That warm feeling spreading across the internet today. It started with an intimate group of friends (namely Yvonne Spencer & the adorable Lizzi Rogers) and took off like wildfire. It spread here and I'm giving it to you. Don't worry it doesn't even burn when you pee. Much. It's #1000Speak day, the day more than 1,000 writers unite! But separately in our own homes like that introvert meme, to put something into the world that feels in short supply:
Before we can expect to suddenly find compassion just magically flowing along the river of molten evil running underneath society that is the internet, I feel it's a good idea to start with empathy. Or at least consideration.
Relax, you know I'm not going to make you actually do anything, or even promise to be a nice person. That sounds like a lot of work, that I'm not cut out for.
All I'm asking you to do? Is consider.
Consider another person's point of view.
Consider that perfectionist at work. The one always half an hour early for work, correcting people's grammar, and pointing out every little flaw while wearing his ironed jeans with the perfectly straight line down the front on Casual Friday.
|If you could go ahead and iron|
YOUR jeans, that'd be great.
Consider whether his parents were extra tough on him. Consider the struggles he may have had in school, which was never as easy as it was for his younger sister. Maybe if he were personable or musically talented, or if anything he ever tried went well, he wouldn't have to constantly double-check every piece of work he comes into contact with, to relentlessly over-achieve. Maybe if his father just once told him he was proud of him, like he does to everyone else, he could give himself a break. He could sleep at night. He could make a marriage work.
Consider the Clean Freak. The neighbor with the sparkly clean car, parked in her meticulously clean driveway next to her perfectly manicured lawn. The one who obsessively washes her hands, and carries her own hand sanitizer everywhere, and has recurring nightmares about public bathrooms.
Maybe all that hand sanitizer works like a child's "Monster Spray" to make her feel she is finally taking control of her fears in some small way. Maybe she wasn't sent here by the devil to make you feel inferior. Maybe she's covering up her own feelings of inferiority. Consider how hard she works to paint that perfect picture, and what's she is trying to hide with all of her constant efforts. She must really have something terrible she doesn't want anyone else to see.
For your consideration, think about the woman who is up on all the gossip. She always has the scoop, will be glad to tell you every moment she's witnessed of other people's misery. Because maybe if she fills her life with everyone else's problems, she can distract others and herself from her own miserable life. And all of her personality flaws that are becoming overwhelming, beyond her control, chasing everyone away.
Consider that woman wearing sooo much makeup, bronzer, or self-tanner she actually looks like a caricature of herself.
|My inner goddess? |
Is also hella ratchet.
She may not have had a role model to explain that she has more to offer then world than her outer appearance.
She may not have siblings to tell her how ridiculous she looks. She may not have a good mirror, or any working lighting in her home. Or a vision plan to get those eyes checked.
Maybe it's soul-crushing low self esteem, maybe it's Maybeline.
Maybe the process of putting all of this on, sometimes again and again before she can go out and face the world, is what she needs to mentally put on a protective barrier over herself. Consider how afraid she must be for the world to see the real her. All of this makes her feel safe, and more comfortable in public. Instead of adding to her insecurity, it would be nice if someone could recognize something positive and tell her about.
Consider why someone would face actual surgery to change their physical appearance. What could make a person hate themselves so much they would pay the price and risk their lives just to change the way they look? Maybe someone who claimed to have loved them worked very hard to take away their confidence, carefully working at their weaknesses, beat them down over time and made them feel ugly beyond repair.
Consider someone who grew up watching what they were given as role models live that kind of life, bringing others down, instead of supporting each other. Meanwhile they paid so very little attention to their child that said child has to go to great extremes just to interact with them. Just to get them to even talk to her. To notice her, or him.
Consider that child, finally getting attention from some other adult, maybe a teacher. The first person that ever made him feel special. An adult who should know better, but is battling their own demons, so loud and so determined the person gets lost, and can no longer make proper decisions. This child and adult connect in a way neither has experienced before. They get the attention each craves, and start an inappropriate relationship.
Consider the series of unfortunate effed up events that could bring people to do something like that with their life.
|*shudder forever* from abcactionnews.com|
Consider a life that has somehow driven a licensed professional to a point where they feel like being with another person is so much better than every other thing in life they risk their job, their very freedom for this relationship. Nothing can keep them from it.
Except for being locked in jail, that is. Locked up with a lot of other people looking for 'love' in all the WRONG places. Sad life doesn't excuse breaking the law, I'm just asking you to consider what atrocities people must have had to endure to get to these places.
You know that terrible waitress, who has been distracted and inattentive throughout your meal? Before you go all Kate Goslin and demand to 'talk to the manger'
|We know someone IRL who has this cut|
and is TOTALLY like this. F'real.
She would get you fired for anything.
Sure there's a chance she may just be a loser crackhead working for cash to avoid the drugsick. But just maybe?
She is just a regular person having the worst day of her entire life and just need someone to give her a break for once.
Now that I mention it, consider the crackhead.
Consider the bartender who keeps disappearing, instead of attentively refilling your drink while you're out with your friends. WTF? Where is she? I need a refill, and she's just gone. Consider that maybe she has to run back and cook food, also, because the deadbeat fry cook is late again. She doesn't want to fill in for the cook, she hates that guy and hates frying bar food. It's smelly, you don't make tips, or even get double pay because if you tell the manager stupid Jay was late again he'll get fired and he has a sick kid he's trying to help care for.
She hates this whole job and this whole place, but she makes enough money to pay her rent by herself, without loud, partying roommates that steal her food. That's more than she can say for all the other 'real jobs' her family keeps trying to make her get. She tried, she did. The copy place paid crap, and that receptionist gig her dad 'pulled some strings to get for her' was a complete nightmare of women hating her, and sleezy guys in suits ogling her and staring at her chest whenever she tried to ask them a question. Only offering to help her with the system if she would have a drink with them after work. Sure, eventually she would get those precious insurance benefits if she stayed, but at the price of every shred of her dignity. And she doesn't even get paid tips. Thanks for the obvious disappointment with my decision though, Dad.
Consider the kid parking your car, or serving your fast food, or selling magazine subscriptions door to door. Consider what series of events made him go from a person who had parents willing to pay for college, to a person out on his own, refusing any help, working for minimum wage just to be able to make his own decisions, and live life on his own terms. Consider quickly as he decides whether it's worth losing his job to punch you in the face for treating him like less than a person. If you're lucky, he will want to keep the job. Do you feel lucky, punk?
Speaking of feeling lucky, consider before you make comments about someone's weight ask yourself if that person may be going through something. Will your words be helping or hurting? Definitely consider whether that person has access to you when you're sleeping, or if that person prepares all of your meals.
Consider the writer who rambles on and on endlessly. Consider whether the environment she has to write in is very loud, and she is doing the best with what she has. She is.
Okay, last one. This is more of a favor for me.
Consider the homeless.
When you see a homeless person, consider them as just that: A person. A person who is most likely struggling with a bigger problem, joblessness, addiction, mental illness, etc. This may just be a hungry person looking for some food.
Consider the homeless young man with perfectly straight teeth, and very beat-up brand name jacket. He may have come from an upper middle class family, but consider that for one reason or another he's no longer welcome to live with them. His mother may be fighting her demons, moving from town to town not telling him where they are this week.
He may be one of the 40% of homeless youth (according to study in 2012) that are part of the LGBT community. Imagine that struggle as a teenager, on top of everything else humans go through at that age. Just imagine your teenager, or your niece/nephew/cousin's kid, consider yourself at that age, trying to deal with homelessness*.
That's all I ask. Put yourself in another's life for just one moment, and consider what that must be like.
People may not always share the reason for their situation, or opinions. They may not even fully understand them. If we just start by considering another person's point of view, where they come from, why they think the way they do, we can begin to understand why their opinions are so different from ours. And just maybe, one day, give them a break.
This post was part of the #1000Speak movement.
Please feel free to write or share anything you've written about compassion and go to here to link up and join in!
I stand by my earlier promise of not expecting you to do anything, but for your further consideration:
If you think helping people won't work, consider Utah's program for the homeless. They provide shelter for everyone who needs a home. This system is working. In just 8 years, they have cut the number of homeless by 78% and predict to end homelessness.
By building someone up, giving them a chance, they have something to work for, feel like the human being that they are, and work hard to stay where they are, and keep the chance they've been given.