We live in the land of opportunity. But as I reflect on this past Mother’s Day weekend, I wonder if that should be the case. Actually, this past weekend in only significant in that we celebrated the very person that gave us life. Our own opportunity. It might have been any other weekend.
For me, there is a little irony in Mother’s Day. You see, I’m a skeptic of the “Hallmark Holiday”, that occasion that arises during the year with which we need to buy flowers, candies and of course, cards. I know, I know…you’re a woman and aghast I would say such things. My wife too, actually. But let me be clear, it’s not that I don’t care for the sentimentality of the suggested holiday, it’s that I don’t care for the opportunity. The opportunity for the card companies to make a buck because today is “National Starving Writer Appreciation Day”, although I might actually support that one. Please send cash.
But I digress. We have the “holiday” because it was an opportunity for a conglomerate or cartel, if you will, to market their pink hued products like mad and make their money back ten-fold. And not just the card companies, mind you. The flower companies, the knick-knack companies, etc. Even restaurants are getting into the spirit. One of my local favorites was open on Sunday, the only Sunday of the year they are open. Why? The business that day is incredible.
And I appreciate that. The business is incredible. It is an opportunity. But what about the other days of the year? Isn’t there an opportunity there, as well? Don’t we appreciate administrative assistants and bosses and grandparents, moms and dads everyday of the year? The irony on Mother’s Day is that we spend one day celebrating the one person who spends the other 364 days celebrating us.
The truth is we appreciate our loved ones, and we don’t. We appreciate them on some level, but the problem is we don’t always show it. We don’t take that opportunity. We aren’t buying cards and gifts and taking that special someone out for a meal and telling them things like “we can do whatever you want, today is your day!” Wouldn’t it be nice if we did?
But to be honest that isn’t really what is irking me today, and boy am I irked. No, the “Hallmark Holiday” is simply a contrivance that many either fully embrace, partly embrace (like myself) or completely and utterly denounce and avoid (many of them single). It is what it is. What has me irked is that we choose to take the opportunity daily to not celebrate our loved ones and not be good to each other and not appreciate this special, fragile life.
Unfortunately I made the mistake of perusing a popular social network yesterday evening before retiring for the night, looking for great ideas for home, health and spirit. It is a routine of mine, looking for those positive things. I spend a great deal of time looking for things to make me better. Most of the time I am inspired by what I see. Last night I was appalled.
What appalled me was a chain of comments on a quote having to deal with a current controversial issue. Regardless of your race, gender, religion, political views or sexual orientation, the post was intended to be positive and inspirational for supporters of the same view. It was clear that a certain individual was intent on being a troll. Intent on being negative. Intent on creating conflict. Man or woman (does the user ID really tell us anything anymore?), this person had made an opportunity to be negative.
It’s not like there’s a holiday for negative comments. There isn’t a song or a color or type of flower associated with it. We didn’t decide as a society to set aside the second Sunday of the month to collectively troll the internet looking to squash positivity at every turn. Did we?
Sometimes I feel like I missed a memo. But I’m pretty confident on this one. Look, I understand we’re different. You were raised there, in that environment. I was raised here, in this environment. That person over there? She doesn’t even speak the same language I do. Completely different person. We’re different.
That’s gonna cause a few ripples in the pond now and then, I get that too. Sometimes you end up with a neighbor you don’t see eye to eye with. Trust me, I am speaking from experience. But I’ve learned to deal with it. I appreciate the good in my life and I even appreciate the good in my neighbor. It’s hard to see sometimes, but I take the opportunity to look for those good things. I don’t take the opportunity to look for the bad. Those things are there too, I just don’t have to call them out or make them worse.
The reality is that if I sought opportunities to see the bad in my neighbor, and sought the opportunities to talk about them and confront that person, then I would be dealing with those issues ALL THE TIME. I’m not dealing with them all the time. I deal with the negative when they arise on their own, but for the most part I’m not focusing my life on the decisions of another person I don’t agree with.
Ultimately it takes more effort to be negative than it does to be positive. Regardless of how popular, good looking, fit, financially secure or talented a person may be, we all suffer from a flaw in the armor. Some people are fated to dwell on it, some are not. But each individual has their insecurities. If they tell you they don’t they’re lying to themselves.
It is why taking the opportunity to be mean or cruel or senseless or just plain stupid and ignorant is so perplexing. If we all suffer from the same malady, shouldn’t we go out of our way to at least not bring it to light? I’m not saying we have to coddle and cater to every whim. There are a lot of ridiculous whims out there. But I don’t see the benefit in pointing out each whim as ridiculous, just to point it out. We have better things to make opportunities for. Like making opportunities to have integrity.
I think this should be the land of integrity. Opportunity is a foregone conclusion, so much so that we take it for granted. What we should be heralding ourselves as is a society intent on integrity as individuals. We should be taking those plentiful opportunities to do something rare, becoming a society that values positivity and rewards it in abundance. We don’t have to agree with one another, but we don’t have to point out our differences at every opportunity either.
So I’ve decided to create a new national holiday. And in light of the economy and such, this new national holiday will be a non-monetary holiday. No cards, no candies, no flowers. But make no mistake, this is a gift giving holiday. It will be “National Positive Impact Day”. Here is how I envision the press release from the White House:
Today we celebrate National Positive Impact Day. It is the day we make an effort to do something to benefit not ourselves, but those around us. It is the day we take the opportunity to do the right thing, regardless of if we are alone or with others. We will celebrate this momentous occasion by seeking opportunities to offer an encouraging word to others. To guide and mentor those who could use our help. A day to appreciate the differences of others. On this day, we will honor our beliefs as our own and feel blessed for the strength they provide us as individuals. And too, we will honor and respect the beliefs of others, not as our own, but as their blessing of strength as individuals. Today we understand the many paths to crossing a river, some may swim, some may walk around and still others may wait for the water to recede. Our strength is in knowing we will all reach the other side.
Maybe it’s idealistic. I’ll email this to the Prez and see what funding I can get. Hey, maybe you don’t agree. But I think it’s important to remember we all share that common malady. Wouldn’t it be nice to walk around and feel secure our common malady wasn’t going to come to light at least one day of the year? Wouldn’t it be even better if it was every day of the year?
To live in the Land of Integrity.
In reflecting on Mother’s Day, I think it’s also important to remember the sacrifice our mothers made for us. Didn’t they go out of our way to give us an encouraging word or at the very least, not bring our insecurities to light? Sure, some moms are better than others. Some are pure evil, others have wings and a halo and can do no wrong. But each made a sacrifice for us. They continue to make those sacrifices for us each day.
Maybe even that’s a stretch, but it doesn’t hurt to find an opportunity to see the good, right?