Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Whatever Happened to Being Nice?

I've seen it so much lately, and it scares me.  People being ugly, rude, and intolerant to other people.  It's almost like we can't stand each other, can't stand having another person occupy the same space we do at any given moment.  And if that other person isn't whatever ideal we hold, they are stupid, ugly, worthless, and so on. 

You see it in real life sometimes, through the jeers and sneers people direct at each other.  When a family with a small child enters a restaurant, for example, people stare at them with a look of utter disgust.  Before the child ever even opens his or her mouth!  This hasn't happened to us that I am aware of, but I have seen it happen to other people. 

But online - that's where the real abuse happens.  Facebook comments in particular have gotten so ugly.  Have you ever read the comments on a news story?  Take my advice - just don't.  It's a black hole of the worst of humanity, spewing hatred and rage about whatever they can for no reason at all other than to spew. 

Whatever happened to being nice? 

I have a theory.  If people would show respect for each other, and if people would have compassion and empathy for each other, this would solve a lot of our problems.  Most of our problems.  Shootings at movie theaters?  Wouldn't happen if the shooter had an ounce of compassion for others, or a respect for human life.  We just don't care about each other anymore.  And that's scary. 

I was with a group of friends not too long ago and someone started talking about The Purge.  And the question was asked: If you could kill anyone without repercussions, who would you kill?  No judgment to those in the room who said they had some people in their list (because I know them and I know they wouldn't actually kill anyone even if they had the chance) but I had to say nobody.  I've been mad at people, sure.  I've wished maybe some really unpleasant stomach trouble or something like that on someone when they hurt me, but would I kill someone?  NO.  Because I have respect for human life.  The only way I could see myself wanting to kill someone is if they hurt someone in my family.  And even then, I'm not sure I would be able to do it.  Unless it was in the moment that my kids or someone else I love was being threatened, then I would likely find the strength to pull the trigger.  But random violence?  Or violence toward someone who hurt my feelings?  No. 

So what did this?  How did we get this way?  How are we now in a world where people kill each other for no reason.  Gunmen walk into movie theaters with weapons and hurt or kill strangers.  Kids shoot up classmates at school.  How did we get here? 

I don't know how we got here, but I do know how we get back.  My main goal in life is to raise my boys to not be the kind of people who could ever consider shooting others just because.  (I know mental illness is a big part of this and of course, if either of them ever showed any signs of that I would get them help immediately.)  I think we, as parents, need to pay more attention.  We need to teach compassion, empathy, and respect to our children so that they will not grow up to be callous people who hurt others, whether the weapon is a keyboard or a gun.  And if they do show signs of mental illness, it is our responsibility as parents to take care of that too.  We can change society.  We just have to put in the work.  And you know what?  We need to model the behavior.  We need to show compassion, empathy and respect too.  Be an example of what kind of adult we want them to be.

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