I was chatting with my friend Lacey the other day about a little project she is working on and it has been spinning around in my brain ever since and I can’t help but want to write about it. Actually, I wouldn’t say she is starting a project so much as a kindness awareness campaign or movement-one that, when it catches on, has the potential to change the way people think and act with only three little words that are catchy and easy to remember.
Lacey said she was just tired of derby players being mean to each other, so she’d decided to try to do something about it. I commend her efforts because, let’s face it, it is 100% true. No matter how many nice people there are in the derbs, there are also derby peeps who are just plain mean. They go out of their way to knock others down with words and actions. They spread angst and create contention. They spark the fire of unkindness in others and then fuel it with their own insecurity and need to get back at people for perceived wrongs.
And it sucks. It sucks ass crackers.
I’ve been both the victim of this kind of thing and the perpetuator. Sometimes when people hurt your feelings, you lash out and try to hurt back. As the saying goes, “Hurt people hurt people”. It’s human nature and it takes a shitload of self-control to force that retaliatory reaction back down where it belongs and react with love. Love is the new weapon of the future. I’m proud to say that derby has been training me really well in how to react with love and kindness instead of giving in to the evil asshole on my shoulder. When I hear her whisper, “are you going to let that bitch get away with being such a douche?” I just simply say, “Shut up!”. The problem is that not everyone is self-aware and not everyone realizes that they are giving in to that little asshole on their shoulder. A lot of the time, people think it’s perfectly acceptable to fight fire with fire, but in truth, nothing good ever comes from fanning the flames of hatred and discontent. Both sides just end up more hurt and stupid shit happens like epic miscommunication and misunderstandings-often so harsh that it ends friendships, splits teams, creates more enemies, and ruins a person’s love of the sport and the game.
One of the hardest aspects of our human experience is learning to accept that others are going to say shitty stuff about us and we absolutely do not have to defend ourselves. I’ve said it a million times, but just to recap, people see what they want to see and they interpret it how they want to interpret it. We have to learn to control our own reaction to them.
However, there’s something else we can do that is equally as effective-control our behaviour toward others. The saying goes, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” For the last couple of years, I have changed the wording of this in my head to, “If you can’t say something nicely, don’t say anything at all.” I accept that I am not going to love everyone who is involved in my league or who plays on my team, but I can sure as shit be kind to them and treat them with respect instead of attacking them because I don’t agree with who they are or what they do? I’m sure if you take a look at every single person you know, there will be things about them that bother you, get under your skin, drive you crazy, etc., but there will also be things about them that you like or admire or even feel grateful for. Focus on the good stuff and refuse to acknowledge their bullshit and, chances are, they will stop trying to throw it at you.
You don’t have to be a spiritual guru to figure out that kindness begets kindness. Even when you are dealing with conflict and angst, you can still make the decision to do it nicely. Use non-threatening words. Leave out name calling. Stay calm. And, as Lacey says, be Classy Not Sassy.
If you’d like to be part of this kick ass movement and pick up some stickers – for your helmet or water bottle…or forehead- you can find some at The Northwest Derby Summit this weekend in Tacoma, WA on her Getsome Athletics table! If you are far away or if she runs out (which she probably will because these are awesome), you can email her at email@example.com and she’ll send you some!
Be a part of the movement: