Sunday, April 04, 2010
Dear Spark Friends:
I am veering off my usual health and weight loss topics to bring a concern I have to my table of friends --
I am co-leader of my hometown's team and as such try to read as many blogs as I can from fellow team members to stay in touch. The other day I read an entry from a teacher who wrote about a particular student of hers who had a difficult parent and the gist of her blog was about her resentment over students who are on free and reduced lunches and other entitlement programs.
I am quite certain that this woman was probably venting out of frustration and I left a comment expressing a little of my own opinion. After thinking about it later, though, I regretted leaving it.
I want to make it clear that I didn't regret my opinion one bit, but that I let myself get emotionally sucked into a subject that has nothing to do with motivating and inspiring health and fitness.
So I went back and read over comments that other sparkers had left on her blog and was shocked at the vehemence of some peoples opinions. One particular woman's comment in support of the teacher's feelings seemed especially harsh so I clicked on her page and read the only two blogs she had written at the time.
I was so saddened and disappointed at the judgemental, political extremeness, and almost hateful nature of her blogs!
It isn't the fact that my political leanings differ from hers. I am not an extremist by any means to the right or the left, and I certainly respect the concept of freedom of expression.
However, one of my favorite quotes is:
"Freedom of expression is NOT yelling FIRE! in a crowded theater"
(I am sorry that the author of that quote escapes me for the moment.)
She is entitled to say what she feels like on her own page.
What REALLY bothers me is that when we express ourselves in a judgemental, hateful, vehement manner about any segments of population, we risk alienating people. Now I entirely get the drift that she could care less whether the folks she has chosen to spew her venomous diatribe at feel alienated or not.
I firmly believe that this isn't what Spark People is all about. I am very concerned that a newcomer to SP will stumble across her politically driven blog in seek of weight loss motivation and be completely turned off by the whole website.
For all intents and purposes, Spark People is about motivating, inspiring, encouraging others in the WEIGHT LOSS AND FITNESS EFFORTS.
I have no problem with people blogging about personal issues that are emotionally challenging to them. Our blogs shouldn't be restricted to JUST weight loss and health issues, especially when they ultimately impact our state of health mentally or physically, but I definitely feel they should be presented in a non-judgemental, non-hate mongering manner if they bring in other peoples.
Maybe it's because I am NOT a judgemental person by nature. I read my Bible faithfully, and you know what? I haven't found my name mentioned in it anywhere as an appointed judge. In fact, our good Lord is pretty specific that HE alone has that privilege.
I chose a profession where I get to help all walks of life -- every race, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, and gender. The workings of our bodies really is the great equalizer. We have more in common with everybody else than not when it comes down to it.
I like to think of myself as a kind and gentle and tolerant soul in my "old age". Lol!
While I am by no means wishy-washy or timid in my political leanings, I simply don't feel like Spark People is the venue to express them. There ARE websites out there where you can share all your opinions with like minded folk. Some are monitored by the FBI, I'm sure :)
So when I read her blogs, did I click the little icon to report an inappropriate blog? No. She wasn't profane, sexual, racist, anti-semantic. or anything like that. She was political. She was judgemental and disparaging about a segment of society that through the grace of God I am not in.
So I am coming to MY friends here on SP and asking that you please not encourage these kinds of public blogs by commenting either in agreement or disagreement. By simply commenting, we are acknowledging them and giving them fuel to either continue with them out of our encouragement, or continue them out of vengeance over our dissenting opinion.
Let politics be politics on MSNBC or FOX News. Or on any of the myriad of websites out there dedicated to such.
Let Spark People be Spark People...