I haven't been volunteering, which puts a hamper in keeping things in line with the focus of this blog's theme.
On top of that, though I am passionate about many things, I haven't been fired up enough about a subject enough in recent times to motivate my remembering I have this medium through which I can pour my thoughts and feelings out and vent on the interwebs.
A lot has happened since I last wrote. I've encountered many issues, and learned a great deal of things. But it wasn't until today that I may have reached my tipping point; today I got fired up.
Meet Timothy Birmingham.
I'm not going to lie to you and say I'm an avid follower of his channel on YouTube. Now that I've been introduced to his sincere and uneventful vlog, there is an endearing quality in the straightforwardness of his videos.
Birmingham is not what you'd expect of a typical You Tuber. He's only been active since 2011, has a little over 4,000 subscribers to his channel, and a total of about 300,000 views total. He's no You Tube celebrity by any measure. He's just a normal human being.
I haven't seen all of his videos. I only saw one.
I only saw this one:
It's the only one I needed to see.
I don't know who the Annie Johnson he created his video message for was, but I hope she did see it, and I hope she is ashamed.
Anyone who knows me, knows I can be empathetic to a fault (when I'm not being a selfish human being), and couldn't help but see this man speaking and hear my father's words.
My father was disabled, and he didn't let that stop him. He tried. Unfortunately, to echo Timothy's words, the jobs he was allowed to do just weren't out there. I heard my father called a lazy freeloader once. It's sad how the person that said that didn't actually know him. My father put in his time in the workforce to qualify for whatever benefits were available to him through social programs, because he qualified for them, much like Timothy. No one deserves to be disrespected, demeaned, or scorned because they did not follow the path that someone else feels is conventional or correct. No one deserves to be ridiculed because they take advantage of things they are rightfully entitled to.
That's what Annie did. She saw a man who had posted over 200 videos on You Tube about everything and anything his heart desired. From sharing food he ate, to general discussions about the day, to giving us a glimpse into his personal life and allowing us the opportunity of seeing him surrounded by his loved ones. She saw someone with time on his hands, something she possibly was jealous of, and assumed he was a government program freeloader. Here's a guy who can post hundreds of videos and stay home. How does he pay for all that food he records, or the electronic equipment he records on, or the computer he uses to upload and view his You Tube data on?
He pays for it, with funds he receives through programs he qualified for. He worked and paid into a system that allowed him the ability to exercise protections in place that now serve the purpose they were incepted for.
This genuine man did not deserve the callous and thoughtless words flung at him by someone who judged him on a single video. And though it may seem hypocritical that I am judging Timothy on this one video alone, and doing the same for Annie and her single comment, it's fair to say no one deserves to be called out the way Timothy was. Let him spread the joy, make friends, and post his videos. He isn't hurting anyone, and he's doing something that makes him happy.
I'm sorry Annie saw his crockpot video and lost it, and found no other way to vent her anger and disdain for Timothy's life choices but to leave negative comments that clearly hurt his feelings.
When will we stop hiding behind the mask of social media and continue being emboldened by the false sense of bravery we find in this digital presence, and spew venomous judgements on anyone and everyone simply because they don't reach our standards?
It's easy to miss the point when we lack empathy.
It's easy to be disconnected when we don't let our guard down and put ourselves out there. The only way to stay human is to continue surrounding ourselves with humans. That's what I love about volunteering. It forces you to look beyond your comfort zone, and see how others with varying circumstances live differently. Helping others shows you just how good you may have it.
I'm not perfect by any means, nor will I ever be. But I'm thankful for the impact my father made on me and how I was brought up. I may have lost my way here and there as I grew up, but I'll never forget the importance of a smile, and the powerful impact a kind gesture can have on someone's day or life.
Whether it's a handshake, a smile, a warm embrace, a passing gesture, or a comment on some form of social media interaction, do it kindly, empathetically, and remember that every single person is living and experiencing this life in a different way, under different circumstances, and from varying perspectives. So be kind, because as the saying goes, when it comes to this life, none of us are making it out alive.