I went on Amazon a while back, just to check out comments on my newest book, 25000 Mornings. It made me want to quit writing, quit being online at all. The world out there was mean and cruel and stupid. Or so I thought for more than a few moments.
Here’s the thing: 25000 Mornings, is called a devotional, but only for want of a better term. It is not an exposition of scripture; it was not meant to be. It is what it is, just a compilation of stories and/or thoughts, from life or the scriptures, designed to turn your mind and heart toward God sometime during your busy day. It didn’t claim to be much more.
So I was disturbed when a review on Amazon gave the book a 1/5 rating for not being what it isn’t.
There were a few 5/5’s, but it wasn’t until the next day that I decided they should make a difference to how I felt. Thankfully, after the initial “stab in the heart” I realized I should be happy about the general 4/5 rating. After all, why should I expect everyone to love my little book?
Are you tracking with my progress here?
Day three brought even more insight into what should be my stance. I finally got to the place where I wondered why I find such inordinate pleasure in the idea that most reviewers liked my book. If I wrote what I believe to be true, and did so for the right reason, why should the approval of others mean SO much? Even so much as to make me want to quit writing if the approval wasn’t there? And, even more important, shouldn’t someone who didn’t applaud my book be free to say so without my putting him in the class of “hater” because of it?
Oh, Fay! You are such a product of your time!
Day four brought me to a calmer place, conducive to more grown-up thinking about love, hate, and disengagement, in general. That day, it came from the comments I had just read online, after articles, Facebook posts, etc. Much at it is every day, some were reasoned and well presented, on both sides of an issue. Many, sadly, were rude and palpably hateful.
To tell the truth, I prefer reading posts, article, and comments that support my own views. You do, too, right? Human nature? But I am thankful that we are all free to say what we think, whether our beliefs are informed or not, reasonable or not, well intentioned or not. And THAT is what is most important. Freedom, and exercising it. I appreciate everyone who values and uses that freedom, even those who are not reasoned and kind, because freedom has to be exercised or it will grow weak and possibly die.
Most of the people reading this will not be among those who verbally abuse others and think they are making a difference by doing so. But I do hope we aren’t among those who shut down from engagement of any sort because we don’t want to offend.
If our words offend, that is our fault.
If our ideas offend, that is someone else’s problem.
If we allow fear of abuse or misunderstanding, or even loss of friends or popularity, to cause us to disengage from public discourse, then everyone loses. Freedom is lost. If it is lost for any, it is lost for all.
But let’s be kind out there, folks.