreacting. It’s probably no big deal. This too shall certainly pass. Still, I’m genuinely concerned about the direction our country is heading. What direction, you ask? Increasing violence? Decreasing human rights? Social security running out? Healthcare in limbo? The economy? The threat of terrorism? These are all extremely valid concerns, but I’m most troubled by how we seem to be losing any interest in kindness and mutual respect, and seem to get off on being hateful. 

For the record, I’m not attacking or blaming any one group. I can point a finger at Republicans, Democrats, Christians, Muslims, Jews, athiests, jocks, freaks, nerds, and geeks. Oh, and even me. We all seem to be on the bandwagon of hate — even if we don’t see it, or worse, somehow justify it. Is this magnified and blown out of proportion by the media? Definitely. However, is it real? You better believe it. 

We live in a time when our president tweets hateful messages on a daily basis, religious leaders post discriminatory messages on Facebook, and the news media is on the constant lookout for any controversial, disappointing, or downright hateful news. We are possibly as divided nationally as we’ve been since the Civil War, and there is little evidence indicating improvement anytime soon. I truly fear that in the not too distant future it will be considered acceptable for bank tellers to look us in the eyes, smile, and say, “Thanks so much for banking with us, and go fuck yourself.” 

Despite our very serious problems, all hope is not yet lost. I know for a fact that there are great people doing incredible things every day. We may not all share the same political, religious, or economic views, but there are people putting kindness first. Every single day. It’s not sexy, it’s not popular, but it’s happening, and it needs to get noticed. It needs attention so it can gain traction. This matters — maybe more than anyone realizes. 

It’s not always easy to be genuinely kind and respectful. In fact, it’s damn hard. It’s far easier to lash out, to try to prove a point, to try to make someone feel small, while we make ourselves feel clever. I struggle with it regularly. Taking the high road is sometimes an agonizing climb, but I’m always proud of myself for getting to the top. What people forget — or maybe haven’t learned — is that it feels good to be kind, even to people you disagree with or simply don’t like. If we truly gave everyone a chance, we might just discover that we get along with far more people than we thought. 

I think I was born a realist. I know we will never see eye to eye on everything or be just like one another. Man, I’m glad because life would be awfully boring. I’ve chosen to be an optimist, partly because it just feels better, but also because it forces me work at being a better person. I hope we (and we includes me) can put an effort towards being kind and respectful, because we are all in this together. This is life people, it’s not a drill. Can we agree to stop judging those who are different? Can we let people — as long as they are not directly harming anyone — do what makes them happy? Can we not only accept those who are different from us, but actually wish them the best, and then expect the same in return? 

We all think our opinion is right. We all have beliefs we think others should follow. Many see this as conviction, a positive, the only way. I will continue to do my best to make my conviction kindness. When I’m kind and respectful I always feel like I’m doing what’s right. 

If we care about our nation’s well-being, I hope we will not just agree to disagree, but learn to sincerely respect each other and be honestly kind to one another. This isn’t easy and won’t happen overnight. It takes practice. It requires trying to see the world through the eyes of others, even if we don’t always like the view. We can choose kindness. Don’t jump ship — we can change our course — it’s not too late. However, it’s a big ship, it’s a pain in the ass to steer, and we all must have a hand on the helm. 

Let me preface this post by saying that it is very important to me to be a person who doesn’t judge, or seem judgmental, towards others.  However, it is more important to me that I defend what I think is right – or stand up against what I believe to be wrong.  I hope readers agree.

This morning I read two disturbing blog posts from Amanda Goodman, an anchor with KWWL Channel 7 News, located somewhere in Iowa.  I encourage everyone to read the posts “We are PARENTS – not FRIENDS” and “The ‘Entitlement Generation'” on Amanda’s cleverly named blog, Anchor Mom.  The gist of these blogs (or my interpretation, at least) is that parents today are too easy on their children, and that kids these days have a sense of entitlement, don’t respect adults or authority figures, are praised rather than challenged, and are basically “spoiled, entitled brats.”  Although broad generalizations (and something every generation in history has said about its youth), all ideas I might tend to agree with on the surface.  Wait, though, she also indicates that it is okay to physically abuse your kids (insert the “record scratching to a stop” noise here).

While Amanda claims her parents didn’t “beat” her, she proudly writes about being “hit with a wooden spoon,” and how she “got the back of (her) mom’s hand to (her) mouth” if she back-talked, and that one crazy time when she missed curfew so her mother grabbed her hair and “literally ripped (her) out of the car…(with) a good grasp on (her) scalp…nails digging into (her) head…”  All of these examples are apparently just Amanda’s ideas of good parenting, since she goes on to state that “I am thankful I was raised the way I was raised in the era I was raised in.”  (Yes, she used the word “raised” three times here.)  She also writes, “Clearly (my parents) did something right (with a happy face/winking emoticon).  And let’s be real for a minute, it wasn’t all about a wooden spoon.  It was about manners and respect.”

Amanda, may I suggest (actually, recommend) that you can teach manners and respect without physically hurting your children?  It’s my opinion that hitting is an indication that the parent doesn’t have the patience to properly discipline their kids.  As a result, the easiest (and probably most self-gratifying) thing to do is to lash out at the child who is acting up.  You say your parents didn’t beat you, but getting back-handed regularly (or ever) is abuse in my book.  You say it teaches respect, but I believe it teaches the opposite of respect – it teaches a child that it is acceptable to hurt someone if they do something the child doesn’t like.  Abuse at home is a leading cause of bullying at school, but I’m sure you already know this from your anti-bullying efforts, which your station’s website mentioned.  Abused children are also more likely to become abusive parents.  Hopefully you haven’t already discovered this.

Suzy Kassam said, “Stand up for what is right, regardless of who is committing the wrong.”  I’m not saying, Amanda, that your parents were horrible people or that they didn’t care for you, but they were abusive.  I know you will probably continue to disagree with my opinion that what they did was wrong.  Despite this, I at least hope you don’t (mis)treat your own children the way you were (mis)treated.  You don’t have to hurt kids to avoid “send(ing) spoiled, entitled brats into the world.”  I’m no expert on child abuse, and I’m far from a perfect parent or person.  However, I’m a good enough parent and person to know that if I ever see you yanking your child from a car by the hair, you will have to deal with me.