Could you please stop?
It seems every week I read someone’s open letter to ‘the guy who body-shamed me’, or ‘the waitress who told off my child’, or ‘the person who dared to cut me off in traffic five years ago’.
I’m sick of it.
While I cannot deny some of you have had truly awful experiences that often leave me despondent about the state of the world, it is not courageous to write a letter (no matter how witty) after the fact. It is not courageous to post it on-line where it is almost certainly not seen by the perpetrator of said awfulness. It is not courageous to put your letter out into the ether where there is some chance of it going viral, so that millions of us can join in on denouncing the villainous rogue of your letter.
Courage is calling a person out on their bad behaviour to their face and dealing with the consequences.
I’m not very good at this myself, and will most likely be quaking in my boots at the time, but if you are on the receiving end of unacceptable behaviour – speak out. Tell them. Tell them off. Name it. Name that bigotry, or insult, or misbelief. It’s the only way you might get your villain to stop and think about what they’ve done or said. Not some letter which is really a ruse to get sympathy. Stop being so damn passive-aggressive.
This is what all of us should do, not just open-letter writers.
In my life I sometimes see or hear things being said and done that are not right. Things that are hurtful, mean, racist or bigoted. If I am truly to love my neighbour as myself, should I not speak up for whomever is on the receiving end of such meanness? To stand in solidarity with the ‘wounded’ person and to correct the perpetrator? I do not always have the courage I admit, but the older and more cantankerous I get, the more I do speak out and ruffle feathers.
If we don’t, there is no opportunity for learning and growth. For minds to reflect, change or expand.