After all these years online, it still never fails to shock me that people can use such cruel, mocking, and biting words when hidden behind the anonymity of a computer screen.
Things that would never be said to another's face are gleefully shared through email, on Facebook, in forums, and on blogs, sometimes masked behind motives of being "direct" and "for your own good" while other times unabashedly mean-spirited. The venomous words seem to flow even more freely when the writer knows he or she won't have to be held accountable for them by anyone they know. As much as I seek to avoid it, it seems that I stumble across this sort of thoughtlessness and cruelty every day. Some days I want to leave the online world altogether; I do not want to become hardened to such unkindness.
Why do we tear one another down this way? My heart sinks at the spiteful words I read, at the assumptions and accusations, at the judgment and derision. I wonder at the way a person can take the actions and beliefs of another, exaggerate them to the extreme, and then mock them mercilessly. I am saddened by the lack of love, the determination to tear down, and the pride.
Woman against woman. Mother against mother. Person against person. Who needs persecution or oppression when we will so freely tear down our own?
I know I cannot change the heart of another. I can only examine my own heart, my own words. What pride do I harbor? What assumptions and judgments do I make? Do I use my own words to build up and encourage, or to tear down and belittle?
Every moment presents a choice, and those choices shape us. There is only this moment, and in it I must choose. What will I think? say? do? How will I have spent it when it passes by? What can I do in this moment to be the person I desire to be?
Not only before I speak, but before I write, I must be sure my words are true, useful, encouraging, kind, and gentle. Even if I think no one I know will read them, I am responsible and accountable for my words.
May I take this opportunity to say thank you, my dear readers, for your own kind and uplifting words? I am grateful that this space has always been free of mocking and unkindness. Even where you have disagreed with me, you have said so respectfully, and you have allowed me the courtesy of dialogue to better understand where the other is coming from. You have given me encouragement, perspective, accountability, and cause to continue writing.
I am glad you are here.