The best part of watching the movie “Jerry Maguire” was knowing that the main character was going to get the right girl.
Jerry is a smooth, self-assured and worldly sports agent. After suffering a bitter pang of conscience, he writes a kind of memo/manifesto. (He kept correcting those who thought it a “memo;” he called it a “mission statement”).
It was about working less for the big money and more for higher-quality service to fewer clients who have significant needs. This memo leads to his dismissal from the agency. A secretary, Dorothy Boyd, was attracted to the integrity and true spirit she alone saw in him.
She risked financial security for herself and her cute, young son (not to mention dropping a decent health care plan) to work for Jerry’s solo agency (he retains but one of his many clients), and to be witness to what turned out to be a huge leap of faith. They found a way to “team up” to avoid the bitter and make it better.
What our society needs now is a “Jerry Maguire” intervention on social media, with special focus on what is known as Twitter.
I like poetry because it compresses much description and meaning in a small place. I therefore would welcome an automatic 140-character limit to condense my dense ideas even further.
The trouble is, like Jerry Maguire’s agency, things have gotten out of hand. Somebody needs to do a call-out on how a handy item, such as a personal computer or a phone, can become a weapon capable of causing pain and significant damage.
Years ago there was MySpace, the forerunner to Facebook, mostly used by early teens.
One day I saw my younger one on the verge of tears, thanks to some personal attack on MySpace, and “Zing!”, the convenience of condensing into a small place. By that I mean “small” in description of character, and “place” in description of a proximity to darkness and mean intent for, in this case, a victim.
The problem has expanded all the way to the White House, now home to an 11-year-old. I suggest that it is precisely there that we must roll out our opening lines to improve our civil discourse.
We could do so by borrowing wisdom from very reliable, instructive and respected literature. I have access to one such well-known source, and no doubt need only scant reference: It’s a really good book. I will paraphrase accordingly:
“Look. Get a grip of your old self. Put on a new self…..mostly in the way your creator meant you to be. Speak truthfully to your neighbor…control your anger such that the sun doesn’t go down with the anger still in you.
“Get to where you don’t let any unwholesome talk out of your mouth. Let out only that which is helpful for building others up according to their needs; that it may benefit those who listen.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to others…..forgiving others just as you have received forgiveness from……well, from Heaven.”
The highest use of this preamble to the main message would be to print it right there next to the “Send” key on phones and computers so that the person letting loose with the tweet has a chance to cool his or her jets before spewing out all the raw, absolutely unproductive stuff that the above “warning label” remedies.
This “top White House guy” we are targeting has the means to pull off something so amazing, terrific, beautiful and incredibly easy, believe me. We have to hit him up to do the decent thing: Take the high road with integrity and a true spirit.
An even better way to go about this would be for him to do a fully televised press conference in which he teaches this new Twitter procedure to his kid and the rest of us by saying it from his heart as well as from his mouth.
He could actually lead us to want “to team up to turn something bitter into better.”A good mission statement, you ask me.
Bill Brewster of Clovis is a retired teacher.