Don’t put it in your mouth! Discard it, don’t share it.
How often have we been guilty of saying or doing things that we have regretted later? Far too often I would guess. Yet, I still see numerous personal attacks in Tweets, Facebook posts and articles every day, not to mention the constant barrage of negative (and fake) news reports. This leads me to believe we’re not learning anything from our missteps.
So why do we do it?“People seldom improve when they have no other model but themselves to copy.” – Oliver Goldsmith
Why do we feel so compelled to hurt others through our words and our actions? Let me set the record straight, it is not a result of genetic programming. It’s learned behavior and as such, we can all do better.
How do we avoid this compulsion to hurt other people by our words and actions?
Begin by committing to an unrelenting effort to become the best version of yourself. (Be honest, each one of us has a lot of work ahead to improve in this area). Next, replace those New Year resolutions that never seem go anywhere with a new series of self-improvement initiatives. Now take action!
To help overcome those frequent urges to gossip, or to share information that could be hurtful to others, make R*E*S*P*E*C*T* a part of your daily self-improvement routine.
My favorite habit from Stephen Covey’s great book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is Habit #5 – “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”. This could very well be an anthem for today’s world. Communication is the most important skill we learn in life. We spend years learning to read, write and speak, but what about listening? Most of us filter what we hear (and read) from our life experiences or frame of reference.
How do we avoid the temptation to spread lies, rumors and fake news as a result of our personal biases and lassez faire attitudes? Adopt these basic guiding principles in your fair treatment and regard for others. In the immortal words of Marcus Aurelius, 16th Emperor of the Roman Empire, “If it’s not true, don’t say it. If it’s not right, don’t do it.”
We are all reasonably intelligent people, so seek understanding first. I’m not saying you should fact check everything via Snopes.com before sharing, but do stay informed. If it sounds like crap … don’t put it in your mouth! The next time something is shared with you that doesn’t pass the ‘sniff test’, don’t infect others by sharing it – discard it. Take the high road by showing restraint and compassion.
“People who live in glass houses should invest in Venetian blinds or not throw stones.”
Next, recognize the Declaration of Independence says that “we are all created equal and endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” It did not say happiness at the expense of others. We do not raise ourselves up by trampling on others in the process. Recognize that our words and our actions have power, so be kind and let them be used for good.
As a nation, let’s work together to put an end to the bigotry, cyber-bullying, hate speech, mean-spirited behavior, social injustice and senseless violence.
As students, be a better friend. As parents, be better role models. As business leaders, focus on responsible growth and be responsive to the needs of others. As politicians, stop the incessant bickering and deliver on your promises. As members of the communities we live and work in, be a positive force for social change.
Finally, regardless of our differences, we have at least one thing in common. We are all part of the human race. With this in mind, let us endeavor to be more human, and treat each other with dignity, kindness and respect.
Enjoy the journey!
COPYRIGHT © 2014-20 John Carroll