Monday, 11 May 2015

The First Stone

Something that I read the other day stopped me in my tracks.  It may have been on Facebook or Stumbleupon and was presented in the form of one of those inspirational posters.  You know the type of thing. A meaningful quote superimposed over a sunset, a woodland scene or a beach scene like this one perhaps. Be blowed if I can find it. A dirty great Google search hasn't yielded anything.  So I'll have to paraphrase.  It said something along these lines.  Criticising others will never make you feel better about yourself.

Now I'm not perfect by any means.   Although I try not to be, I can be as stroppy, selfish and judgemental as the next Tom, Dick or Harry.  So those words spoke to me.

They came to mind again on the train over the weekend.  I had time to read Jon Ronson's latest book in its entirety.  It discusses the topic of shaming.  It considers the effects of public humiliation and the punishment that's meted out in all its various forms.  Here's three bits of that stuck out.

  • When people are humiliated they die inside. Think of the origin of the word 'mortification'.  Once dead they are capable of acts of inflicting terrible harm on themselves or others.
  • Be careful with what you divulge to a worldwide audience.  In a world where things can go viral online within hours hastily published words and images may come to haunt you.  My own way of checking is 'Would I want my mum to see this'.
  • There's an account of a meeting that Jon Ronson had with Clive Stafford-Smith,  He asked him three questions that we all might consider ourselves.
  1.  What's the worst thing that you've done to another person?
  2. What's the worst criminal act that's been committed against you?
  3. Which was the most damaging for the victim?   He went on to say that the criminal justice system exists to repair harm yet sometimes we do things within the law that are far more damaging, maybe at an emotional level,  than illegal acts.  
For once I am speechless.  There's nothing more to say today except to utter a plea inwardly and to the wider world for self control and kindness.


  1. I'm almost ashamed to say that in response to Jon Ronson's 3 questions, I drew a blank.

  2. An interesting and thought provoking post.

  3. Dan bought me tickets to see Jon Ronson for my birthday. Some of the discussion around shaming was very uncomfortable - you could feel it in the audience when the focus shifted from "these awfulother people" to " yeah, you could have done it on social media too".

  4. Good topic. We always think "It's those other people who do those things." Just like all of us have children who are bullied, but somehow NONE of us have children who are bullies!

  5. The phrase "if you have nothing good to say better to say nothing at all" springs to mind here. It can be difficult to moderate what issues forth from my trap sometimes and I am fallible as the next person. Good post.

  6. Today I was told, based on a handful of angry/ sad posts out of the 700+ that I've written in the last 4 years, that I have destructive issues and need therapy( amongst other things levelled at me). I exercised restraint in my reply, which was difficult but the best course of action. I really hope that the person responsible stopped to think of the effect her words may have on my husband and daughters. I don't particularly care what her opinion is, but they do.

    1. You're absolutely fine mate! What you said was only expressing the fears that a lot of people feel in the current political climate. Being appropriately angry or sad and sometimes expressing it doesn't mean that you need therapy but that you're expressing the normal range of emotions that an entirely well,sane person goes through. Some people don't realise that and attribute mental health problems to the normal range of expression that we should all be experiencing. It would be wrong to be perky all the time too. xxxxxx