One of my favorite movies is Love Actually, a Christmasy type movie that is also a beautiful reflection on the post 9/11 world. The movie points out, via a Hugh Grant voice-over, that on 9/11, the last messages were of love. “I want you to know I love you so much.” Those were peoples’ last words. Those were the words people picked up their phones to say when time was running out for them.
Over the last couple of days, I have watched as the sudden and tragic death of Trey Pennington has begun to dissolve into nothing but another polarizing issue in the online world. Amongst all of the questions that his family and friends are asking, amongst all of the grief that his loved ones are experiencing and will experience, the online world is missing the last and most important lesson Trey left. His last tweet, which I’m sure many have seen, was not of anger or anguish or hate or discontent. His last words in this online world – his last tweet – was of love.
As people deride each other for various reasons this week, I can only feel like I’m watching people slam their heads into brick walls. This week, more than any other week, is a time for patience, understanding, gentleness, kindness, and love. And yet, over the course of 12 hours, 2 exchanges I’ve seen have involved the word “hate” and a condemnation that one person is a waste of life.
I know there are people out there who are trying to gain social capital because of Trey Penningtons death, and that is so disheartening. I know there are people out there who you just find disgusting. That’s human nature. But this week, right at this particular time, that’s not the lesson. The lesson is that the message you’re sending out could be your last one to that person. It could be your last, period. And what are you leaving? Petty retorts, the cause of which no one will know or remember? Messages about how much you hate a person? Messages about how some people are so insensitive they deserve to die? Really?
Where are your hearts, my friends? Where are your heads? What must happen before you realize that you are what you say, and you only get one shot to leave a legacy to be proud of?
Can we not recoil our venomous tongues for the next five days at least? Can we not reach out with hands instead of claws? Just for a few days? What you say matters. It carries weight. It flies away from you and lands you know not where. Make it a risk-free journey. Just for the next few days.
Image by Adrian van Leen. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/TALUDA