Chain Mail Wisdom

Somebody sent me one of those tell the people in your life how much you love them chain emails today. I’m sure you know the ones, everybody gets them and they’re all pretty much the same. What would you do if one day you woke up and someone you care about was gone? Would you have any regrets? Anything you wish you would have said? Would that person know truly how you felt? Yeah, you know the ones.

The sentiment was nice, though I can’t help but think whenever I get one how much more it would have meant if the person sending it had taken a couple of minutes to actually sit down and write it on his or her own just for me, instead of blindly forwarding somebody else’s words to an addressbook full of people, words that have no doubt been around the net millions of times over the years. Maybe it’s just me, but when I know that these nice words I’m reading that were sent by somebody I care about are also at any given time being read by some fat guy in Iowa and everybody else this person knows, they tend to lose most, if not all of their meaning. It doesn’t take much longer to write your own email to tell me that you’re thinking of me, and I can’t speak for everybody, but I for one really appreciate the personal touch.

But that’s not even why I’m writing this.

Like most chain letters, this one had the standard set of instructions at the end. The ones that tell you to send it on to everyone you know so that they’ll all know exactly how you feel. But a line in this set really stood out to me. It said “pass this message on to everyone you know, including the person who sent it to you. IF you don’t, the sky won’t fall, but somebody in the world won’t be smiling.”

First of all, who worries about the sky falling? I know I don’t. And why should I be upset if only 1 person on the planet isn’t smiling? It seems to me that if we somehow managed to get the ranks of the non-smiling down to just 1 person, that would be a huge improvement compared to the way things are now. Think about it. There are somewhere around 6 billion people traveling around the sun with us. And when you stop and consider the kinds of situations that millions of them find themselves living in day after day, it’s pretty reasonable to assume that quite a few of them aren’t going to be smiling whether I send the email back to my friend or not. What would they care? I’m sure that if you were somehow able to ask those people what would make them smile, a hot meal or an end to the conflicts that threaten their very existence on a daily basis would rank far higher on the list than the fat guy in Iowa getting his chain letter back. So please, next time you think about hitting forward to pass on the nice letter, think about what it actually says, and think about how much more you could do to make the people around you smile.

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