I thought it appropriate to feature a short article I wrote while creating the Reflections on the Dance website, as our first official blog entry here. I just came across this today and had not even remembered I had written it until I read it. It’s an important, timeless message that still is relevant, even now, nearly 2 years later.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but in many ways, we have become a society that is, to put it bluntly, unkind and apathetic.
Those who know me well know that this is a major pet peeve of mine, so they won’t be surprised that I decided to write about it.
We say mean, unkind and hurtful things about other people. A lot. Some are people we know, but many times, it’s about people that we don’t know, at all. People we think we know because we listen to what is being said about them (many times by others who are just as clueless as ourselves and don’t know the person), rather than ever trying to get to know or understand them ourselves. We spew angry words, unkind things and hate.
Politicians, celebrities, the neighbor down the street that we have never taken the time to get to know, all become fodder for our discussions, our hate, our disapproval and our sense of self-righteousness.
We log on to our computer screens and internet blogs, Twitter, Facebook and chat rooms and post hurtful, awful, disgusting comments all under the guise of anonymity.
We are content to sit back in front of our television screens, our radios and our computer screens and let the media tell us how we should fell, what we should think and how anyone who has a different opinion than ours, and especially a different opinion than theirs, is to be ridiculed and condemned. There are definite “sides” and when two sides come together, there is a sense of spontaneous combustion.
Sharing opinions is a good thing. Saying angry, unkind things about others, isn’t. Not only because it can hurt the other people who have become the targets of this lack of civility, but also because, believe it or not, it hurts us in the long run…as individuals, and as a society.
I’ve always been sensitive to this, but it has become even more of an issue for me due to what I have been spending a majority of my time on recently….(I was referring to the website which has now become known as Reflections on the Dance.
I’m working on a major project right now (see site above) that has affected me deeply on this subject. This person, via the media and the public, was ridiculed and criticized mercilessly and it had a major impact on this individual’s life.
Why did the media and the public condemn him? Simply because they didn’t understand, they didn’t take the time to get to know this person or they simply thought it was entertaining to do so. More ratings and money for them.
Discussing this person (Michael Jackson) became a form of entertainment. Despite the fact that he put himself out there and allowed people to get to know him if they would just bring themselves to see past the sensational headlines, but most never took the time. Michael, because of this, endured more than most of us have had to, and yet, remained humble, kind and caring.
“‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.” ~ Leviticus 19:18
We heard unkind monikers attached to this person and his name. We heard crazy stories. We believed. We made jokes. We passed on the inaccurate information to our family and friends. It entertained us and made us feel better about ourselves.
Why is it that when we put others down, we tend to feel a sense of superiority? We’ve all been guilty of it at one time or another, myself included. It’s human nature, unfortunately. We think it has no real consequence other than blowing off steam or expressing our opinions, but, the truth is, there are dire consequences when we take part in this behavior. We hurt others and we hurt ourselves individually, and also our families, our friends and society as a whole.
In the project I’m working on (now known as Reflections, the site was only begun at this point and had no name), we hurt a person deeply who gave more than most and who was kind, humble, caring and spiritual. We didn’t seem to care. Our entertainment and our willingness to just go along with the crowd and say hurtful things, spread rumors and read the trash magazines was just fine with us. It didn’t matter that another human being was being hurt.
That saddens me that as human beings, that we allow ourselves to think and behave this way. I suppose that’s been the case since the beginning of time. The human condition has always made us at odds with one another and with our Creator.
Some questions I’d like to pose:
What if it was you? What if the rumors, the stories, the lies, the unkind remarks, were about you? Could you handle it? How would you feel? How would you react? I bet, in fact, that you can probably think of a time in your life where you’ve had to endure lies being said about you.
This is especially pertinent now as this has happened to so many in the Michael Jackson community…those fighting for truth and justice as well as fan against fan. We need to pay attention and stop the cycle.
Truth is, it doesn’t matter if the person is physically there to hear what is being said about them or not. The words we put out there affect our lives and the lives of others. What we say and listen to and read and hear, becomes what we think…and what we think turns into action and becomes the way we live our lives. It becomes our internal compass. Our thoughts directly affect our actions.
Haven’t you ever been in a great mood and then had someone angry dump on you and you end up feeling angry yourself? I know I have! What we think and what we’re surrounded by directly and profoundly, affects us.
If we spend our precious, God-given time on this earth saying unkind things about others, we are wasting that precious time we’ve been given that instead could be used doing something positive. We are missing out on hearing our own callings and using our own God-given talents and abilities. Time wasted that could otherwise be used to show love, to show caring and concern, to help someone else. Time that could be used to appreciate all of the beauty that we are surrounded by that God has given us to enjoy and to protect.
The subject of my project was asked at one point if he was a prayerful person. He replied “Definitely!” and went on to say how whenever he sees the beautiful colors of a butterfly’s wings, a breathtaking sunset or a baby smiling, he says “Thank you God!” He was truly grateful for even the seemingly small things in life. Especially for the truly small things in life.
Imagine how much more beautiful life would be, how much more beautiful this world would be, if we all took the time every day to see the beauty in this world, in life, in other people, and, instead of ridiculing, thanked God for what He has given to us. The more time we spend being thankful, the less time we allow anger, hurt, resentment and lack of kindness to take hold of our hearts.
Michael knew this.
Love Your Neighbor As Yourself
Jesus engaged in much public debate with the Pharisees and Sadducees, two Jewish factions that opposed Him and his teachings. It was during one of these debates that Jesus stated the Greatest Commandment:
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (NIV, Mark 12:28-31).
Source for the 2 paragraphs above: http://www.twopaths.com/greatest.htm