On my lunch break, I was listening to NPR and heard a debate going on about whether it's fair to consider celebrities such as Serena and Kanye to be role models, and whether or not a celebrity's Public Apology After Doing Something Horrendous really covers over all manner of sins—like threatening a person just doing her job or stealing the limelight from a deserving honoree. Personally, I think the pair of them should take a page out of Chris Brown's book and go on Larry King wearing a bowtie and pretending to be contrite while also shoving off blame on That Terrible Childhood I Had. That's a surefire way to gain public absolution.
Let me just take this moment to clear something up.
Anyone in public life? ROLE MODEL. Anyone who deals with the public? ROLE MODEL. Anyone who puts themselves out there (even little bitty bloggers like me)? ROLE MODEL. Do you make money by pasting your image all over books, magazines, commercials, sportswear...? You get my drift.
If you gain notoriety for even the tiniest faction of your personality or rare talent—like being a sports star, or a performing artist, or even a blogger—your responsibility for being a decent person indubitably reaches beyond your private life and your own circle of friends and loved ones, and it extends to the viewing/reading/listening/cheering public.
Believe it or not, that's why I self-edit on this blog, and by that I mean I don't just say whatever I feel like saying and post knee-jerk reactions to things because This Is My Space and Nobody Else's! (I'll wait until the laughter subsides). No, really, I do. That's one reason why I don't use pseudonyms on this blog. I knew from the get-go that if I needed anonymity to write what I wanted to write, then maybe I should reevaluate what I'm writing. Did you follow that?
Note: I'm in no way passing judgment on people who do choose a certain level of online anonymity, mind you, because most of you are responsible non-trolls who just want to protect some level of personal privacy. And that's fine. Although we all know how I feel about choosing to be anonymous for the sake of being
I feel like I've gotten a little off course here, so I'll skip ahead to the point...
And now, The Point! Every single person in this world has the responsibility to every other person in this world to be decent, if not kind.
After I read RA's post, I shared my feelings with Noah, and he in turn shared a passage with me from Teacher Man that I had forgotten about. In this passage, Frank McCourt tells his students that "Little Bo Peep" is his favorite poem, and they don't believe him. But he's totally serious, and explains that it's his favorite because "Little Bo Peep backs off. … She trusts her sheep. She leaves them alone, and they come home. … while Bo Peep knits by the fire, happy in the knowledge that in her daily rounds, caring for the sheep and their offspring, she has bothered nobody."
Just don't freakin bother anybody. Don't hurl profanities at an unsuspecting line judge. Don't run on stage and yank the microphone out of a girl's hand and use it to declare her victory a sham. Don't beat your girlfriend. Don't be rude to library customers just trying to do the right thing. Or as Mary at FIT THIS, Girl! wrote, don't be "too easily annoyed at people who are doing their best" or fuss and complain about situations that are not a big deal. There are too many problems in this world, and none of them will be solved by people being jerks to other people.
Just. Don't. If you can't manage the Golden Rule, at least give this one a try: Bother nobody.