Remember when we were young and our imaginations let us be anyone, say anything, go anywhere? We held an altruistic view of life. We played Hide-and-Seek. Tag. Used crayons more than pencils. We jumped on the furniture and clung to walls so we wouldn't get burned by the floor that had become lava in our minds. The only dangers were those we chose to create.
A friend was a friend. We had differences, we disagreed, we even quarreled now and then. But we were still friends. Our families were our safety nets and the place to try out new attitudes before going out in public. ("Seriously, you want to wear that to school today?!") We knew our community was a safe place. We could walk to the corner market without adults, without being afraid. And we colored the world with rose-colored glasses.
What happened? It seems the world I live in now is full of darkness. People telling me I can't make up my own mind. That I don't always know what's best for me and my family. That I just don't understand how things should be done.
I don't like to stir the waters. I don't want to offend people or ignite fires when there needn't be any. I respect opinions and others' rights to think and feel. I like to keep the very important opinions to myself and my family.
Pick a topic, and the variety of responses are as abundant as there are people: Love, Hate, Tolerate, Accept, Disagree...
What I don't get, is the two main thinking patterns that seem to be infiltrating our media today. The first is, if I disagree with you, I must be wrong. Period. The second is, in order to keep the peace, I must placate everyone. Everyone. Not just a few. Not just the majority. Everyone.
Being "politically correct" seems to mean we just don't rock the boat. But sometimes the boat needs rocking. Sometimes we're in stagnant waters and we need to fight our way upstream or get stuck. We're so busy making sure everyone on the ship is having a good time that we don't see the rocks we're heading for.
I don't mind honoring the rights of others, as long as it doesn't mean taking away my own rights in order to do so. There's a permeating sense of selfishness in the world today; a lack of personal responsibility; a lean towards entitlement. People wants what they want, when they want, how they want. And the louder the grumpy ones get, the more noticed they get.
It's the quiet peacemakers that don't make the headlines. The ones who we don't pay attention to, who are really suffering. The outspoken ones, whether right or wrong, are the ones who get the attention.
We can't trample on the rights of the few, so let's suffocate our own rights in their place. It hurts someone's feelings to be that honest, so let's tell little white lies.
We live in a "One Size Fits All" World Market. The problem with that is, I'm not a world traveler. And I'm pretty sure my clothes aren't the same as yours.
I think it does a great disservice when I see a trend in children's sports to "reward" everyone. What are we teaching our children? That there are no real losers. That it's okay if you don't try hard enough, you'll still be praised. Encouragement is fantastic. We all need it. But in order to have real winners, there has to be real losers.
We're told to learn from our mistakes, to grow, but then we're told our mistakes don't really matter. So does it matter if we learn? Or can we just keep on doing the same things over and over, not really changing? Alcoholics Anonymous calls that the definition of insanity. How's that for politically correct?!
People watch and read the news everyday, and are waiting for someone else to make things better, to come save the day. We've forgotten how to be our own Super Hero. Conflicts, falling economics, rising unemployment, hatred, racism, intolerance, attacks. Bloodshed. And some people are using any means possible to manipulate the masses. I see a lot of blame. A lot of scapegoats and excuses and finger-pointing. I don't see a lot of responsible leadership.
Fear tactics are becoming a favorite of mainstream media. Story after story about how things are going to be. Not might be. Not could be. Are. As if we have no choice.
And we're being trained like Pavlov's dogs to just roll over and take it.
No wonder neighborhoods don't know each other, trust each other. People are out to protect their own. We're kicking in those survival instincts and taking care of ourselves. And only ourselves.
Community isn't what it used to be.
But I refuse to believe I can't make a difference. And I refuse to believe my opinion doesn't count. Mostly, I refuse to believe that my corner of the world is going to hell in a handbasket because I choose to use common sense over false friendliness.
There are good and bad choices. There are better and worse things in life. There are black and white situations. And in between there is a lot of gray.
I don't have the answers, but I don't think any one person or group does. And I don't think they should. I think we all contribute to the goodness around us. Or at least, I think we can, if we try. If we remember, we're all in this together. For the good of the community. If we remember, that sometimes, not always, but sometimes, it is about them instead of us.
What goes around, comes around.
I'm gonna try to color my world a little better from now on. Don't you dare tell me to stay inside the lines!
And Frankly, My Dear... that's all she wrote!
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