I’m standing at the counter in the doctor’s office, waiting to schedule my next checkup, when a stranger approaches and makes a snarky crack because I’m wearing a long-sleeve cotton t-shirt in the summer.
Now this woman could be Tommy Boy’s lost twin—not that there’s anything wrong with resembling Chris Farley. But she has a near-platinum rounded hair bob and is wearing solid smiley-face yellow from her collar to the cuff of her Capri pants. Perhaps not the wisest wardrobe choice for a female Farley.
So this giant lemon drop has strolled up to me, completely unsolicited, and—with all the condescension of Miss Piggy at her diva best—announced that I look ridiculous for wearing long sleeves. As we say in the American South, some people just need to be slapped. But that’s an expression, not rational problem-solving advice. Suppressing the urge to comment on being momentarily blinded by her neon presence, I simply say, “I’m comfortable,” and turn to the desk clerk.
What is it with people?
The other day I learned of a friend who’d had a worse experience online. Social media shouldn’t be a conduit for people to offer unsolicited criticism of their buddies’ families, parenting, cultural or political tastes, and certainly not how well they’re representing their various spiritual beliefs. But good grief, when people take it upon themselves to send critical messages to “friends of friends”—individuals they don’t even know—it really is time to …
One thing I’ve learned since reconnecting with a lot of my old friends through Facebook is that the world has taken a toll on many of us. We’ve struggled through loss, illness, family breakups, financial distress, and other tragedies. Life is hard, and the only things we should be offering each other are comfort, support, and love. If we can’t be helpful, then at least we can be silent. Here are some more thoughts on the subject:
“Don’t abuse your friends and expect them to consider it criticism.”
—Edgar Watson Howe, journalist
“Hesitancy in judgment is the only true mark of the thinker.”
—Dagobert D. Runes, philosophical writer
“Short judgments make long friends.”
“Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.”
—Dandemis, writer and lawyer
“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain—and most fools do.”
—Dale Carnegie, trainer and author
“One ought to examine himself for a very long time before thinking of condemning others.”
“Be curious, not judgmental.”
—Walt Whitman, poet
“Kind thoughts are rarer than either kind words or deeds. They imply a great deal of thinking about others. This in itself is rare. But they also imply a great deal of thinking about others without the thoughts being criticisms. This is rarer still.”
—Frederick W. Faber, priest and hymn writer
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