THE LATEST THINKING
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Take Ellen's Gentle Advice This Holiday Season: Be Kind To One Another
It's not just Ellen Degeneres' tag-line, it's something she epitomizes. And kindness is contagious.
Recently, when asked to consider a celebrity I admired, I turned up my nose thinking, I don't admire celebrities. I admire people with greater contributions to the world than entertainment. Then I adjusted my tilted little nose and remembered the many celebrities who use their fame to further great causes. I immediately thought of Ellen Degeneres. Ellen's celebrity is being kind and generous. She happens to do this while making us laugh. What a holiday gift.
Being of a certain age, I was an adult when in 1994 Ellen had moved from stand-up comedy to her sitcom These Friends of Mine, later changed to Ellen. I laughed at each episode and was taken aback by the negative response to her use of the show in 1998 to come out of the closet.
For me, a comic actor was now a role model for individuals being true to themselves and not being willing to hide from the world. But what a price to pay. She was wiped off the face of TV and her gifts erased. She was blackballed, and we didn't see her for a few years.
I was very excited when, in 2003, The Ellen Degeneres talk show began. My then 12-year old daughter came home from school as I had it on the TV and, and I explained how great it was that this favorite comedian was back on TV. She was kind and funny in this new role.
In the past 14 years, Ellen has shared many gifts. I'm not talking about the "12 Days of Giveaways" on her TV show where the audience is showered with an abundance of the latest, greatest material goods. That is just stuff. I'm talking about gifts.
Daily, Ellen recognizes individuals who struggle financially or with illness, yet spend their time serving others. Ellen has helped countless individuals on a very personal level. She uses her celebrity to bring awareness to things including animal rescue, education disparity, and racial injustice as well as sexuality and gender. All of this is done with kindness and humor, using language appropriate for families with children watching daytime TV.
Ellen's greatest gift is how she makes us laugh. In my family, we value laughter over many things. I laugh with my sisters daily on the phone. Laughter is a coping skill when things are rough. When my sister was in her final weeks of deadly cancer, we watched Ellen, across the country from each other and we laughed on the phone. Ellen gave us just a few minutes each day to escape her worry of leaving her children and mine of losing my best friend. I'm thankful for that gift.
So a celebrity I admire does indeed make a huge contribution to the world. Ellen doesn't just end her show with the words "be kind to one another," she IS kind. And kindness is contagious.