Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Haaaaaaaaaaave You Met Josh?

I'll go ahead and admit this as somebody who has watched How I Met Your Mother for as long as I have: I never really found Josh Radnor particularly attractive. And I don't mean that because I think he's ugly; on the contrary, there's something about him as a person that brings out the irrational dislike for some reason, even though I know that the humorless, pretentious character that he plays on TV is exactly that.

(Which reminds me: Ted Mosby, the character? Is so the kind of guy I would've checked out for five minutes on the first day of the semester before he opens his mouth and whomps the rest of the class over the head with his good-God-WTF-have-you-been-smoking insights on, say, globalization or post-modern irony. Yep, the same guy who ends up with you in small-group discussion a few minutes later, and mentions off-the-cuff that he and his really amazing long-term girlfriend spent the summer in India for humanitarian work, and just brought back the best recipe for veggie samosas. Yep, I went to college with that guy... why do you ask?)

That said, I was surprised to find out - from a HIMYM board on Television Without Pity - that the same Josh Radnor wrote an op-ed article for the Los Angeles Times.

It really shocks me when I encounter people who think kindness doesn't
matter. Because I think it's pretty much the only thing that matters. This
should not be mistaken as a call for humorlessness or some naive, fussy
moralizing on my part. It's not about being "good" (a loaded concept, to say the
least) or "nice," which is really just a social convention that often has to do
with worrying about being liked (occasionally masking real deviousness). It's
ultimately about compassion, recognizing that all of us are going through it all
in our own particular way, no matter our social status.

It's not our job to play judge and jury, to determine who is worthy of our kindness and who is not. We just need to be kind, unconditionally and without ulterior motive, even—or rather, especially—when we'd prefer not to be. For me, it's simple and not entirely unselfish: When I'm kind, I feel good; when I'm not, I feel horrible. (Of course, the publication of this piece now ensures I will be caught on tape
being a total schmuck.)

Of course, this is the kind of Midwestern-bred optimism (and the boy did grow up in Columbus, after all) that would get a certain type of celebrity immediately tagged as a hypocritical Pollyanna by the scandal-mongers who populate the comment sections of Perez Hilton. As a former op-ed writer, however, I do think that putting yourself out there with an essay like this - whether you're the lead actor of a successful sitcom, or a housewife who merely dabbles in writing - takes a good measure of guts. Lord knows how many times I've been congratulated for something I've written, and how quickly I forget the compliments once I realize that my words are being dissected and misconstrued by people who have yet to have a conversation with me in real life.

That said: Apart from the being-from-Ohio/acting-in-my-favorite-sitcom thing, I know that I'm responding to Josh Radnor's opinions without knowing anything about, say, which way he's voting this November, or which day of the week does he choose to take off his schedule and consider as sacred - although he does hint at some of his beliefs in the article (to which I say, ahem). Yet, I will say that I do, indeed, agree with what he has to say here about kindness to others, and bravo to him for putting himself out on a limb and speaking out for such a neglected virtue in the first place.

1 comment:

The Scribe said...

this is an excellent piece, mei. :)