Chris Dooley - Columnist

Sometimes the ideas for the things I write about come from weird places.  A couple of days ago, I was scrolling through facebook and I saw a meme that someone had shared.  It was a picture of a piece of sour patch kids candy and the caption to it was “You remind me of a sour patch kid.  Except you don't turn sweet, you just stay sour.” I can't lie, it made me laugh out loud.

    Because in life we all know people like that.  Every time that you see them, they just have this huge frown on their face like they're mad at the world.  You can try to talk to them, they hardly speak back to you. They just kind of snarl their nose up at you and go on about their business like you inconvenienced them by speaking.

    I never understood why people wanted to live that way.  Some people choose to be mean to people as a result of what they've been through, but it's still sad.  Now not speaking to someone in person is not the only sour trait one can have. There's other negative attributes you can have such as bitterness and jealousy.  If you have all of those things, then look out! You're going to be a miserable person.

    One of the most damaging weapons that a human being has is their tongue.  People don't realize the power that this small body part has on people's lives.  With our tongue, we can choose to speak life or death over people.

    If you need proof of that, look around you.  How mean and heartless has our society become?  People don't care to hurt others feelings anymore.  Warm smiles have been replaced with bitter scowls. Friendships have been replaced with backbiting.  Prayer has been replaced with gossip. Not many people care about people out there who are hurting, as long as it doesn't involve them or their family.  

    Honestly, it's aa bad way to live.  I've always tried my best to have compassion and a sincerity for my fellow men and women.  You see, I used to be that person I mentioned earlier with the frown on my face and hardly a good thing to say about anyone.  But somewhere over the years, I've also grown emotionally.

    I remember asking myself back in those days when I was bitter just why I was like that?  Sure, I'd been burnt by people and done wrong. But to take it out on everyone I come into contact with?  It seemed a little short sighted on my part.

    I remember asking God one night when I was praying, to give me eyes of compassion and a heart that cares about people and what they're going through.  There's a world of people out there who are suffering and dealing with every kind of issue you can think of. It was after this night, something happened and it all clicked inside of me.

    I was watching the Christian movie “To Save a Life” which is an excellent movie to watch for kids or adults.  It's sort of loosely based on bullying in schools. But there was this kid in the movie who took his own life at school in front of his classmates.  He was depressed and had other issues going on that led to his demise. But the main character in the film has a change of heart after his former friend's death and there's a quote in the movie that stuck with me long after the credits rolled.

    The main character is sitting by a poolside with his girlfriend and he's having a visible hard time dealing with the loss of his friend.  She tells him to quit beating himself up over it, because he didn't do anything. “That's the point, I didn't do anything.” He replied. That part tore me up big time.  He goes on to tell her that him and the boy who'd died used to be really good friends and that they'd grown apart over the years and they drifted apart.

    It made me wonder every day about all of the people I come into contact with and how I treat them.  You can see the outside of someone and they may act normal but on the inside there's turmoil in their soul.  You can't see the thoughts in their head or how close they are to going off the edge and hurting themselves too.  I thought about how bad it would be on me for someone to think of me as somebody they could come to that could offer them an encouraging word, but when they tried to approach me I just turned a cold shoulder to them and didn't care.  Maybe I was the last hope they had to hang on and fight another day and now after I've shunned them, maybe they let go. I couldn't live with hurting someone like that on my conscience.

    That's why I try to be good to everyone now.  That's why I smile and tell someone their shirt's pretty or I love their new haircut.  I've got a heart that burns bright for people. That's why I try to make people smile. That's why I answer all of those messages people send me, you never know what that person is dealing with.  That's why I hug people when they're hurting. That's why I don't act too good to talk to anyone. We all struggle with things, but we've got to be there for each other & not be sour. Being compassionate and loving, is a gift that goes far beyond what we can measure.  So next time you're frowning and having a bad day, put a smile on your face. If not for you, put on a smile for someone else. They may need it worse than you do!


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