I am constantly amazed, and consistently delighted, at the many many ways to find happiness in this world: making the basketball team, joining the choir, stitching a quilt, starting a charity, earning an award or an honest dollar…running, inventing, gardening, swimming, hiking, writing or simply just noticing everything and anything good, beautiful, funny.
And yet, in this age of opportunities, where each of us can truly find joy, runs a current of criticism, jealousy, nit-picking and quibbling. The cynics seem to see the world as a pie and any success by someone else, means less for them to eat. But the world isn’t a single pastry, it’s a banquet– lush and full and overflowing, constantly replenished and with new dishes appearing every day. Life offers more than enough love, triumphs and beauty for each of us, no one needs to envy or critique another’s plate.
Each life also holds misery, heartache and disasters– which is all the more reason to tread gently and kindly on this earth.
Words, once published, are like Frankenstein brought to life– they take on actions of their own, free to misinterpretation and abuse.
Recently, the Deseret News introduced new commenting guidelines in an effort to encourage civil dialogue. I found this question and answer especially interesting:
Haven’t you ever heard of freedom of speech? That’s censorship!
Commenting on DeseretNews.com is a privilege, not a right. If you continually abuse that privilege, you may have your account suspended or banned. But we want your comments and added insight, so keep it civil and we can continue a long and meaningful online relationship.
I applaud the efforts of the Deseret News. Intelligent discussion defines a vibrant and educated society, but the ferocity of condemnation, the excoriation of ‘errant’ writers astounds me. It seems no one can write an opinion of any sort without subjecting themselves to name-calling and mockery.
In the first weeks of this year, I read a beautiful article– God will give you more than you can handle: I guarantee it.– but was saddened to see several comments (I didn’t go past the first twenty or so) both questioning and mocking her faith. Wouldn’t their opinions be better served by writing posts or articles of their own? Why tear apart her expressions of faith and understanding?
A friend compared this attitude to Korihor in the Book of Mormon as he mocked the followers of Christ. The high priest asked, “Why do you teach this people that there shall be no Christ to interrupt their rejoicings?” Alma 30:22. In this world of hardship, why would we want to interrupt any rejoicing?
Over and over, I’ve seen this behavior within discussions about… well, every topic imaginable. Just as we know Facebook taunts never change anyone’s opinion, does any attacker believe their cruel words (on either side of the discussion) will lead to understanding?
Perhaps some might say, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the fire.” To some degree, this is true. But if every sensitive writer/singer/artist stopped contributing, we’d lose so many important voices. Each of us, in whatever we choose to pursue, must block out the voices of opposition. My sister loves to remind me, “The angels tell you to be glorious, but the devils tell you, ‘don’t even try.'”
Yes, we need to ignore the belittlers if we want to go forward. But I’d also suggest we’d all benefit– especially those who spend their time critiquing and reviling– by simply pursuing happiness, spreading kindness, looking for ways to help and create and enjoy this beautiful, beautiful life.