It's a simple concept: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. What happened to that idea?
It's a question that crossed my mind when I thought about the two special days that converge on October 20th: the National Day on Writing, created a year ago by the National Council of Teachers of English to celebrate writing in all its forms; and LGBT Spirit Day, created less than a month ago by a teenager named Brittany McMillan to honor gay and lesbian teens who have taken their own lives.
We live in a time of mean-spiritedness. Politicians point their fingers at scapegoats — Mexicans, Muslims, gays and lesbians, atheists. Bullying voices try to silence dissent. Snarkiness masquerades as cleverness when it's really just meanness in a clown suit. Text-messages and Facebook pages become convenient media for bullying and humiliation.
Everywhere we turn, we see someone trying to make someone else feel inadequate and unloved. We read about teenagers who literally have been harassed to death for being gay and what seems to be an increase in assaults and murders of gay men and women. And it doesn't stop there. Last week I read the shocking story of Kathleen Edward, whose neighbors harassed her on Facebook and paraded a coffin in front of her house; Kathleen is seven years old and dying of Huntington's Disease. A New York Times article, "The Playground Gets Even Tougher," describes kindergarteners harassing one another, in some cases with the approval of their evidently sociopathic parents.
I don't know about you, but I'm sick of it. New York City's anti-terrorism task force uses this slogan to encourage people to report suspicious behavior: If You See Something, Say Something. Let's adopt it for person-to-person terrorism, too. If you see or hear someone being mocked or harassed, use your words for good: Say something. I will, too.