Friday, October 10, 2008

we need more kindness

Sea lions touching noses in the Galapagos Islands
Copyright (c) 2007 Wendee Holtcamp

I think we need more kindness in the world. I really do. I think we need to display kindness toward one another as well as toward ourselves. I generally get a lot of really nice comments to my blog and by people in email. Those people who don't like what they read - and I'm sure there are some - generally don't bother to send a hate-filled email or comment. I have seen a lot of negativity - some pretty foul, awful stuff - on online forums, where people discuss politicians or celebrities or issues. People can really get pretty nasty and mean. I guess the anonymity of the internet makes it easier for people to speak their minds and hearts. But if vile negativity is coming out of your mouth it is there in your heart as well. ("But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man."Matthew 15:18 Am KJV)

If you have something negative to say to someone you know, if you have something rude to say to me, have the courage to start an actual conversation with them/me and see if the issue can be resolved. And if not, at least I can speak for myself, then I say my prayers for the person and wish them the best, and we go our separate ways. Someone said recently to me, unforgiveness is a poison you take, hoping the other person will die. I think it's true in the large and the small things. Let love rule. This is a hard harsh world and what we need is love, forgiveness, hope and mercy not malicious anger, fear, and hate.

I think that people can disagree on a lot of things, including heated topics like politics and religion and even disagreements about personal issues between people, without needing to resort to meanness and unkindness. If the receiving person is strong, they can take constructive criticism. It's actually highly beneficial to receive constructive criticism from someone who has your best interests in mind and who cares about you. But why listen to angry rants from "anonymous" people who obviously have some issue more within their own heart and soul? I just don't get it. It makes me sad for them. Because everything that we say to another person, that person generally feels toward themselves in some way or another. If someone says oh you're so self absorbed, you can be pretty sure that they are also or it would not be pressing their button. Being introspective and self-reflective is a good thing. Being narcisstic isn't. Sometimes the difference in a trait is only a matter of degree.

I see so many rants by the politicians (particularly McCain-Palin) but I also see a lot of anger directed at Sarah Palin. I do not like what she stands for, I do not like the way she incites anger in her crowds, I do not like her inexperience, but I'm not going to incite people to hate her, or directly send her mean comments. And there's also a difference (though only in degree) between ranting on a public forum and saying something directly to someone's face or in "anonymous" email or comment. What's the point? It's not the kind of thing that the God that I follow - Jesus Christ - calls us to.

Barack Obama spoke up against the fear and hate mongering coming out of the opposite camp today. Daily Kos has a blog on it. Obama said:

We have seen our share of hard times. The American story has never been about things coming easy - it's been about rising to the moment when the moment is hard; about rejecting panicked division for purposeful unity; about seeing a mountaintop from the deepest valley. That's why we remember that some of the most famous words ever spoken by an American came from a President who took office in a time of turmoil - "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Now is not the time for fear. Now is not the time for panic. Now is the time for resolve and steady leadership. We can meet this moment. We can come together to restore confidence in the American economy. We can renew that fundamental belief - that in America, our destiny is not written for us, but by us. That's who we are, and that's the country we need to be right now.
It's easy to rile up a crowd by stoking anger and division. But that's not what we need right now in the United States. The times are too serious. The challenges are too great. The American people aren't looking for someone who can divide this country -- they're looking for someone who will lead it. We're in a serious crisis -- now, more than ever, it is time to put country ahead of politics. Now, more than ever, it is time to bring change to Washington so that it works for the people of this country that we love.

The Nation blog has an interesting story comparing the campaigns of Hoover vs Roosevelt: McCain Ayers Attacks Backfire. It talks about Hoover's fear mongering versus Roosevelt's steady calm leadership and hope amidst crisis. God that brings tears to my eyes.

Obama and McCain are giving us a clear sense of who they are and how they would lead. It would seem that Obama has been studying the 1932 campaign of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The key to Roosevelt's victory was not a big program but a jaunty sense of optimism in the midst of despair that led to his signature inaugural line -- "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Less famously, Roosevelt declared in his acceptance speech that "this is no time for fear, for reaction or for timidity."

In recent days, Obama has painted himself as calm, pragmatic, open and hopeful. He seemed to be channeling FDR when he told a crowd in Indianapolis on Wednesday: "This isn't a time for fear or for panic. This is a time for resolve and steady leadership."

As for McCain, his campaign is trying to sow fear and panic about Obama. That's exactly what Herbert Hoover tried to do with Roosevelt. Days before the 1932 election, Hoover attacked Roosevelt's "inchoate New Deal." He predicted it would "crack the timbers of the Constitution" and warned voters to beware of the "glitter of promise."

And Franklin D. Roosevelt is one of the most celebrated Presidents in history, and the one who saw us through the Great Depression as well as WWI. I absolutely loved the Roosevelt Memorial in Wahsington DC, particularly the part highlighting his I Hate War speech. Our country has seen some great leaders who have risen above great obstacles to inspire the people of our nation. It's time to elect another one. That one.

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