For years I've wondered how the world seems to progressively get worse instead of better. We have all of history to learn from. We have the ultimate technologies. We have a seemingly endless supply of knowledge. For crying in the night, why is it, then, that we seem to move backward, instead of forward?
Don't get me wrong; I don't consider myself a pessimist, though I can be less than optimistic at times. Of course, I see the progress in politics; that of a Black man running for president of the "most powerful nation in the world." It's a sure sign of betterment that a we have the first woman on a republican presidential ticket. (Geraldine Ferraro was the first woman on a democratic ticket). So, there is hope. We show signs of wanting a better world. But even after we show these great signs of good times ahead, we begin to fail miserably. What's going to happen if Barack wins? Will Washington embrace him? Will there be excitement over such progress? Or, will the republicans whine, finger-point, and make sure nothing good gets done? What if Palin and McCain are elected? Will Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid give her their support, at least where they can agree? Or will the democrats whine and hiss and continue the politics of stubbornness and greed?
I watched most of the Republican National Convention this evening. People like Fred Thompson, President Bush, and even Joe Leiberman did well in making the case for McCain, based on his outstanding character as an American hero and patriot. I began to remember my respect for McCain as U.S. senator. But, neatly laced into all of their love speech for McCain was hate speech for the other party and Barack Obama. And the republican crowd would go wild with enthusiasm at these jabs. Why? What's exciting about hating someone? Why do we justify hate, based on difference? (While I'm a registered independent voter, I often fall left of center. Forgive my bias). Also, I am fully aware that both sides are guilty to some degree. But mostly the republicans. Just kidding. But really, mostly them.
In my own life, I've experienced hate and its effects. I'm 32 1/2, I've been married twice and I've dated my share of girls. (No, I'm not bragging--I'm getting to the point). Looking back at the girls I've dated since I was 21, (after my 2 year mission for the Mormon Church) I cannot think of a single one of them who didn't have some sort of baggage or issue because of some asshole guy doing something or plain, just treating them badly. I can think of a handful of them who were led on. (I'm guilty of this one--not proud of it either). I can think of many of them who experienced abuse of one form or another. And, I can tell you that the statistics of 1 in 4 girls being sexually assaulted is probably a very conservative statistic. What the hell? What makes me furious is that most of the guys never even hear from the cops because the girls don't tell. But, that's another entry for another day.
How about the blissful state of marriage? Wonderful right? (Well, at least the second time around for me). But I can also think of numerous couples who have been together for decades and, while you have to credit their endurance, I have to question why they're together. Any of you know older couples who stick together but seem to hate each other's guts? When did they stop trying? When did they decide to stop saying, "I love you?" When did they decide they were done holding hands? When did a few of them decide flirting wasn't cheating? When did some of them decide that cheating would be OK if they didn't get caught? (John Edwards tsk, tsk, tsk)
Do you ever notice, as you go about your day, how many passers by don't return your glance? Do you ever notice a lot of people shop for groceries with their heads down? Ever notice a cashier that doesn't make eye contact with you, let alone throw you a, "Have a nice day?" Isn't that sad?
A few years ago I began thinking of starting a "being friendly movement." It'd be really easy, and it probably wouldn't take that much time to make its way throughout my community, and then throughout the state, then the country, eventually the world. Perhaps those of you who read this blog will help me get it started. (Come on; You'll be popular!) OK, it's real simple. All you have to do is smile at the people you pass, whether you know them or not. Also, whenever there's time in your passing, (5 to 7 seconds) shoot someone a, "Hey, how are you?" (Or whatever form of salutation you prefer). Mean it though. Actually wait for their response. It'll become natural sooner than you think. For some this may feel awkward at first. And I guarantee, having tried it, that some of those you greet and smile at will feel awkward. That's only because they're used to a colder world. But I say, "Warm it up Kris!" OK, that's what the teen duet Kris Kross said like 20 years ago. Sue me. Seriously though, I really believe happiness, warmth and compassion is what the world is missing. It's at the root of the world's problems. If people would care more about each other, have a little more empathy, take a little more interest in other people's ups and downs, wouldn't we have a better world? Would we have invaded Iraq? I mean, what if we tried to understand, first of all, that differences are OK, and, secondly, that respectfully talking things out can also be fruitful? (Who knows if it would've worked? I'm glad not to be in charge of those decisions).
As you can see, I am a horrible writer. I admit that I don't organize my thoughts well. My point is, I know we could treat each other better. I actually have the nerve to think that "The Golden Rule" absolutely works. I actually, truly believe that our world would not be in its current state of disarray and distrust if we were just plain nicer to each other. We're screwing with each other's hearts and minds. We shouldn't do that. Stop being mean. Stop focusing on differences or weaknesses. Instead, embrace strengths and commonalities. Smile. But don't just smile; Mean it.