Barbara saw this comment on Facebook: “‘Happy Mother’s Day,’ a fellow on my bus yelled today.” This innocent comment said in good faith triggered a deluge of mixed responses in this semi-public forum. One person wrote: “The guy on the bus is oblivious to the fact that it could be painful to those who lost mothers, wanted to be mothers but couldn't, have estrangements from parent or progeny etc. Be aware, people. This holiday is not happy for everyone.”
Once the FB faucet is turned on, the responses start to gush. Another person wrote, "Wow, I think you're 100% wrong. We need to live in a civil society and recognize when someone in that society is trying to be kind. There are 300+ million Americans and I/we don't know each of their stories individually or ever will. But we can recognize when someone is attempting to be nice or kind. And I will, on Fathers Day, Mothers Day, whatever day wish people a happy whatever day. I'm as left leaning as they come and even I see this as political correctness on steroids. I lost a brother to gun violence, a fact I expect no one in the general public to know. So I wouldn't hold it against someone who made a general announcement such as 'Happy Siblings Day.'"
And that person followed up with another comment. "My mother lost her son to gun violence. Should I call her up and say 'Happy Mothers Day' or spare her her feelings?"
Innocently saying “Happy Mother’s Day” and enduring the fallout rather reminded us of the complaints we’ve heard for years when folks we don't know throw out similar niceties like at holiday time. Most rather innocently say: "Merry Christmas," "Happy Holidays," "Happy Easter." Some friends who are Jewish complain that the greeter should say, "Happy Holidays," since they don't celebrate Christmas, a Christian holiday. Then we hear someone Christian complain that the "Happy Holidays" is so generic, nonreligious and ignores the religious meaning of a very religious day that's been overly commercialized. Some of those folks wonder how anyone could possibly say "Happy Easter" when others in the world celebrate Passover! Oh, me oh my, such hullabaloo. What are we to do, sit there like mannequins?
As more comments flooded the FB site, we started talking and analyzing, as we like to do, about the subject at hand. Do you think anything else was really at the root of such strong visceral responses?” Barbara asked Margaret. We both agreed that we think all the buzz really had nothing or little to do with the holiday at hand. It goes much deeper.
It seems that everyone is so bent out of shape about everything today. Anger simmering just waiting to boil over and POW! Look at what happened recently with the airlines. Fights have erupted whether it's due to the political upheaval, or annoyance about someone having more than 10 items in a 10 and fewer food line and thinking nobody will notice or count, or someone trying to butt into our lane when driving because they have to be somewhere important--and we don't, or so they think it’s perfectly okay to invade our space.
The truth is that almost all the time all of us would not be terribly inconvenienced if we had to wait a bit longer for someone pushier or more rushed or stressed to get out of the grocery store faster and go ahead of us--it would be nice if they asked first, however. "Would you mind? I only have one item." said nicely does a world of good. Same goes for the car driver who could have rolled down his window and yelled out, "Do you mind?" and then added a "Thanks” if we waved and said, "Go right ahead." In both cases, we probably would have felt great being so kind.
Let’s face it folks, that's not what usually happens. Instead, we all are so stressed or frustrated so much of the time that at some point we explode. We've simply reached a point in our society when we have less patience and tolerance for anything and anybody who's not absolutely in sync with us or does what we want 100 percent to our liking. Partly at fault is the inability of many of us to listen to one another. So we give the pushy food shopper a snarky look or speak up. "What were you thinking trying to sneak in that Skippy peanut butter as item 11 in a lane for 10 items?" Or we really go berserk with the driver who cuts us off?
When push comes to shove--and it sometimes does literally result in this nowadays, we actually think that it was very nice of the man on the bus to wish everyone a "Happy Mother's Day." It probably made him feel good and a lot of riders feel special. Goodness can be contagious; so can anger. Which would you prefer? Maybe, the driver could have tempered his comment with, "Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers on board!" or "Shall we take a moment to think of our mothers today?”
Let’s try to diffuse our anger with humor which is desperately needed as is greater sensitivity toward others who differ from us in so many ways. We think the bus driver was right and so was our FB friend who made us think a bit more about what we say and how we sound when we say it. See, we believe it’s important to listen to both sides.
“Happy Friday!” We think that's OK to say, isn't it?