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Doodle Bugs, Julius Caesar, and the Thumper Rule…

Last week’s blog was about grief. I recalled my journey through it and the lessons I’ve learned from the loss of my father twenty-eight years ago. In my conclusion, I shared how I felt stronger than I have in a very long time, and that “I’ve strived to be prepared for October and whatever surprises it dishes out.”

Well, who knew that yet another October surprise would come my way?

And who knew that it would be in the form of a virus that has invaded my family?

Wow. Forrest Gump was so right about Life being like a box of chocolates. I sure never expected this.

Just a quick explanation of the circumstances: my son tested positive, he lives with my mom, in an effort to try to keep my mom from getting the virus our son came to stay with us, which meant we would have to be quarantined for 14 days, AND then my mom tested positive, as well.

I am currently with her, and at this time, she just has cold-like symptoms and is doing well. Prayers are appreciated.

I’ve been thinking a lot about viruses of late. Obviously, we have all heard about or experienced first or second-hand the virus known as “Corona” that has swept through our world.

In addition to this plague, there are many other viruses going around: the virus of hate, intolerance, uncivility, pride, haughtiness, contempt, and disrespect. If you are on any social media platform, you are more than likely well-versed in the “over-the-top” political divisiveness and vitriol.

Daily, as I peruse Facebook, I seem to scroll faster when I see some of the comments and arguments about the election. It’s a common sentiment, but you aren’t going to change anyone’s political stance or beliefs via Facebook. At some point, you have to decide to show self-control and restraint, and just “scroll on by.”

One of the hardest things in life is learning when NOT to have the last word. Sometimes it’s best to leave things unsaid. Words come with a price. Think about the outcome before you blurt or vomit out your position, “come-back,” or hateful remark. It might feel good, initially, but more than likely, after you hit submit or send, that feeling will fade and will be replaced with regret.

No political difference, opposing point of view, or misunderstanding is worth the loss of a friend. The election will end, the results will happen, and we will move on. Don’t leave people behind because of your hatred or dislike of the “other side.”

When people react spontaneously, without reviewing their thoughts, without considering the consequences of their words, it’s generally because there is something much deeper going on. And in that swift and thoughtless moment, the speaker feels a sense of power and control, something they probably lack in their day to day existence.

I’ve been on both ends of this: I’ve hoarded words and left them unsaid, and I’ve said things that have left me filled with regret. If I had to choose, I would always go with the unspoken word. It’s safer, and more respectful, and if you are patient, you will be able to think of a nicer way of making your point, without personally attacking or hammering the other person. You see, it is always better to be kind, than to be right.

Have you ever observed a doodle bug? I was absolutely fascinated with them as a young girl. As they moved across the ground, I always longed to pick up one of these tiny creatures. Each time I made contact with the roly-poly when attempting to put it in my hand or on my arm, it would roll up into a ball, recoil, and react to my touch.

I soon discovered that if I was patient, and waited, it would eventually unroll, and begin to move. In my opinion, there is no more calming or peaceful imagery or feeling from childhood than the soft and soothing tickle of a doodle bug gently moving across your skin.

My favorite book, To Kill A Mockingbird, wonderfully illustrates the seemingly simple lessons of a doodle bug. Scout is playing with a roly-poly on the porch. Her older brother, Jem, intervenes before she can squash the harmless bug. Scout asks Jem why she can’t smash it, and he replies, “Because they don’t bother you.”

Scout is too young to understand the sensitive, deeper reason Jem prevents her from squashing the doodle bug.  After witnessing the wrongful conviction of Tom Robinson, Jem understands the importance of protecting  innocent, defenseless beings. Just like Atticus uses the metaphor of not killing mockingbirds, Jem has learned to respect all innocent beings. This illustrates his maturity and growth into a morally upright young man—-a man much like his father.

There are many lessons to be learned about how we treat doodle bugs and people. In the end, kindness and patience pays off. If you let things pass, relax, and wait, you will experience the joy and softness of a shared experience and exchange, rather than crushing the other’s spirit, causing them to recoil, and retreat.

And that’s all you can do if words of strife have separated you—-hope and pray that eventually things will work out.

Speaking your mind is a risk. It’s like in football when it’s fourth down and one yard to go. If you punt, you’re giving up on the chance of scoring and leaving points on the field. If you go for it and don’t make it, you might have failed, but at least you tried. And if you score, you put yourself out there, accepted the challenge and were successful. As a coach, I would probably be fired for this philosophy, but as a friend, I believe in always “going for it” on fourth and one.

In the end, all we can do is try. Never be too proud to admit you’re wrong. Always try to take the high road—-I hear there’s less traffic. And on those days, when you’re not at your best, and you say or do something you regret, apologize.

There’s a simple rule I learned as a young child, and it came from the movie “Bambi.” It’s called the “Thumper Rule,” and I refer to it often as a junior high counselor. Thumper, a little rabbit, remarks that young Bambi is “kind of wobbly.” His mother quickly intervenes and has him repeat what his father had taught him earlier, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” It’s much more adorable the way sweet Thumper says it:

In a loud-mouthed world, we could all use more Thumpers. Let’s try to be kinder, and more empathetic (completely preaching to myself here).

Everyone’s fighting some sort of battle. We all have bad days. Don’t let your need to pontificate your thoughts, perspectives, or opinions hurt someone else. It’s not worth it. Even on your worst day, be kind.

Several years back, when a difficult decision was made in a situation I was connected to, a person commented, “Et tu, Brute.” The comment wasn’t made to me, but was made to someone close to me. The words cut deeply, and thankfully, the person eventually apologized.

I’ve flippantly used that phrase before, and didn’t stop to consider the power of those words. I thought it was a great way to end a conversation in a way where I was snapping my fingers in victory—-a kind of, “I guess I told you moment.” When I spit out this cut down, I failed to remember the way those words made me feel at a time when all that was sought in the situation was support, encouragement and agreement.

Words can be forgiven, but not forgotten. If you must have the last word, make it a kind one.

AND…

If you’re looking for a candidate to support this year, Vote Thumper 2020—-because we could all use the softness of rabbits and doodle bugs, the innocence of childhood, and the hope for more peaceful times.

The world needs to hear more from Thumper, and I need to remember when it’s best to say “nuffin’ at all.”

I appreciate all of you who read my thoughts each week. You’re my reason to continue to “go for it” when it feels like it’s fourth and one…

 

 

 

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