If you visit here with any regularity, you know that I don't often use this space to report or comment on what's happening in the blogging community. It's not that I'm not out there reading, it's just that that's not what I want for this space. This is, above all, my journal, begun and maintained more than any other reason as something to leave for my daughter years from now--an organic record of how things were at any given time in her life, as well as a history of other times. I view it more or less as a photo album, but with words. It's for us more than anyone else, even though it's publicly shared. That's why sometimes you might come here and get bored out of your skull by dog pictures and dumb regurgitated inside jokes.
That being said, there have been some things going on lately in and around the blogging community that really leave a bad taste in my mouth, and the way I feel about this makes me consider the way I'd like my daughter to learn to approach similar situations in her own life, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to pass along some of the lessons that my own mother taught me.
Don't be a hater. There is just no quarter in it. Not for you, not for your target, not for any observers. When you spew negativity, you're not just running someone else down--you're poisoning yourself--hardening your own heart. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. And energy spent on vitriol, jealousy, resentment, criticism, and mockery is energy you're then unable to invest in kindness, compassion, understanding, charity, helpfulness, and love. It only pays dividends in bitterness. Time you spend spreading discontent is time you can never get back. It's time you'll never have again to spend with your family, play with your pets, lose yourself in a good book.
I want you to know that, in this wide, wide world, there is enough. There is enough success, enough goodness; there are enough blessings to go around. You don't need to take from someone else in order to have something for yourself, and you don't need to diminish anyone else to increase your own stature. In point of fact, those strategies rarely work, at least not in the long run. Conversely, someone else's success does not take anything away from you. Be happy for the good fortune of others. If someone accomplishes something that you haven't yet, something that you want for yourself, don't think, "That should be mine, and I'm angry that it isn't." Instead, think, "How did they do it? How can I learn from what they did? What can I do better, to get where I want to be?" Jealousy is pointless. Not only is there enough goodness to go around, but the stunning fact that most people miss is this: You can make more.
With every choice you make, you're deciding what to add to the world. Ask yourself what you'd rather it be--a snide remark, or a word of encouragement? A slap to the face, or a comforting embrace? The choice is yours. A frustrating fact of life is that you cannot control other people. People in your life will do things that hurt you, upset you, sadden you, and even betray you. You hold no sway over them, so don't waste your effort. You control one thing in this life: Yourself. So while you can't control the actions of others, you are the master of your own actions and reactions. Be quick to think and slow to act, and choose accordingly. The smallest things, good and bad, can have the most lasting impact, a lesson many of us learn far too late in life, and some of us not at all.
Play nicely. Speak kindly. Share. Love others as you would be loved yourself. You won't, nor should you, always agree with others, but please always respect them. Consider the humanity beneath any rough display of ugly or offensive behavior--no matter what, everyone was someone's baby, someone's child once, as you are mine now. And as much as I would make it so that no one in this world ever hurts you, I would also like to send you out into this world living your own personal version of the Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm. But you know what? I think you can do better. I think that you, or anyone who wants to, can really do better than just holding your tongue, simply not inflicting active damage. I know that you can, as much as you decide to, offer goodness when it would be easier to dole out punishment. "Kill 'em with kindness," as my mother advised me at least a million times.
Do it often enough, and you'll find that kindness becomes the most readily-accessible arrow in your quiver. You'll also find that you're a darn good shot.
In short? Be good.