Just be (effing) nice to people

December 20, 2013 LifeThoughts  One comment

Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.
Desmond Tutu

When I was in elementary school, I went to the local skating rink The Great Skate almost every single weekend with my best friend and her dad. If you went on Sunday afternoons, which we always did, you got a ticket for a free hot dog, bag of chips, and a drink.

I remember it smelled like old socks, even older carpet, and the worst kind of concession food, but that didn’t matter because the referee – jersey wearing employees were always older hott teenage boys and the music was awesome (straight off NOW! That’s What I Call Music 3).

Really takes you back, doesn't it? interskate.net

Really takes you back, doesn’t it?
interskate.net

But one day, in between Smash Mouth, Backstreet Boys, and Marc Anthony, from my spot on the carpeted side of the concrete half-wall, I vividly remember seeing a boy in a red polo shirt and small black afro skating slowly on the outside edge of the rink, holding on to the wall as he went. I noticed the tell-tale sign of cognitive and physical deficiencies (the politically correct way of saying mental retardation) in the bend of his arm that kept his hand tucked into his chest, the uncontrollable flapping of his other arm, and the incomprehensible babble (to the untrained ear) spilling from his lips.

But that’s not what I saw. I saw a boy with the biggest smile on his face as he slowly but surely moved one foot in front of the other. I saw him squeal with delight as he moved to the music (and let me tell you, the boy was downright busting a move) and took part in what everyone else was doing. I saw the pure joy and bliss radiating from him.

And then, as I scanned the rest of the rink, my eyes fell on a group of four glossy-lipped girls with scrunchies wrapped around their roller skates (pray tell, why was that ever the cool thing to do?) who were looking and pointing in the same direction as I was. They were blatantly laughing at the boy in the red polo shirt in the cruelest of ways, mocking the way his arms moved and the noises he made. My heart filled with such red-hotted hate and sadness in that moment and I remember I had to blink back the angry tears that threatened to spill over.

Because why the hell did they have to be so mean? My mind just couldn’t understand why they couldn’t just let him do his thing in peace. Brother-man was just grooving and having a good ol’ time just like every other single person in the room was doing. So why did they feel the need to mock and tease him? Because he was different? That was a reason to make fun of someone?

I should’ve gone over to the Regina George of their group and punched her in the face (or at least called her out), but alas, they were a grade older than me, I was a small eight year old with literally no muscle mass, and I was told that punching people was not polite and since I was a good girl, I followed the rules.

But I should’ve done something. I saw what they were doing and I should’ve done something. Because inaction is an action unto itself.

The only good thing about this story is that I don’t think he ever noticed what those mean girls were doing, and as far as I know, enjoyed himself for the rest of the day.

But this story leads me to say something that has been laying on my heart for quite a while now: just be effing nice to people.

Maybe you don’t know this,  maybe you’ve been taught not to care, or maybe you don’t realize how hurtful words and actions can be, so I’m here to tell you – you do not have the right to tease, mock, make fun of, harass, bully, or take part in any other mean-spirited action towards people who are different from you. You do not have the right to bring someone down because they don’t look like you think they should, or because they wear clothes that are different from yours, or they’re not as attractive as you are, or because they wear a hijab to cover their hair, or they talk differently from you, or celebrate a different religion or worldview than you, or because they have an arm full of tattoos, or because they’re sexual orientation is different from yours, or because their skin color is different, or are from a different social class than you are. You do not have the right.

I’ve been called too-sensitive. I’ve been told I care too much, that I over-empathize with others pain to the point where I take it on as my own cross to bear. I’ve been told this is a bad thing. I’ve been told that getting upset about the bad things in the world makes me weak. I’ve been told I should toughen up, keep my head down, and not pay attention to the cries for help or the brokenness of the world.

But I just can’t.

And you shouldn’t either.

Because when we stop caring, darkness wins.

And darkness should not win because the goodness, light, and love we have inside of us has the potential to banish the darkness and hurt we all carry around. (And because Tolkien says so.)

I don’t have to tell you that there is a lot of pain and suffering in the world. You probably have the scars to prove it. If you can, reach back into your memory and remember those dark, sad moments. Was there someone there to help you up? Was there someone there whose kindness and love gave you strength to push forward? If there wasn’t, don’t you wish there would have been?

You can be that person for someone else. So I challenge you throughout this holiday season and futhermore, to go above not being hurtful – to reaching out and being kind to others. It’s not that hard.

It’s as simple as smiling at the man bringing in the carts from the parking lot when you go grocery shopping (because you think you’ve had a tough day – I assure you, theirs is not a whole lot better) or asking the lonely old man at the restaurant you eat at how his day is going. It’s letting the car next to you get over without cussing them out, it’s letting the mom with three kids go before you in line,  it’s tipping your waitress more than you should, it’s being nice even when someone is being rude to us. It’s not taking out our frustrations on others, it’s being compassionate, it’s being aware that everyone you see is fighting their own battles and carrying their own baggage. It’s recognizing that as much as people like to think they don’t, people need other people. It’s just how we’re built.

So stop being such an asshole. I know you’re so busy and so important, but just smile every once in a while – it really brightens up other peoples days. It says to them, “Hey man, I see you. I acknowledge you.” And sometimes that one small act of kindness is all we need to get through the day. Plus, research shows us that by moving our facial muscles into a smile, it tricks our brains into thinking we’re happy.

So in the spirit of the holiday and the power of love, I leave you with this quote by Jordan Lejuwaan:

Wherever life takes you, leave the place shaking, disrupted, and trying to imagine what it was like before you came. Be a force for change. For pondering. And re-pondering. For love and the belief in the good of people. Go forth and be a force of the awesome. Do epic, terrifying, unheard of shit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheers to you and yours this holiday season. I hope this finds you in the company of warm sweaters, friends and family, good booze, even better food, and lots of presents.

Stay tuned. I’ll be back January 3rd with the first post, in what I hope, will be a series on The Creative Process.

Until next year, farewell, and may your life never cease to be filled with wonder and curiosity.

 

 

 

Share Button

One comment to Just be (effing) nice to people

Leave a reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>