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T.H.I.N.K.ing of a Kinder World

Thursday, July 18, 2013

I’ve been thinking the last few days about one’s ability to express themselves and where they draw the line between their right to say something and whether it does any good to say it. Obviously by law in both the U.S. and Canada we have a right to free speech. We can pretty much say what we want and then claim right to free speech. Whether it offends, harms or hurts anyone doesn’t matter.

Recently I noticed some kerfuffle (good word hey?) on someone’s blog about the fact that their previous blog had been deleted by the SP moderators and they were upset and angry and felt it was their right to write whatever they wanted and if people didn’t like it or it offended them then they should just not read their blog. Now, I never read the offending blog but from description it sounds like it was some sort of off-colour joke that demeaned a group of some sort and it offended some people and then those people complained and thus SP removed the blog. The argument though that it was their blog and they can write what they want only goes so far. Yes, it’s their blog, they are the author. However, it is hosted by a company that clearly has ‘final rights’ on what is said (ever tried to SPmail or blog a message with a swear word in it? haha) and that clearly wants to encourage comradery, support and friendship between its members rather than alienation. If this blogger had posted the offending joke on their blog that they were paying to host or even on one of the free blogging sites that claimed no control on content, then sure, they have a right to write whatever they want. But the fact of that matter is, they didn’t. They posted it on SP and thus were acquiescing to the rules established by SP.

The bigger question though is why was it okay to blog about it at all in the first place? Ok sure, people are overly sensitive in this day and age, I’ll give you that. But on the other hand, this world is overly cruel too and it seems for no apparent reason than to push some people down to make others feel better or more superior. And maybe they don’t even consciously notice this or believe it but in the end, that’s the result.

My intention here is not to continue the right to free speech argument so I want to concentrate my thoughts on a more personal level. What I’ve been contemplating are the differences and similarities between the things that I think, the things that I CAN say, and the things that I DO say.

One of the side effects of depression is that the negative self-talk in my head often manifests itself in my ‘outside voice’. The things coming out of my mouth may not ‘sound’ mean to me when I’m saying them because everything going through my head is mean, it’s dark, it’s defeating and it’s all about bringing people down to my level so they’re just as miserable as me (and this is most entirely an unconscious habit and behaviour). But sometimes, just sometimes, I actually hear myself (or someone else does and calls me on it). I hear the words coming out of my mouth, which are a product of my mind, and I realize that they are harsh, vitreous and downright cruel sometimes. I meant them as a joke, I meant them to be funny, I thought it was funny so other people should too – but I didn’t take the second to think about the audience and how I might be perceived before I said it. And why did I do it? What has it accomplished? A quick laugh by some people but hurt feelings by others? Is that a win – that half the people thought it was funny at the expense of the feelings of the other half?

In my recovery (and I do think of this as my recovery – recovery from depression, from emotional eating, from this prison that is my oppressive body and mind), I have been actively trying to incorporate something I saw somewhere, (and I’m sure you’ve seen it around too), that really struck me: the THINK policy. I have been working hard to think before I speak or write, anticipating its reception and determining if that is what I want the result to be.

I examine the five questions:

T - is it TRUE?
H - is it HELFPUL?
I - is it INSPIRING?
N - is it NECESSARY?
K - is it KIND?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not perfect at this. In fact, I screw up more often than I ‘check myself before I wreck myself’. But slowly and surely, I am improving. And this slow improvement also helps the thought processes scrolling through my mind to be more kind to myself and those around me. It’s not about free speech. It’s about respect of my fellow human beings, about caring about them, about nurturing a world in which kindness is the go-to action and not tearing people down. Unless the subject matter is yourself, in which case you are your own expert and can say what you like about yourself (but even then, if it’s negative, you’re better off not saying it), then I think people need to use the THINK policy more often.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Excellent blog. We forget that with social media, cell phones, etc. our words can spread to more than just one of few who they were originally intended.
    1673 days ago
    Such a good thing to do...I'm writing down THINK right now at my desk to help remind myself to do this!
    1674 days ago
    More people should use the THINK policy in their everyday life. I agre ewith you completely
    1675 days ago
    good blog.
    1675 days ago
    I have been working on this really hard this year myself and have had a few major slip-ups. I try to remind myself not to become too passionate and make myself go and sit down. If I need to talk about it, talk about it tomorrow because then I have had a chance to cool down. I mean they give three year olds time outs when they blow up so I know I need time outs even now.
    1678 days ago
  • AMY4593
    This is fantastic! I am so guilty of saying offensive things for a cheap laugh, and then silently berating myself immediately after the words leave my mouth. I am going to give THINK a try!!!
    1679 days ago
    Very good blog post. I was brought up with the adage "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all". So most of the time I just keep my mouth shut! Of course when pushed too far, I will un-sheath my rapier wit and blast my opponent with verbal jabs so fast and accurate that they don't know what hit them. I try to make sure that this doesn't happen very often.
    1679 days ago
  • TREV1964
    Well done Minea, good blog.

    I have always believed what goes around comes around - if you put enough nice stuff out there you eventually get it back and sometimes what you get back far outweighs the amount you put in there.

    Even if you are ever controversial there is still an aura of niceness or nastiness in whatever you have to say or the way that element is carried out by the way you say it. There are people out there that will read all kinds of stuff into what any of us put down but history tells me that if I shoot it from the heart and am genuine everything becomes fine.

    I like the think motif - that's a good one.


    1679 days ago
    What a fantastic blog! You are such a superb writer and thinker. You always seem to come up with "le mot juste" and such perceptive insightful thoughts. Thank you!
    1679 days ago
  • _BABE_
    I like your blog. I used to think my sarcasm was witty. Those poor, kind considerate slobs just didn't have IT. What was IT...poor self esteem, bad body image, hurt pride...yeah that's it....they were well- adjusted, loving people who were raised to respect themselves and other people.

    Along with processed foods I am giving up pessimism and snappy comebacks for open, honest and loving communication. Now when I am told that I have a positive attitude I beam with pride.
    1679 days ago
    Great blog, Minea!! There is too little kindness in this world and when we are able to bring kindness to those around us we are making the world a better place! For those of us who battle weight issues we should be especially cognisant of this truth - how often have we have been judged and found lacking by the fashion world?

    I love your THINK chart and think we should all adopt it!!

    p.s. YES kerfuffle is a great word!! I had to look up the definition but agree its the perfect word!!
    1679 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/18/2013 3:34:47 PM
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