Growing up, my mom — the Jewish daughter of a World War II veteran — had a particular catchphrase that she whipped out whenever I was whining, moping, feeling annoyed at somebody I felt had wronged me, or just being downright snarly + negative.
“You know what? It’s not the camps.”
She’d say. Meaning …
“You know what? That minor annoyance you’re complaining about isn’t really that bad.
Unlike, say, dying in a WWII concentration camp.”
“It’s not the camps” would always put a cork in my negativity + shift my perspective, real quick.
In my family, it became a four-syllable shorthand for:
“Save your outrage for something that really matters.”
And thanks to my mom, it’s a four-syllable reminder that I carry with me, to this day.
Allow me to make a somewhat less-than-graceful segue into a topic that’s been burning a hole in my heart:
Hate-blogging, hate-gossiping and bullying — online, offline + everywhere.
I recently learned about an online forum that is exclusively dedicated to criticizing + bullying people who run “successful” blogs — bloggers (mostly women) that these forum participants (also mostly women) deem:
“a closeted chunkster”
“a histrionic bitch”
“the kind of girl who’ll have a baby to increase page views”
and “the WORST.”
These forum participants mock bloggers’ clothes, hair, weight and bodies.
They mock their ideas, creative projects, philanthropic initiatives and religious beliefs.
They mock the way they write, the photos they take, their public successes + equally public failures.
Sometimes, they even make sport of their relationships, pregnancies, births and children. Oh, and divorces.
One particularly charming forum post simply ended with: “Whatever. I hate her.”
It’s difficult to believe that viciously shredding apart another human being could become a favorite “hobby” or source of daily “entertainment.”
But apparently, for some, it is.
And while online bullying is certainly not “the biggest” problem in our world today, I believe that hate — in any form — is a big deal.
Hate, made acceptable within a community, is hate that can creep + grow …
I wonder what my personal hero, Mister Rogers — a man who dedicated his life to delivering “a daily expression of care” — would say to these people.
I wonder what Tricia Norman — the mother of a teenage girl who committed suicide after being terrorized by online bullies — would say to these people.
I know exactly what my mom would say.
And I know exactly what I want to say to these forum participants, here, today:
Save your outrage for something that really matters.
Point your considerable writing talents towards a crisis worthy of your attention.
Might I recommend: Genocide. Racism. Rape. Domestic abuse. Civil rights. Sex slavery. Contaminated water.
Or one of the myriad armed conflicts that rage on, all over the world, even as I type these words.
Save your outrage — and save your energy, your power, your capacity to enact real, meaningful change, your precious time on this planet — for something worthy of your gifts.
Because the world needs your best, not your worst. Your help, not your hate. Your strength, not your snark.
That goes for me, you, them, all of us.
And that’s all I have to say, friends.
Compassion. To the very end.