photos by Banavenue
skirt | similar shoes | similar blazer | earrings | similar bag | shirt
The older I get, the more acutely aware I become of just how much judgment takes place in this world. I am certainly not exempt from such behavior, unfortunately; all too often I catch myself critiquing others when I have no place to do so. It's human nature to observe and form opinions, but sadly we live in a world where said opinions turn into social media hate and slander. The Facebook fights, the Twitter wars, the Instagram bullying- it's pathetic and has to stop. Too many friendships are ruined over these battles, too many tears are shed because of the hate, and, most tragically, too many teenagers are taking their lives due to cyberbullying. When I heard the news last month that 18-year old Brandy Vela had taken her own life after months and months of being tortured online by her peers, my heart felt completely broken. Such an intelligent, beautiful, talented young woman, harassed and abused for absolutely no good reason. The pain she must have endured, and the overwhelming grief her family is enduring now, is beyond my comprehension. But my heart breaks.
Is there a solution to the madness? An end in sight for this unnecessary, awful behavior? I wish so much it were that simple, but sadly the practice just seems to increase. The more transparent peoples' lives become online, the easier it is for someone to hide behind the anonymity of a username and spread viciousness via the internet. I'm no expert and though I wish I had an answer, I know what we can do. Online bullying is a monster in and of itself, but judgement lies within all of us. We have to do better, to be better. Online and offline, we've got to spread more love, not hate. Give compliments, not put-downs. Help one another, not walk away in someone's time of need.
We can stop judging the woman who's on welfare and wearing a nice pair of shoes.
They were a gift from her husband right before he left her and their four children without saying goodbye.
We can stop laughing at the middle-age man who pushes the carts at Walmart.
He works two other jobs to provide for his family- his youngest son has down syndrome.
We can stop looking down on the 15 year old girl who got pregnant by her 25 year old boyfriend.
Her own friends don't even know she was raped.
We can stop arguing with the calloused old man who always seems angry.
He watched his only brother brutally die in the invasion of Sicily during World War II. They were 18 and 19 years old.
We can stop criticizing the young mother who isn't breastfeeding.
She has a high grade form of neuroendocrine carcinoma, a rare and aggressive type of terminal cancer.
You see, the love starts with us. Each and every one of us. It's so easy to judge someone without fully knowing their story, or anything about them at all. I know because I'm just as guilty as the next person. But if we want our kids and the generations after them to spread hope and love and light in this world, we have to be better examples. We have to remember that everyone has a story, a reason for why they are where they are today. And regardless of what that story is, it's our place to love them. It's what Jesus would've done. It's what God wants us to do. If we want this world to truly become a better place, we have to stop the bullying, the criticizing, the judging. Our change in behavior sadly cannot bring Brandy Vela back to life. But maybe, just maybe, it can save someone else's, and that's worth every ounce of effort and love we can pour out.
photos by Banavenue