In The Face Of Unkindness
Every day on Twitter, my dog Theo posts a tidbit of advice for a happier life. I will admit that I help him because he doesn’t type or spell well.
But Theo also helps me because he definitely provides me with a happier life every day.
Someone asked me recently how I (or Theo) come up with all those bits of wisdom. I answered that I didn’t have to come up with ALL of them… only one. One each day. I have broken down my project into just one sentence a day. One good sentence. And looking at it that way, it doesn’t seem so difficult.
Of course, some of my/our sentences are better than others. Theo has his mediocre advice days. But there’s always something. Maybe a mediocre line of encouragement may resonate with one person who is looking for just that tiny snippet of support.
Most of our inspiration comes from love. From understanding. From the trust and affection that my friends and my family (and dog) and even strangers reveal to me constantly.
But once in a while, Theo is inspired not by the goodness of our souls but by some display of unkindness.
Today, for example, he wrote (and I transcribed)
The idea for this tweet came from the comment I received on my birthday blog. (What You Can Learn)
I had tons of sweet and supportive comments on this post, in which I wrote that twenty years -perhaps how much time I have left in this world – is still plenty of time to learn and do a great amount of wonderful stuff.
But to my astonishment, I also got this:
OMG! Evil? Psychopath? Drop dead?
No one has ever said that to me. Ever. In my whole life. Even my great enemy, whose name I am not sure of but it might have been Joyce, who, when I was thirteen, called me “Stupid” – and that hurt a lot. But evil?
After my heart stopped pounding and the flames stopped coming out of my every orifice, I thought about what part I really do play in this apparently-young person’s anger.
Have I played a part in destroying children’s future? Yes, I think I have. My generation has certainly significant guilt in ignoring climate change. And it is mostly people my age who are still denying our environmental crisis because that is so much easier than trying to do something about it. We are definitely leaving our children a horrifying prospect. So if that is what she means (and I am assuming it is a woman, since most of my readers are women, not for any other reason), yes, I am guilty. I’m sorry that I have been as careless as most people with the trail of waste I have made my whole life. I promise to try not to add any further burden in my remaining years.
As for my part in destroying the economy – Sorry, no. Only rich people have had the power to do that. Us regular people have just tried to get the bills paid. I have no responsibility for whatever it is she may mean – and I am unsure what that may be. I’m not sure the economy is even that bad – although I am sure that wealth is unfairly distributed. I have used the only power I have – my wallet and my vote – to support a fairer allocation of wealth, health care, and education.
Laughing smugly? I laugh a lot. I love to laugh. I also cry a lot. But smug? No, I honestly am not smug. I truly believe I have empathy and respect. And you can’t be smug unless you have neither. (I do admit to a kind of smugness when folks use the wrong ‘its’. But that may not qualify me as evil.)
I could have deleted that comment. Some of my friends thought I should. But I thought about all the sadness and anger that must have precipitated that response. Something hurt that child badly. Even if it was not me. And that makes me sad.
So I wrote:
I wish I had been more eloquent. But it will do.
As Theo said, I hope she feels better soon.
And as far as my dropping dead – that will come soon enough.