Almost every day I hear people passing out unsolicited advice (aka: personal opinion) but no real help let alone understanding of a situation. In previous posts I have mentioned people talking out against co-sleeping, telling me how to parent, or letting me know I need to cherish my mom more. Not one of those people passing out the advice actually knows me. So how are they qualified to give me real advice let alone truly give me the help I might need?
This question came up tonight as I was having a conversation with my brother concerning our mother’s health. Somehow he had missed hearing the unsolicited advice I receive while at the grocery store about my relationship with our mother. While the audacity of people floors him, it doesn’t surprise him that people think they are duty bound to pass out their opinion as advice. I agree but have to take it one step further.
Not only do people feel duty bound to pass out their opinion as advice, they could really care less about your true situation and they in no way feel it is their responsibility to then help. Personally I feel that is a sad reflection of our society especially that it is not at all surprising. After all we have some of real good examples of this epidemic. The biggest one concerns the government telling women they can not have control of their bodies. At the same time the government also wants to deny health care, welfare and student lunches. So the government cares more about babies being born then they do about the lives of those same children.
I have to agree with the statement of how can you call yourself a Christian if you do not care about all lives to some extent. But that is our society. We pick and choose what we want to feel ethical about, what is convenient for us and our lives. The moment something becomes tricky, less black and white, well if it doesn’t fit into our neat little box it has to go.
Life isn’t black and white. It isn’t even just shades of gray. There is this whole box of crayons that our world is painted with. It is complicated and messy. Not everything fits into neat little boxes. And we shouldn’t be just passing out unsolicited advice unless we are truly willing to listen and help.
I am a full believer in that old adage of “if you can’t say something nice then you shouldn’t say anything at all”. The meat and bones, face value, of that adage is what it appears to be. Dig a little deeper though and well you have this saying that wraps up this problem nicely. If you aren’t willing to help then don’t keep you opinion to yourself.
See someone in line at the grocery store using food stamps? Instead of making some rude remark about getting a job, just be patient or get in another line. Silence is definitely golden in these situations when understanding is lacking. Perhaps that person is a foster parent or caseworker. Maybe the person just came from their fifth job interview in two days. Making a rude remark is more of a poor reflection of yourself than it is of the person attempting to get groceries to feed their family.
Speaking of grocery stores, please stop telling moms buying formula that they are neglectful. As a foster mom I am tired of this. I can not magically make milk flow from my breasts for a child I did not give birth to. Short of some National Enquirer level miracle it just is not going to happen. So just stop with this advice. You don’t know why that mom is buying formula so before the judgment you have passed leaks out of your mouth, just walk away.
The same thing can be said for children acting up in public. Our society may know more about mental health and disabilities but it still wants to blame the parents for any visible bad behavior. And when someone speaks out about a child’s bad behavior in public and how the parent should keep the kid at home, isn’t this just as bad as locking children up in asylums? If kids don’t have experience in public how will they ever learn? Is keeping them at home because they have a disability that might be disruptive the real (only) answer?
That is only mentioning a very small portion of issues I have dealt with let alone seen and heard. That is very sad in my book.
Instead of being a society of opinion givers, commentators and voyeurs, would it not be great if we were truly a society of doers?
A kid is screaming on a bus. The parent (s) look embarrassed and ready to fall apart. Instead of giving a sideways glance or sneer, maybe ask “are you ok?”, “is your kid ok?”, “is there anything I can do to help you?”. Once an answer is given then turn around and pretend like it is normal. That kid could be autistic not throwing a tantrum. The parents could be at their wits end because they tried everything to make that bus trip go right.
The number of times I am at my wits end because three munchkins in my shopping cart are pressing my buttons and acting up in public sometimes feels uncountable. What makes those moments livable are the people that give the kids a sticker. Not the ones that tell me the kids could be worse let alone the people shaking their head and muttering things.
If the world was filled with true doers/helpers, then maybe, just maybe that would be a wonderful place to be.