About 10 years ago I was on I-99, traveling downtown from North Seattle to Queen Anne. There was a very old, dilapidated red Yugo driving in front of me. There was a balding, 350+ pound man driving the car. There was no passenger with him in the car. The car was leaning significantly to the left as the car was off balance. There was nothing spectacular about this scene. A normal day. A normal dude. Just driving his car downtown Seattle. But…as the traffic slowed us down, I saw that on his bumper, his bumper sticker read, ‘Mean People Suck’. It was slightly askew. Don’t know exactly why, but I couldn’t stop laughing. Not laughing at him, but laughing with him. At the world. It wasn’t particularly obtrusive a saying. It wasn’t offensive. It was just plain true. And, if you know me well, you know how much I hate the word ‘suck’. Puh-lease, you can always come up with a better, more descriptive word than ‘suck’. But, in this situation, there is no more perfect way of saying it. Mean People Suck. Oh So True.
How do you describe ‘mean’? For me, it means ‘not nice’. It also means someone who intentionally leaves someone out. Excludes someone. I always try and be tolerant of people who leave someone out. ALWAYS give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they just don’t know. They have never experienced what I am experiencing. They haven’t walked a mile in my shoes, nor have I theirs. I shouldn’t judge them, as I don’t want them to judge me. But, I am deciding to draw the line in the sand and say, ‘at some point…people are just plain mean…they suck’. Maybe they should be accountable for their choices.
I’m just not quite understanding how a Kindergartener who is in Special Ed can get left out of so much. The Kindergarten pumpkin patch field trip day…the Kindergarten buddy system…the pre-Kindergarten get togethers. And that’s all I know about. I’m not even at the school but to pick my son up each day. I’m astonished by this. At first I thought it an oversight. I made excuses for them. Then, as I’m seeing more and more of this I’m beginning to wonder…what is going on? First and foremost, I see that my son is a Kindergartener at Said Elementary School. Secondary to that, I see that he is a student in Room #5. Just as I see that he is first and foremost a sweet 5 year old boy. He just happens to have autism. It doesn’t define him first.
This is tough for me. I’m not a hugely self-righteous individual. But, I know what is right. I know what is wrong. I know what is nice. I know what is mean.
And, of all days, I encounter another ‘mean’ act. WHO has a boy/girl birthday party for 13 year old and only invites some of the kids from the class of a school that an entire grade is only 35 kids? WHO? At some point I think that there is a choice that people make…nice or mean? That’s kinda what it boils down to. It’s not very grey at that point…it’s kinda black or white. Yes or No. No room for maybe in that equation.
I understand the group dynamic thing. I get that in order to make yourself feel like you’re ‘included’ that you must make other feel ‘excluded’. I get that there is no ‘us’, unless there is a ‘them’…for some people. If only people were secure enough in their own selves to just be them. True to themselves. When will that happen? Seriously, I feel like I relive high school on a daily basis. Same choices and same insecurities driving people. That’s totally fine if people want to treat me that way. I’ve dealt with my insecurities and am extremely open about that part of me. I am an adult. I am waiting for someone else to come to the table and have a real conversation. You can say all you want to me. I would love to engage in that conversation. Playing out this situation through our kids is unacceptable. I don’t get it. It is mean. This kind of mean is intentional. I don’t get that. Ever. I guess that it just boils down to, ‘Mean People Suck’.
I would have to say as a counter to that, ‘Nice People Rule!’. Just think about it…when someone smiles at you, you can’t help by smile back at them…when someone extends their hand to you, you receive it…gratefully. People, lets think about that! Kindness goes a long, long ways.