When did the world get so mean?
I mean I know it’s nasty but at the same time, it’s been in my face lately. Probably you’ve noticed it too. The Olympics were a prime example. It’s supposed to be a competition for athletes. “Faster, Higher, Stronger” is the motto. It’s a good ideal for an athlete to aspire to. Good sportsmanship is part of it too. Or should be.
In Rio, we saw some awesome feats of athleticism as well as some great displays of integrity and good sportsmanship. You have your favourites. I don’t need to list any for you. But then… there was some behaviour that wasn’t so winsome.
A majority of bad behaviour came from spectators who watched from miles away. I thought the point of having people watch your event was so that they could cheer you on? To give you the inspiration to eek out that last burst of energy and give it a hundred and ten percent. However, the opinion of the spectator became “the sport” so to speak. Many tweeted hurtful accusations and made nasty comments to the athletes competing. When did this become acceptable behaviour?
As I reflect on the Games, it appears that the bad behaviour is a reflection of what has happened all summer. Hate. It seems to make all the good pale in comparison. But we can’t let it. In this age of hate, now more than ever, we need to TURN to winsomeness and TURN AWAY from hateful bullying.
I already wrote about kindness earlier this summer and you can read that here. Kindness is key but there’s another component, I believe, to making a positive difference in this world.
In his book Esther, Charles Swindoll writes about Esther’s winsome personality. How that kind of attitude helped her regardless of her surroundings. “A person who is winsome draws you to him or her. We are intrigued by that person’s charming and gracious spirit.” (Esther, p. 49-50) He makes a great point.
If I remember correctly I think Swindoll even put the definition of winsome in his book. I’m going to follow his lead because it’s not a word we hear much anymore.
I think we need it back in our vocabulary. We need to TURN to winsomeness.
The dictionary describes Winsome (adjective) as:
attractive or appealing in appearance or character: a winsome smile.
A person who is winsome in character is charismatic. They draw people in because most people are attracted to people who are good. Esther was kind. She wasn’t haughty even though she was beautiful. She listened to those in authority. She was smart. Winsomeness is well, it’s a winner. (Sorry couldn’t resist!)
If we TURNED to being winsome, what would our worlds look like? Our workplaces? Our homes? I know I could use a dose of it myself. My family would really appreciate it some days!
Being winsome is opposite of bullying. Stopping bullying, which is really just hate and fear wrapped up together, is only going to stop if we TURN AWAY from it. I mean us. The adults.
As a parent, I was disappointed by some of the comments I read on social media and I didn’t read much! I’m really glad my kids are not yet allowed to be on Twitter and Facebook. Kids can be mean. I see it in my own kids. I see it in their friends and on the playground. They are children after all. They need to be taught how to be kind. Winsome.
But it wasn’t the kids doing the cyber bullying. Most of these comments were made by adults.
There is something so terribly wrong with that fact. Why are we so surprised by cyber bullying with our tweens and teens? We’ve taught our children how to be mean. We do it as we write ugly comments on social media. We won’t go have a face to face conversation with that person but we’ll hide behind a computer screen. Or talk behind our hands. We don’t keep our comments to ourselves. Some things are better left unsaid. My world would be a better place if I stayed silent even half the time!
We tell our kids to be kind to each other but then we go and snipe at our spouses. We don’t practice self-control. I don’t think TURNING AWAY from this behaviour is optional. I know we’d like it to be. I definitely would like an optional button some days! It’s always easier to be hurtful than it is to be winsome.
Winsome is not perfection. A winsome parent can make mistakes. Apologies can go a long ways to building love, respect and winsomeness in our families, our workplaces and in our neighbourhoods.
If as parents, grandparents, adults we TURNED to winsomeness and TURNED AWAY from bullying and hate, modelled that for our kids, would the world be a different place? It might be worth a minute to think about that. Imagine it. Dream about it.
We can only control our own behaviour. It might not be the whole answer but I think it’s a good place to start. What’s it going to hurt?
“When I read God’s Word, I don’t find that many stories about great crusades and city-wide revivals and mass meetings where God’s attention rested on an entire country or a whole community. More often, I find individual men and women who made a difference, who set the pace or cut a wide swath or stood in the gap and changed their times. From Genesis to Revelation, we see God’s hand on the lives of individuals who thought and said and did what was right – regardless- and as a result, history was made.” Esther by Charles Swindoll, p. 77