If you judge people, you have no time to love them. -Mother Teresa-
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that one of my new missions in life is to speak out when I feel our new online living steps over the line. I am not fighting with anyone. I am simply writing a blog, and pointing out that we all hurt from time to time, and if someone is hurting, we need to show kindness and compassion, and not judgment.
This morning, I read an article about Marie Osmond’s recent decision to cancel this week’s schedule of shows in Las Vegas for family time. The reason for the cancellation was listed as family time, as Marie and her family cope with the tragic loss of her son, Michael. For more information on the piece, you can read the Associated Press version by clicking here: http://www.kcsg.com/news/local/88508742.html
I have watched this mother grieve in front of the media since the announcement of her son’s passing on February 26th. My own mourning heart has ached for hers, for what lies ahead for her on her journey, and for having to do it in front of a camera.
I read about the memorial, her return to work, and now her decision to take some time. These are all deeply personal decisions in her life, but because of her chosen profession in the entertainment industry, her decisions become press releases. And, much to my dismay, the comments sections for those online articles have been filled with judgment, and opinion, and hate for how she decides how to grieve.
I have some questions. Why is it okay to judge her? Why is it okay for online news organizations to allow hate speak in the comments sections below their articles? Why is it okay for someone sitting home in front of their laptop to say mean things about a mother who just lost her child? Why is it okay to say something bad about someone you don’t even know? Who feels they have everything figured out enough that they can pass judgment on whether or not she is grieving appropriately? And if you are so sure that you are right in your assessment of her grieving style, why don’t you sign your name to your comment at the end of the article, instead of hiding behind the word,
The backlash that she faced when she returned to work was overwhelming, and it seemed that everyone had an opinion. But truly, unless we walked a mile in Marie Osmond’s heels, do we really know what provides her broken heart with comfort in this difficult time? And what person among us feels they have a right to pass their opinion on whether or not it is the right thing to do?
Now, you may ask yourself, why is this grieving mother so passionate about this? Why is she standing on her soapbox on this sunny Friday morning?
Because on July 6th, this is what I read in a comments section of an online article about Stephen:
“Geez, NC State really needs to look at the athletic requirements for their student athletes, because obviously this guy was not in very good shape if he couldn’t even swim across the cove.”
This was my son.
Did you cringe at you read it? I know I did. I am being blunt because it is time that we stood up for what is right as we live our lives online. I have friends on facebook that I haven’t talked to for twenty years, but now because of the power of the Internet, I can sit in an airport and look at their vacation pictures. I shop online, I register my son for sports online, I am grieving online. We are opening up our lives more and more, but where is the line? Where is the book of etiquette for living online?
There is no book, but we all know, deep down what’s right. All you have to do is walk a mile in someone’s shoes, and you’ll know what to do.
The person who posted that about Stephen did not think before he/she pressed send. I wonder did they know that Stephen’s mother would read it? I wonder if they realize I sat and cried quietly in front of my computer screen, crushed that the memory of my child was being tarnished by strangers who did not know he was my sun, my moon, my stars? I wonder would it have made a difference?
I reported each comment about my child, and continue to do so daily when I find someone else is being judged just so the anonymous can see their words on the screen. I may be fighting a losing battle, but I will continue. Because I’ve walked a mile, I’ve walked ten. And this world needs a little more tenderness, a little more love.
Today, I am thankful for Marie Osmond, and I send her love and peace as she continues to grieve in front of the world. May she find the solace and quiet to let her heart heal.
On this Friday, I ask you this? Will you join me? Let’s all start holding the anonymous posters accountable for their words and report their posting to the web administrators so it can be removed. If enough of us do it, maybe we can make a difference.
Maybe we will be able to save another grieving mother from any additional pain.
Wishing all of us compassion filled days,