After I found out that my name and our blog ended up on the internet criticism site, I felt a little bit sensitive. I did a little googling to see if there were other negative mentions of me/us/our blog, and found just a couple, one of which I am certain was the same person that started the discussion about us on the internet criticism site. I wanted to go to every single comment that was made about us on the criticism site and elsewhere and be on the defensive, and then maybe leave a zinger to cut down those people. It all seemed so unfair and horrible, until I realized that it isn't really about me. If it were about me, those people would use the email address I provided and dialogue with me. They would get in touch and try to make a difference in the lives of my kids if they truly cared about them and felt they were in danger. But they didn't, at least not yet. I am still open to it.
I think it's easy to criticize others anonymously. It means that you don't have to see them as human or worthy of your true consideration. It means that you can make assumptions and believe the worst, and many times no one will argue with you. And the truth of the matter is that I started to see my critics that way, too, and to talk about them that way with others, and that's not fair to them. I don't know them either. I don't know why they decided to write what they did about me and what hurts they might have suffered that would elicit such a strong response to what I have written. I don't know their stories, where they come from, if they are bored or lonely or stressed out. Maybe they have seen too much injustice in the world and don't know where to start to try to fix it. Maybe they just feel helpless or unheard or many other things that human beings feel, that we try to soothe in whatever way we can find to do it.
Recently, Zinashi's godmother sent her two books that have helped me immensely. They're children's books, but the concept is so simple and true. The first one is called Have You Filled a Bucket Today? and the second is Will You Fill My Bucket? The premise is this: that we can either do things to fill each other's emotional buckets or we can do things to dip out of them. The kicker is that if you try to dip out of someone else's bucket, you end up dipping out of your own as well. And if you fill another's bucket? You end up filling your own, too. So when I think about whether I want to berate others who have berated me, I think, "Well, their buckets are probably pretty empty. I won't dip. I'll fill."
This is hard, I'll admit. They dipped from my bucket, and my inner sense of justice says I should dip right back! Not to mention the fact that I'm not sure how to fill those buckets at all. But here's the thing: I intend to try. Maybe it will happen by simply letting go of my judgment of them and looking through kinder eyes. Maybe it will happen by continuing to do my best to put good out into the world. Maybe it will happen by sharing this photo of Zinashi looking surprised, which cracks her up, and which she wanted me to share with you. Maybe none of that will be good enough. But I'll keep trying. I'll keep working. I'll keep filling. I will*.
*Except that sometimes I will mess up. I already have, lots of times. But the point is to keep trying. Always keep trying.