Monday, November 11, 2013

A Plea for Compassion This Holiday Season

From the bean of Green Bean

I'm feeling a little down today.  Its not the upcoming holidays bringing me the blues.  Not the post-Halloween, I shouldn't have eaten so much candy depression.  Nor the shorter days and the colder weather.

I made the mistake of letting myself read comments on an Internet article.  Which article?  It doesn't matter.  Which news outlet?  That doesn't matter either.  If you have ever read any comments on any article in the last few years, you know what I'm talking about.

Comments are nearly always dominated with vitriol, hate, and sheer giddiness at the discomfort/pain/suffering of others.  I'm not the only one who has noticed.  Two months ago, Popular Science took the unprecedented step of shutting off its comments, noting that "[u]ncivil comments not only polarized readers, but they often changed a participant's interpretation of the news story itself."  (Read the article here.  It's quite fascinating and more than a little disturbing).

As I sit here, down in the dumps, I'm not sure if turning off comments is the right way to handle this.  And I wonder, do these comments represent a prevailing view or an angry and loud fringe?  Why do so few compassionate voices rise up to counter this negativity?  Are we too few?  Too busy?  Too quiet?

I have no answers but simply a plea for compassion this holiday season.

A plea to remember that the person who cut us off on the freeway may be rushing to an emergency.  That the gentleman who gestured rudely to us at the stop sign may be in the midst of a divorce.  The disorganized shopper in front of us at line may have a mental challenge that makes it hard to focus.  The overly loud diner next to us may be trying to drown out loneliness.  The squirrel who dug into our front planter is just preparing for winter.

A plea for compassion for all of this planet's inhabitants - humans and non-humans.   Please can we move past the hate, the anger, the happiness over someone else's misfortune and realize that we are all on this planet together.  We all have something in common.  We all have been "there".  We all can understand and maybe, just maybe, be a little more patient, a little more accepting and a little more compassionate as we embrace the true meaning of the holidays.


robbie @ going green mama said...


Christy said...

Thank you for this. I wholeheartedly agree. No one knows what someone else is going through and if we all just took the time to breathe and demonstrate compassion this would be a better world.

Betsy Econovice said...

I agree! And beautifully said. It's always wonderful to give someone the benefit of the doubt. I need to model this more for my kids. But I also want to say that I think there are lots of weird comments b/c weird people are more likely to comment. Nice, civil people have other more fulfilling things to do besides leave comments everywhere online. When I read some of those long-winded mean-spirited comments, I think, now there is obviously a very frustrated unhappy person with very few outlets of expression (probably none with actual human beings). I guess I mostly avoid reading comments - or stop after the first horrible one.

robbie @ going green mama said...

Check out this video - so very relevant:

Anonymous said...

I hope you feel better soon. Don't read the comments (and I realize I am in fact writing a comment.)

The people who write awful comments are not going to be affected by your plea. I wish they would, I wish all the hateful assholes would feel what they spew out so they would stop. However, they don't and they won't. I don't know the solution to make comments better, but for your own feelings, just don't read them. The haters are gonna hate and hate and hate and if they can, they are going to poison you to death with their hate.

Please be good to yourself. Share your posts because I for one very much enjoy reading them, and I think you are bring good and light and helpful knowledge into the world.

Green Bean said...

Thank you all for the *positive* comments! I love THESE kinds of comments. Much love and compassion on this eve of Thanksgiving.


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