To speak ill of others is a dishonest way of praising ourselves. ~Will Durant
When my son was in kindergarten, he rode the bus and learned A LOT, including that Elvis Presley died on the toilet. He is now in the third grade and doesn’t ride the bus anymore, but you can’t mention the King without him shouting out “Elvis died on the toilet!” And every time this happens I remind him that Elvis was a talented singer, a movie star, a very handsome man and he served our country. But none of that seems nearly as interesting to him as kicking the bucket on the can.
I usually laugh and think to myself that this is just how children are, but I’m starting to believe that our society encourages us to find more interest in the “bad” or embarrassing things about someone than the good and noble things they’ve done. A friend of mine went to a neighborhood Christmas party and when she told this guy where she lived, he proceeded to tell her stories about each person on her street that he had dirt on. She tried to make a few positive comments about the ones she knew a little about, but they were quickly negated by the group. I’ve decided that our culture cultivates this Tiger Woods/Elvis Presley Syndrome. Regardless of how many admirable qualities a person has, we would rather advertise their weaknesses and downfalls.
I use to read the tabloid magazines and justified it by saying it was just my guilty pleasure and my bit of mindless time in my day. But quite honestly, I think I felt better about myself when I saw that Jennifer Love-Hewitt’s butt was getting bigger or that even the beautiful, rich and famous people were having problems in their marriages, too.
Going through a divorce in a small town has made me feel like I’m in one of those tabloids sometimes and everyone thinks they know an unflattering story about me. People who know not much more than my face and my name will tell me their opinion of my decision. This has opened my eyes to the fact that I have been creating opinions about people based on one thing I’ve heard, and not taking into consideration at all the things they’ve been through or the courage they’ve had to muster to keep their chin up.
So I’ve decided that no matter how hard it is, I’m going to find something good in each and every person I know and meet. And when I hear a story about them that seems less than outstanding, I’m going to come down off my throne and say something good about them and leave it alone. I don’t want to feel better about myself by putting others down. I want to feel better about the world I live in. In my quest to live this little life I’ve been looking for, I have to let everyone else have a little life, too. I want to make my little world a place where I applaud people’s strengths and appreciate their gifts and let them deal with their problems privately and respectfully.