By Abe Villarreal
I buy a copy of the newspaper every day, and one of the sections that I never miss to read is the obituary page.
I’ve read some of the most beautiful testaments and tributes of character in these death notices. Most of them are routine. A picture of a smiling older man or woman followed by the birth and death dates, names of those that preceded in death, and a few tidbits of personality.
Sometimes the picture is one of those beautiful, vintage black and white portraits. A young lady on her wedding day with those typically 1940’s curls and a smile straight out of Look Magazine. Another favorite is the happy soldier headshot. A young, brave G.I. ready to go out and give his contribution to the war effort.
We often learn about how much dad made everyone laugh or how grandpa loved working on the old car with the grandkids. Aunt Sally volunteered at church and brother’s smile will never be forgotten.
The truth is that people are complex creatures with life stories that are filled with highs and lows. The heartbreaks and career failures are all part of the complete picture. But obituaries are not the place to point the negative.
Same goes for eulogies. Close friends and family members make their way to the pulpit to tell funny jokes and share happy memories.
And for some reason, we save the sharing of intimate moments until it’s too late. While we are alive, we remember to poke at each other and push each other's buttons. We bring up past transgressions and live out the familiar phrase – forgive but don’t forget.
We have to teach kids to say thank you and please because it’s not apparent anymore.
I see videos on Facebook of everyday heroes, and yet their acts are not quite so heroic. The videos show guys opening doors for women or little boys helping the elderly up and down stairs. These videos go viral because they seem strange and it’s not surprising. Our culture is changing at lightning speed.
We want to be accepting of everyone and everything. In our journey to be open-minded, we are losing some of ourselves. Each culture has a unique identity. It’s what makes traveling the world and meeting new people an amazing experience but what do foreigners see in us during their visits?
Do they see us greeting each other with smiles and handshakes or do they see us looking down at our phones, lost in a virtual world of ourselves – scrolling and scrolling and scrolling?
Do they see us listening to each other, patiently and with appreciation? A changing culture also means a changing people. As we progress in some areas, we may be digressing in others.
I don’t think we are the people we read about in our own obituaries or hear about in eulogies. We need a campaign of kindness, but we might think it’s too corny. People that smile too much seem crazy.
In 2018, what we see on TV is all about acting tough and putting each other down. It’s cool to be right and to show others that they are wrong. Everyone wants to be the school bully.
Go out and try a random act of kindness today. Let’s show each other that being kind, physically and emotionally, is not a thing of the past.