by Father Mark Goldasich
Grumble, grumble. Gripe, gripe. Snipe, snipe.
Have we lost the ability to be happy? We’ve misplaced our sense of perspective and have forgotten how to lighten up. Snarky Facebook comments, cranky calls on radio shows and complaining letters to the editor in the newspaper make me want to shout out: “Excuse me, but would you like a little cheese with your whine?”
Here are a few recent examples:
You might have seen the picture of Bishop James Johnston, of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese, giving an autographed jersey of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes to Pope Francis during his “ad limina” visit a few days ago. It was a fun picture, everyone in the photo was laughing and, in one shot, it looked like the pope was giving the jersey a thumbs-up.
Well, start to read the comments about the photo and you want to scream. Someone said that the pope doesn’t even know American football or Mahomes so why give him the jersey? Another said that it should have been the jersey of KC kicker Harrison Butker instead, a Catholic. I stopped reading.
After the Chiefs won the AFC championship last Sunday, you’d think there would be nothing but rejoicing. No, one Facebook commenter said that people from the Kansas side of the line should take no credit for the Chiefs since they don’t pay the Missouri stadium tax. Another person lamented that even “fair weather” fans and “non-longtime” Chiefs fans were now celebrating. I rolled my eyes and closed down the computer.
For Pete’s sake, if something brings people some joy — and it’s not illegal or immoral — why can’t we just be happy for them? Why do we feel so free to comment negatively on something, but are so reluctant to commend or even notice the goodness around us?
Let’s make a start in this new year and decade to unleash kindness and support for one another. It really doesn’t take much, as Ken Davis explains in his “Lighten Up!”:
“I learned some lessons about vacuuming one day. First, I learned that our cat is terrified of vacuum cleaners. That kept me entertained for about an hour.
“As I vacuumed in one direction, a stripe would appear. Going the opposite direction would create a stripe of a different shade. Entranced, I striped the whole room. Then I went crossways, creating a checkerboard pattern. I got so carried away that I dusted the furniture and straightened the entire house.
“I was embedded in the easy chair, working on a crossword puzzle, when my wife Diane came home from work. She struggled through the door with a bag of groceries in each hand, kicked the door shut with one foot, then took in the house with an expert glance. Her mouth dropped open. Slowly, the bags slipped from her grasp and dropped to the floor.
“‘Who did this?’ she asked.
“‘I did,’ I said. Without warning, she attacked. Diving on me before I could get out of the chair, she smothered me with kisses and hugs. . . . We broke the chair. It was wonderful!
“The vacuum cleaner taught me an important lesson that day: Love is expressed with more than just words.” (Story found in “1001 Illustrations That Connect,” edited by Craig Brian Larson and Phyllis Ten Elshof.)
So, how about it? If you’re weary of all of the negativity in the world, do something about it. Live the change you want to see. Be an ambassador of kindness.
The man in the story above saw how easy it was to make someone’s day. Can we commit to doing at least one kind thing a day? Here are some quick suggestions:
• During these winter months, shovel or salt an elderly neighbor’s sidewalk, put their newspaper up by the front door or offer to walk their dog.
• Send kids at college a care package or some gift cards.
• Write thank-you notes . . . a lot of them.
• Compliment parents when their kids do something nice.
• Visit an assisted living facility and ask who doesn’t get many visitors. Then go visit those people regularly; bring the whole family.
Spend these last January days formulating your own list. But beware: Kindness is addictive and contagious.
Wow, I just realized that I started this column whining about the whiners. Guess I’d better start to take my own advice.
Until then, please pass the cheese!