Remember, there’s the good stuff, and the stuff that leaves an awful taste
By Linda S. Wallace
Free speech is a little like free coffee. What you get doesn’t always go down well. It can make you sick or make the day richer, and smoother. Basically, it depends upon where it comes from and how talented the brewer happens to be.
What the world truly needs this holiday season are more thoughtful, loving people able to brew a cup of kindness that goes down well.
So let’s work together to give each other a special holiday gift – not by censoring free speech or banning demeaning talk – but rather by raising the bars of excellence and conduct in our communities.
Resolve to use well-considered words and inspirational speech long, loud and often. Remember that Grinches come in all races, creeds and colors. Hold the folks that look like you and the folks you really like to high standards. When we don’t, they lose valuable opportunities for growth.
Here’s my recipe for making the holiday stuff people clamor for:
Keep the gift of patience around. Americans will celebrate a variety of holidays: Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah, for instance. Expect people to say things you wish they had not said. Remember, it is often our response to them that determines how quickly they move toward a land of inclusion. Let’s be tolerate and forgiving. You don’t learn how to make a great cup of coffee by having people yell at you. You need someone better to show you how.
Treat others as they wish to be treated, not as we would have them treat us. We may feel an occasional urge to kiss a stranger beneath the mistletoe but I wouldn’t do that without asking permission first. . A civil society asks that its citizens honor all neighbors. Each person deserves to be treated and greeted in a manner that makes them feel welcome and at ease. After all, the best way to promote one’s faith is to show how much it does to strengthen those who come in contact with it. If you are using faith to belittle others, your message is leaving an awful taste.
Foster a culture of learning: Read a book with family, friends or neighbors. Watch a show that leads to mutual understanding and cultural and religious breakthroughs. Spend time discussing ways your family and your community can resolve conflicts, avoid violence, and prepare to go globally. Consider celebrating the spirit of the holidays by attending a religious service of another faith community. If possible, go with a friend. Going to a new church is the cheapest, safest cultural fellowship available to us.
Challenge your own biases and beliefs. Take time to gather research and facts that do not support your current political, cultural or religious beliefs. Read the material several times during a 30-day period. Then, explain the research and the new evidence to a good friend in a convincing manner. When you speak, take the temperature of your own conversations. Once you show that you make a really outstanding cup of coffee, others will seek you out.
Finally, when friends and families visit, bring out the good stuff (free speech and great coffee), that is. Once more Americans acquire a taste for the finer things, there is no going back.