Hi, my name is Elisa. I am 30 years old. And I’ve never had a soda.
Not a Coke, Pepsi, Diet anything, no Do the Dew, etc. I’ve had one very big vodka and sprite, but that doesn’t count. I’ve had a couple ginger ales when my belly has betrayed me (one of those being after the vodka/sprite), but that doesn’t count, either. My husband calls me un-American, which is absolutely not true, but one can see how he would think that. Since Coke basically runs in every American’s blood.
Yet, I am completely fine with this.
Let me tell you why.
I enjoy being myself. I enjoy making my own decisions. I do not like carbonation (a fact I was just reminded of when I tried drinking a carbonated juice and subsequently burped – yuck and ouch, said my nose). I also do not think a dark brown liquid that can burn off rust from a bumper sounds appealing.
Fast forward to another life decision: having children. I’m on the third floor now (30 years old), have been married for 8 years and 3 months, and have never once regretted not yet having children. Also my own decision. Though, when people hear how old I am, their questions invariably turn to the following: “Do you have kids yet?” “Why don’t you have kids yet?” “Are you guys going to have kids soon?” “Better get going; it might take awhile.” Thank you, stranger, for your kind presumptions and observations on my life.
One of my life goals is to teach – by example – that things aren’t always as they seem.
I can be American without drinking a Coke. I can also be American without identifying with Democrat or Republican. I can be conservative without being judgmental of those whose lifestyles are different than mine, and I can be healthy without being a tree-hugging hippy.
I can be 30 without kids, or I can be 30 with kids. I can adopt without choosing to birth my own child, and I can have friends who are vastly different from me because when I look in their eyes the connection is deeper than skin color, political affiliation, and religious views.
The articles I see and the blogs I come across and the Facebook posts fed through my newsfeed are just so incredibly judgmental. And I am tired of it. But it’s kind of hard to get away from because you can’t not see your FB feed.
I read a blog today about atheists and humanists in GA angry toward a statue with Bible verses on it being prominently displayed in their community. You know where I stand on Bible verses, but the point is: It will not help your cause to be mean and to belittle the other side. Kindness and decency matter right alongside your sense of being right. When you are coming up against something you believe to be wrong and destructive, or even just annoying, remember that the side you’re fighting against believes just as adamantly against whatever it is that you believe in. And angry ranting and irrational name-calling fixes nothing, adds nothing to the situation, and only heightens emotions to the point of hysteria. It divides more than it explains. Not every one of the other side is the grotesque stereotype you assume them to be. (Line adapted from Aaron Sorkin)
I do not mean to sound angry. I’m not angry. I’m sad, that the ones who are getting louder are the ones who are not letting others just make their own decisions. Before we criticize someone else’s life and their decisions, we should ask ourselves two questions: 1) Does it impact my life? and 2) Am I perfect? The last time I truly intervened was when I took keys from a friend who couldn’t drive home after one too many drinks. Because it puts my friend’s life in danger and I love this friend. I have heard many, many other things from many other people, and I have battled my own demons, and still this – driving drunk – is all I have lectured and intervened on. Because I make my own decisions and to a great extent, I leave others to make theirs. And my job is not to figure out if someone deserves something. My job is not to judge. My job is to lift the fallen, to restore the broken, and to heal the hurting. (adapted from a floating FB image)
I know I say this often, and I know this comes out kind of trite and maybe even a little simplistic. And I am not talking about the large-scale, weapon-filled, evil wars going on around the world. I’m not talking about politicians and their greed. I’m also not talking about the days when you’re so flipping mad you think your head is going to explode. I am talking about daily humanity toward your fellow man. I’m talking about the views we so tightly hold that are thrown in others’ faces as the black-and-white way of living. I’m talking about common decency. How we speak to one another. What we post on Facebook. What we write in our blogs. What we put into the world. We can be fighters without making the world a more hateful place.
Kindness matters. How we treat other people – in person, through our digital spaces – matters.