Why is it so hard? It should be so simple. The answer is this. Just be nice. This works for everything. The smile at a colleague, the have a good day, the can I help you? The lending a student some money, the bringing a toy in for the toy drive, the throwing the best birthday party for your kids, the surprise dinner party, the little thoughtful acts that make the world go round. It does not include the crabby guy on the phone who doesn’t give a damn, the people who cut off the old people’s heating in the dead cold of winter, the nasty immigration officers who make you feel like you are doing them a favour coming into their country, the lazy rip off artists who run a scam, the lawyers who watch the bottom line and miss the humanity, the guys with guns that storm hotels, the police that hit teenagers, the fanatics that bomb houses of prayer, the parents who never talk to their kids, the teachers who put down kids and ruin a dream, the kids who write on walls and ruin a life.
Last night I watched a Charlie Brown Christmas. I had forgotten what a gem this cartoon was. First of all they feature the voices of real children rather than adults trying to sound like children. The writing cleverly reflects the real way that people speak, particularly children who are often painfully honest with each other. They have not yet installed the “filter” that enables them to edit out the brutally honest and often rude comments. It is a fact; if you want to know the truth about how you look in that dress, ask a child.
In the Charlie Brown Christmas the kids all are mean to Charlie Brown, berating him for never doing anything right. Of course they ultimately learn that it pays to be nice to one another. When his little tree becomes beautiful the children realize they were wrong yet there is no fast moral where Charlie “rubs it in.” They just begin to enjoy the true spirit of Christmas once they begin to sing together. Each character is charming in their own way because we can see ourselves in at least one of them. Each one is eminently human. They are not particularly kind to each other because they have not yet learnt how important it is. We have our filters. We should know better. We are grown ups and it is a simple as just being kind. When we watch Lucy taunting Charlie Brown we cringe and laugh because we know it is wrong.
Who are you?
Charlie Brown. Worried, intense, means well, acts on his instincts, hates materialism, wants a friend but refuses to compromise his beliefs or actions to please people. Thoughtful, confused, questioning and ultimately right. The lovable loser, symbol of hope and determination.
Lucy. Brilliant, intelligent, bossy, cross, loves to talk, loves money, thinks she is always right. She is a fighter, cuts to the chase, often mean but hard not to love.
Linus. In his own world. Needs comfort but is a great friend, highly knowledgeable, brilliantly clever, worried, creative, somewhat of a mess. Very loyal to Charlie Brown.
Snoopy. A great show off. The definition of cool. Spoilt, extravagant, in love, a good friend, eccentric and a performer.