Early this morning, I got to watch a rerun of Oprah. She was talking about her Christmas trip to South Africa and how she wanted to make every child there feel special. She told her own story of how, as an eight-year old, she received a compliment from a pretty lady, which she has never forgotten. Oprah said it was the first time somebody made her think that she might be beautiful too and it stayed with her all these years.
It was an emotional moment when her producers brought forth the same woman who made her feel special. I felt tears prickle my eyes as I witnessed how moved everyone at the studio was. What made the episode more special to me was the reminder that we may not recall saying a kind word to someone, but to the recipient, the positive ripples may well be remembered in a lifetime.
That made me stop and think. Too often, I see people blurting out unkind words without a thought of hurting someone else, all in the guise of exercising freedom of speech or voicing one’s opinion. And I wonder, do those people really feel better after having bulldozed something someone said?
These thoughts played in my mind because I was recently a recipient of very unkind words from someone. In one of my e-groups, somebody asked for information about something. I replied with what I know and augmented my statements with what I thought. I wasn’t being argumentative, nor was there any intention of starting a word war. In all innocence, I posted my answers because I wanted to help. And what did I get? A hate mail I can’t make heads or tails of except that the sender seemed genuinely wanting to start a fight, going as far as calling me names. And I don’t even know her! So I ignored the email and went on with my life. It’s just sad that there are persons with unhappy lives who could only find joy in seeing others wallow in misery too.
Isn’t it better for us all to always remind ourselves to refrain from saying cutting words and instead focus on making others feel better about themselves? What happened to constructive criticisms or gentle rebukes huh? I salute Oprah for opening a lot of people’s eyes through that segment. It made my resolve stronger to try and uplift other people as much as possible instead of putting them down with negative words or actions. Wouldn’t we all love to hear someone tell us, “You’re beautiful and you’re special”? I do. And it’s not really about vanity but an affirmation of ourselves as wonderful human beings.