Scrolling through the Amazon book selections, I ran across the title recommended to me on account of my past selections, the book Thou Shall Not be a Jerk, A Christian's Guide to Engaging Politics,” written by Eugene Cho.
I am pretty sure this is the message, Don’t be a jerk,” reads between the lines of the top ten. If we could only act on these words and use them as a social cue, for all of our actions and inactions as a socially responsible adult/human. Yesterday, I imagined that it was the concept of, “love’ between the lines of the Commandments. Today, I have changed my mind. “Don’t be a jerk”, is a great commandment. We have all seen the signs, “Be Kind,” “Just Be Kind,” “Kindness Matters.” I think we are becoming jaded, or immune to positive messages, for they are plastered everywhere, and I wonder, do these words on billboards, and tee-shirts actually make people be kind? Has anyone ever done a study on the impact of advertising for kindness? I would love to be proved wrong.
Maybe the message of kindness is getting to be old hat, maybe we cannot hear these words anymore, maybe it is overused, I dunno. What I do know, it seems that we might need another slogan. I’m just about to order some bumper stickers and yard signs that says, “Thou Shall not be a jerk” and even sign it, -God-. Admittedly, I have caught myself on numerous occasions, wanting to bite back when I’m offended by a snarky remark on social media. My delete button has been used early and often after writing back an equally versed snarkism, “Don’t be a jerk.” I remind myself. I hear my grandmother’s wisdom, “You catch more flies with honey, than with vinegar.” And, the colloquialism, “if you cannot say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Don’t be a jerk! This season of pandemic and social dis-ease has me between the rails. One moment I am full of optimism and hope, and then my cynicism and handwringing take over. It seems to be a daily battle of good vs. evil. My antidote is to continue to learn and listen, reading books and listening to podcasts, and reaching out with a voice of gentility and care, well most of the time.
After I read, Don’t be a Jerk, next in my reading cue will be, A Gentle Answer: Our 'Secret Weapon' in an Age of Us Against Them, written by Scott Saul. Wish me luck!