Well, it’s one of those years again. Election year. From now until November we’re going to get our share of negativity regarding this person or that person because of what they believe, either politically or socially.
We are going to suffer through endless negative attacks on politicians, not just from columnists, but from friends and neighbors and occasionally the random stranger who has to make sure we all know, without question, what he or she thinks about a politician, an issue, or even a person in general. We’ll hear questionable rumors about some candidate’s past or questions about their present-day conduct. Some of it will be true and is a legitimate topic of discussion and worthy of questions. Some of it will be filled with half-truths and half-innuendos. Not enough of an untruth to make you disbelieve it, but just enough of the truth mixed with information that isn’t so that you form an inaccurate opinion of someone. And some of what you hear will be outright lies based not on what someone knows firsthand, but, in a way that small towns seem to perfect so well, what a friend of a friend of a family member knows or heard so it must be true. Of course, none of this is new. It just happens to go hand in hand with election years and, unless human nature radically changes, will happen again in two years.
In this upcoming year of negativity, and downright hate on the part of a few, I think it might be good for us to pause and remember the kindness of our friends and neighbors. In recent years, coincidentally with the rising popularity of social media, people have become extreme and, to be frank, rather hateful towards others with whom they have a difference of opinion or belief. The ability to be anonymous on the Internet has added fuel to this as people can post on various gossip websites (often multiple times under different registered usernames) without any fear of repercussion. After all, no one knows it’s you who did it; so you can say anything you want, as salacious and false as it is and no one will ever know it’s you. Well, at least no one that doesn’t put the time into trying to find out. Anyone who knows anything real about the Internet knows that nothing is ever truly anonymous and if someone wants to find out who is actually posting anonymously, it’s not very difficult to find out with a little effort.
But I digress. The point is that negativity and hate seem to have become the norm in this new digital age, and it more often than not forms many of our uneducated opinions of others we barely know or don’t know at all. We have all been guilty of this. Some much more than others, but we have all fallen victim to this nonsense. It’s human nature. We believe the negativity because it’s easy and gossip is a commodity.
Page 2 of 3 - I would like to share with you a story I came across on Facebook this morning from a local friend. I’ve changed some of the information to protect their privacy, but the point of the story is what’s important.
Now, my friend is not a wealthy person by any means. She makes a living and can afford a few things now and then, but mostly she just gets by – a story familiar to many of us in this community. On one of our recent winter weather days, she had intended to go to a fast-food restaurant for her lunch break from work, but because of the weather, opted to go to a nearby grocery store instead. When she was in line, she realized she had forgotten her wallet at work, so she ran back to get it. When she returned, the woman who had been behind her in the checkout line was paying for her items. Coincidentally, this same woman had allowed my friend to go in front of her because she had fewer items. The woman asked the cashier about the price of some gloves. When she learned the gloves were $4, she handed the gloves back and said she couldn’t afford them.
“Ma’am, do you have some gloves?” my friend asked her.
“No, but I can’t waste $4 when I have pockets,” the woman responded.
“Ma’am, I promise I’m not being rude, but I didn’t ask if you could afford them. I asked if you had gloves. It’s very cold,” said my friend, to which the woman responded, “No, I don’t.”
My friend immediately told the cashier to add the gloves to her total.
“You don’t have to do that. Really, why would you?” said the woman.
“Because at the moment, I can,” responded my friend.
Now seeing that story struck me today. For any of you who have ever paid attention at some of our local grocery stores, you’ll notice this isn’t unique. I’ve done it when I was in a similar situation and had a little extra in my account that wasn’t going to a necessity. I’m sure any employee who works at our local grocery stores can tell you countless stories of this same situation happening that they have witnessed. I’m also sure many who work for our various charities here and around the country have witnessed countless acts of kindness very similar.
So in this election year when we are going to be bombarded with people telling us how bad other people are, lets keep stories like these in our mind. No matter what our political stances, social beliefs, religious beliefs (or lack thereof), or just general opinions on anything, we are all human beings and, for the most part, we are good. All of us.
Page 3 of 3 - Now, granted, some people are so incredibly hateful and nasty that you would be hard pressed to find that good, but it’s in there, I assure you. Somewhere. When we are taken out of politics and stupid Internet memes and we stand face to face with a fellow human being who is in a bad situation, we see the goodness and kindness among strangers. Some of the kindest people I know in this town are the people I should hate and mistrust because political differences and gossip tell me I should. Yes, I’ll tease them about how wrong I think they are, but at heart, they are good and kind people. Their kindness shows in unexpected ways and these people the Internet and politics tells me are demons are people I am proud to call friends. Let’s try to remember that about our fellow human beings in this particular year when others will try to make many of us anything but human.
Contact James Jackson at email@example.com.