Let it Go
Something that's been on my mind a lot lately...
Between my brother and sister and their spouses, there are seven little uns in my family right now. So even though I myself am childless, I know all about dora and lego star wars and pull-ups. Heck, I even know the potty dance. But lately, the most relevant cultural reference in our family is the phrase "let it go". And while it does hail from the movie Frozen, we do not use it in the context of climate-crashing, sister-murdering lawlessness. Instead, it's a phrase used when little mouths set to bickering and cousins and siblings get all bent out of shape over who did what or said what.
You do know what I'm talking about.
"Just let it go", we tell them, when one comes calling for blood.
"But she said I'm a stupid head."
"Are you a stupid head?"
"Has she convinced anyone else that you're a stupid head?"
"Then what does it matter what she calls you? You know the truth about yourself. You can choose to be bothered, or to move on and enjoy your life. Let it go."
It's a particularly painful life lesson that takes years to take root, but it's totally necessary for peace of mind and peace of country. The ability to not take offense has always been one of the great keys to happiness, as dictated by normal, reasonable, common sense.
And then came social media.
There is little reason to be found on facebook.
Now grown men and women get caught up in anonymous arguments over who did what and who said what. If you disagree with me, I'm going to call you a stupid head. Publicly. And if you answer back, I will tell on you. I will be wounded and bitter and I will demand reparation. And then I will compare my hurt feelings to a time and place when people could be lynched for drinking from the wrong water fountain. As if that makes any sense.
Or my personal favourite: random angry person claims you are hateful and then proceeds to wish that you would get hit by a bus or die of cancer. Uh huh.
In so many ways, this society has grown, expanded and overcome. Look at history and think of the aforementioned lynchings. In other ways, it has digressed to the mental and emotional state of a four year old who flies into a rage if her sister has more fruit snacks than she does.
The bottom line is not who is right, who is wrong, who is good, or who is evil. The bottom line is who is free.
Are you free? Because if you are, then so is everyone else. And if they aren't free, then neither are you. We don't need laws to protect people who toe the line of political correctness and popular opinion. We need laws to protect the people who don't.
These may be unpleasant dots to connect, but if you demand that a person be fired for a private conversation, or that talented, qualified people be turned away because they're the wrong gender, or insist that a business owner has no right to control their own business, or that a family should be banned because they accept different medical research than you do...then you are offended by freedom.
And you will continue to be offended. Every time you get online. And arguing will not make you right. It will only make you unhappy.
In our family, the phrase "let it go" does not mean people are allowed to be cruel or criminal. They are just allowed to be wrong. To make mistakes. To form their opinions. To find their voice. It's a realization of the power we each have to choose how to think, act, and feel, regardless of what another person chooses. It's human perspective and it's the ability to live free.
If someone calls you a stupid head, they have not hurt you. Not really.
And if one person doesn't want to associate with you, then go and find someone who does.
And you may not be the type of person who participates in smear campaigns on twitter - but I think being offended has become an epidemic of varying gradations, and we all could stand a little self doctoring. We all could let it go a little more often.
And now you're going to be singing the Disney song all day.