“If I see any more of _________’s chest (Okay, I may have said boobs) I’ll scream. When did hooch become prime-time appropriate?” Is what came out of my mouth.

However, I swear, that in my mind- it sounded a lot more like: “Modesty is a virtue that we value, even when others don’t. Please turn the channel.”

I don’t want to admit that in my twitter feed, I posted something even more obnoxious, but funny. Because- you know- funny makes the mean,  acceptable, right?

Maybe not. Unless you’re Simon Cowell. Which, at least at last check, I’m not. Although I do like black t-shirts. (Admittedly, Simon may be a sweetheart in real life- but his TV personna is known for his curtness and trademark-snark- so for the rest of this piece, I’ll knowingly be playing hypocrite by using him as an example of humorous-mean-ness. Which could be bullying. But I don’t think he minds. Hey- at least I’m honest.)

Anyway- I thought I was making a humorous point…..But later- I heard my child (10) refer to someone else as “looking like a hooch.” I didn’t have to ASK where he’d learned it-  I know where: from me.  Which  itself, is a parenting fail of epic proportions. (Way to teach your child to disrespect others, Tracey. You Go! Not.)

This morning the news is buzzing about a news anchor who confronts a bullying emailer who commented on her weight in a mean, critical, Simon-like way. A couple of weeks ago I heard about a girl who lives in my state who’d been elected to homecoming court as a prank– and has been a constant target of bullying.I immediately “liked” her facebook page and if it was’t creeper-like I’d have totally taken that kid out to lunch, because-

My heart goes out to them both. (It helps that the news anchor probably wears the same size as I.) I keep thinking: “What’s wrong with people? Why are people so mean? This bullying thing has got to stop.”

Yup. The very same heart that sits in my comfy spot on the couch, calling women hooches and tweeting about their cleavage like a 10th grade bully. The same momma heart that taught her son it’s okay to call women hooches- by doing it. Ouch.

Even though that heart has been broken over my kids experiencing bullying. And I was teased in school for everything from leg- braces to coke bottle glasses….. (what we old people used to call bullying.) Yup. That same heart.

What if what’s wrong with people is- US?

What if the end to bullying starts with me?

What if we quit being Simon Cowell’s and started treating people with the respect they deserve as unique creations of God?

What if we turned the channel and stopped laughing at the expense of others? What if we stopped the snark? (Don’t get me wrong….Not all snark- sarcasm and satire can be hilarious- but not when it’s targeted at others. I give myself plenty to snark about, trust me.  Ouch. As I typed that- I realized I am also His unique creation………gonna have to think that through. Oy, This stuff goes deep- can you bully yourself?)

Anyway- what if we can end bullying without ever leaving home?

By setting a better example?

I don’t know—- but I’m willing to give it a try.

“Dear Lord- it’s so easy to get angry at others for doing publicly, what I do privately. Please forgive me for all the times I’ve bullied others- if only in the privacy of my home- or brain or in the public forum of the internet……and when talking with girlfriends… oh and all the other times and places I’ve been guilty. Help me to see and treat others- the way you would- with love and respect. Let the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart bring honor to you and set an example I’m not embarrassed for my children to follow. I love you lord- amen.”

It’s easy to point fingers at bullies- but it’s harder (and maybe more important) to confront the bullies in our mirrors.

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

What if we could paraphrase those verses like this: “When did I see you sing off key, ugly, awkward, poorly or inappropriately dressed or in Walmart dressed like a clown and be kind to you? And he replies” Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these, you also did for me.”

what if the trip from critic to bully is a short trip that begins at home?

What if we start living like it ends- even here?

Also— I did a quick search in the bible— There is no spiritual gift of criticism……even though I sometimes think I have one. Oopsy. Not so much.