Rise above it…

Rise above it

Last month, when I was searching the internet for the perfect gift for a friend’s birthday, this beautiful print by Amanda Cass found its way to my browser and I fell in love with it (and all of her work for that matter). I sat and stared at it for the longest time, loving the colour, the peace, the way she floats above the chaos beneath her, the way love pulls her safely up, gently above it all. It was perfect.

As blessings in disguise would have it, FedEx lost the original package and the American supplier shipped me another one just in time for it to be two weeks late. Then last Friday, the original one arrived in the post. It is sitting in my lounge room, waiting to be framed to hang in my office, reminding me, daily, to rise above the little challenges, the temptations to yell at my children when they frustrate the life out of me, to take criticism to heart, to stress about money, to worry that I’m still not ‘there’ yet. ‘Rise above it’ she seems to whisper to me, quietly, calmly, lovingly. It is a gift, this new, beautiful piece of art in my house.

Rising above it can be easier said than done some days. And some things are just harder to find peace with than others. In the last week I have had two friends talk to me about the devastating effects of bullying of both the real life and internet kind. Both equally insidious. Oscar is doing his school project on cyber safety and internet bullying and while I applaud his school for raising awareness of it, it’s sad that it is so necessary for 9 year olds to understand it.

I am still very new to the wild beast that is social media and naive I’m sure about dos and don’ts and particular etiquette but there seems to be a growing pattern of appalling behaviour online, fuelled by the anonymity of online usernames and the facelessness of internet interactions. I am often shocked at just how vicious posts on the web can be. I don’t understand it. I am all for healthy debate and the right to disagree but respectfully expressing your opinion is vastly differently from viciously attacking anyone who dares not to share it.

Good manners, respect and basic human kindness online seem to have become relics of a time when our conversations had to be more personal and our grievances were either aired directly to the person involved and subsequently resolved or vented over drinks with a friend and forgotten about.

I’m not referring to true internet trolls, they are a species I don’t even want to understand. It is everyday people who for reasons that just baffle me, find sport in nasty comments on blogs, personal attacks in response to a post someone might have written that they don’t agree with, vicious naming and shaming and generally being offensive just because they can. It also often seems too tempting for others to jump gleefully on the bandwagon of abuse instead of suggesting the offender might like to take a step back and reconsider the venom in their words and the unseen damage they could cause.

It makes me wonder if these people would not be outraged if their child was a victim of the very bullying in the playground that they see fit to dish out online, or if they were attacked by a gang on the street who didn’t like their opinion or their haircut. I feel sure they wouldn’t be quite so ok with that. No one is ok with hurt inflicted on them or those they love but still believe it ok to heap abuse on strangers whose lives they know nothing about.

I wonder sometimes where we are headed as a society so out of touch with each other, so quick to judge and injure, so reactive and defensive.  I feel grateful that I have so far found communities both in my ‘real’ life and my online world, that are filled with kind, generous and supportive souls. I know others are not so lucky. I want to gently suggest to all those going in guns blazing to slow down, stop the flow of poison from their fingertips, step away from the computer, rethink and remember that perhaps it really is better to say nothing if you cannot find something nice to say. While you may feel powerful and unaccountable in your anonymity, karma has a funny old way of making sure you get what you give.  Wouldn’t you prefer something beautiful coming your way?

I have personally never once had a happy result from dealing with someone in a rude or aggressive way. Even if I got what I thought I wanted, even if I felt a momentary triumph from standing up for myself or retaliating against someone being unreasonable, the sense of satisfaction has always been short lived, replaced by the disquiet that comes from acting out against my better judgement.  Ultimately nothing good has come from responding in anger.  I am not suggesting we let the world walk all over us, only that we stand our ground firmly and gently without threatening someone else’s position on theirs. Agreeing to disagree opens up a world of fascinating possibility when we seek to understand and learn from other people’s point of view, even if we ultimately don’t share it.

I want to share with my children the incredible world that technology has opened up for us and the extraordinary ability to connect with other people all over the world simply by opening up our laptops. It’s amazing. But the dark side of it is dangerous and I am equally determined  to do my best to protect my children, or rather teach them to protect themselves, from the ugly parts of our society, both in the real and cyber worlds. I think the best we can do is teach them to think, and then think again before they act, to be a little street smart without removing their sense of wonder, to help them discover their own self sense of their enormous worth, an unwavering belief in themselves that will withstand the battering of a million other opinions.

It is perhaps the best we can hope for. That our children are safe, that they understand that good people with peace in their hearts don’t bully others. That it is never ok, online or in the playground, the workplace and sports field, anywhere. That it says so much more about the person doing the bullying than it ever does about them. That they choose to be kind, and when others make a different choice, that they can rise above it…


  1. Nicely put Tuesday.x

  2. Dianne Hantas says:

    What a wise and lovely soul you are sweetheart. xxxx