Swallowed by Ugly

Sometimes I think the world is being swallowed by ugliness. Bickering in Congress, so vitriolic they can’t seem to get anything done. Bullying so despicable it drives a person to take his own life. Nasty comments on the Internet. Constant griping about whatever is wrong in our daily lives.

You know it’s gotten pretty bad when pictures like this appear on Facebook.

Usually, I tune most of it out. But lately, I feel like I’m being swallowed by it, too. The constant griping, complaining and arguing. A lack of respect for others.

It happens all around us, so much so that it’s begun to feel almost normal to me. Then, last week, I saw a story about a 14-year old boy named Jamey Rodemeyer. It was another incident of a teen who had been bullied so relentlessly, he committed suicide. Sadly, these kinds of stories have been in the news so much, even they have become almost “normal.” What??

But Jamey’s story especially, struck a nerve. This young man struggled to help others who might be going through the same thing. Even through his own pain, he tried to get the message out that “it gets better,” until it became too much for him, and he took his own life.

Jamey’s story broke my heart. It made me think that we have not progressed beyond a pack mentality.  We sense weakness, whatever makes a person different–whether it’s race, religion, sexual orientation, political philosophy–and we attack like wolves, hungry to destroy whatever “stands out” and makes us uncomfortable. Whether we know it’s wrong or not, sometimes it feels more comfortable to “run with the pack,” rather than to stand up against it or fight it.

I didn’t intend this post to be only about bullying, though that is serious enough. But bullying is just a byproduct of the pervasive ugliness.

Is it worse than it used to be, or in our world of the internet and 24-hour media, do we just hear about it more? Perhaps our high-tech world enables it to spread more quickly, a contagion of ugliness. Are we all so miserable that we need to draw others into our pack?

Whether it’s worse or not, how do we stop it?

Accentuate the positive.

I still remember waking one morning as a teenager, with this strange concept flashing in my brain like a neon sign. I thought I’d made it up and was pretty darn proud of thinking of such a profound and simple statement. Of course, later I learned it wasn’t my creation, but the title of a song written by Johnny Mercer in 1944. I must have heard it somewhere, sometime, and placed it in a jam-packed, disorganized drawer in my mind, labeled, “Neat Things to Remember When Needed.”

For some reason–maybe it was my parents’ divorce, or the loss of my first love–I pulled the phrase out of storage that morning long ago, and it has been with me ever since.

Still, even as I recite the quote, I hear a collective, “Ick,” or “Oh, brother.” But I don’t care. It’s what is needed today. Rather than focusing on all that we DISAGREE on, why not focus on what we AGREE on?

When we are uncomfortable with someone we perceive to be DIFFERENT, why not focus on what is the SAME?

When we are having such a BAD day that we have to make others’ days miserable too, why not focus on what’s GOOD about the day? And if you can’t find something good, take a deep breath and be grateful for that breath.

There’s something good–positive–in everything and everyone. Find it. Maybe then, instead of ugliness eating away at each of us, we can eat away at ugliness instead.

This entry was posted in facebook, hate, internet, Jamey Rodemeyer, positive thoughts, ugliness. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Swallowed by Ugly

  1. ed_quixote says:

    I think you may be right about hate being technology-enhanced. We didn't have "flame wars" before there was email. But I suspect humans have affective asymmetry(tm), that is, they are more likely to respond if annoyed than if pleased.


  2. Jan Morrill says:

    I wonder why that is, ed_quixote, that we respond more if annoyed than pleased? I suppose it's because annoyance is a more "fiery" emotion than the more passive pleasure or satisfaction.


  3. Russell says:

    It takes virtually no effort, and definitely no brain power, to be anti-everything. Being positive requires one to be consciously aware of opportunities to offer encouragement and support. You may not change the world, but you can change one person's world.


  4. Jan Morrill says:

    @Russell, so true. It's easy sometimes to succumb to the "there's nothing I can do about it" mentality. But, even bettering the world of one person is a start.


  5. mgmillerbooks says:

    I think all the ugliness has always been there, we're just being made more aware of it now by the constant media, and that, in turn, is helping fan the flames. I heartily agree with Russell that it takes no effort whatsoever to be anti-everything too. You've given us some food for thought here, and I especially like your view of focusing on what's the same about us rather than our differences.


  6. Jan Morrill says:

    @mgmillerbooks, sometimes it's more comfortable to focus on what's the same about us, particularly in times of conflict. But there are also times I am fascinated by our differences. What is different can be a positive thing, too.


  7. Anonymous says:

    In case Blogger won't let me post this as me, this is Doug M. on the Big Island saying that sometime people make me pro-nuclear and that you are adding to the good in the world just by taking the time to write what you did.Good for you (and me!)Thanks.Doug


  8. Jan Morrill says:

    Thanks, Doug. You mean you get pro-nuclear living on the Big Island?? Glad I could help, even in some small way. 🙂


  9. Jack LaBloom says:

    I agree we should all focus on what we have in common with our fellow man/woman. If we did that, the things that appear to separate us might fade away with time.I've traveled to over twenty foreign countries and the things we all have in common far exceed any differences among us.I hold out hope that a new tend will emerge. Acts of love and kindness will overshadow hate speech and meanness.


  10. Jan Morrill says:

    @Jack LaBloom, I hope you're right about a new trend. If more people could travel, I think they too, would see that we're more alike than not. Thanks for your comment!


  11. Ruth says:

    Amen, Gypsy Jan!


  12. Unfortuanately, "Ugly" get's viewers, votes, and sells. "Ugly" makes money. And for some reason, we get sucked into the ugly, because if makes us focus on how different we are. Then, instead of celebrating our differences, we are prodded into taking offense. Change has to begin with those of us who find the "Ugly" offensive. We must celebrate the freedom to disagree instead of mentally disemboweling those who think differently that we do. And really, since I've been voting age (which hasn't been that long – 0pps, watch out for lightning) it hasn't really mattered who is in office. It is the same old thing after the same old thing. The same old arguments, the same old promises. And if someone isn't living the lifestyle we think they should, who are we to be their judge, jury, and sentencer (is that a word?) I love the freedom that Jesus gave me. He said all I have to do is love, leave the rest up to God. Love doesn't mean I have to get all emotional either. The word He used for love means to honor, respect, and cherish. Since He cherishes others, so then should IAnd that's the way I see it. 😉


  13. Jan Morrill says:

    @Ruth – thanks. I knew we'd see eye-to-eye. 🙂


  14. Jan Morrill says:

    @Linda C. Apple, you said it better than I. Love=Honor, Respect, Cherish. If only we'd all remember that. Thanks for your insight.


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