There is an old country song by Waylon Jennings called “Stop the World” and includes the lyrics “Stop the world and let me off; I’m tired of going round and round.”
I feel like I have been going round and round for months with the message of being kind. Yet, all I have to do is turn on the tv or my social media to see so many examples of flat-out meanness.
We continue to hear about bullying in our world and the multitude of reactions to this behavior. Bullying will not stop in our schools and among youth until we as adults stop and set a positive example of dealing with adversity. Social Media is rampant with hateful, divisive posts and worse comments.
Not everyone is going to like you. Not everyone is going to agree with you. Not everyone is going to be respectful of or to you. None of this is a news flash and it can sure hurt when it happens! However, it can also be a learning experience – did I do or say something that may have injured someone else? Did I take on a position with the intention of digging in my heels and being contrary? Was I willing to listen to another’s point of view even – especially - if I don’t agree with it?
I have a good group of friends who have very specific views on their industry. While I don’t disagree with many of their points, their method of sharing their views can be very dismissive and condescending to others. They have lost their audience before they ever shared their message. They don’t need to change their beliefs but may need to adjust the tone of their message to reach the influential people that can make a difference.
I can certainly be judgmental; I know that I am stubborn; I can be snarky and sarcastic. Recognizing those things about myself is the first step to adjusting my reaction to adversarial situations. I am not always successful but my goal is to stop and think before I respond or hit send/post. More than once, I have typed a response only to backspace all the way through it because I recognize how it may be perceived by others. I appreciate having colleagues that I can call to talk through a situation and step away from the immediate response of anger or frustration.
Youth are watching and learning from us all the time, whether we realize it or not. How have you handled a bully? Have you been the bully in a situation? How can each of us set a better example of working with those who are different from us? I hope that you will take time to stop before you react with your child to set a positive example in a tough situation. Take a minute to observe and talk through both negative and positive reactions to situations.
Our 4-H motto is to Make The Best Better and I continue to work on a better version of me. I don’t really want the world to stop - but I look forward to kindness being something that goes round and round and it starts with each one of us!
Keep learning. Keep showing grace and kindness!
Michelle Beran is the 4-H and Youth Development Agent for the Cottonwood District, Barton County office. For more information on this article or other 4-H Youth and Development related questions email Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 620-793-1910.