How to avoid making fun of others

The strongest point to remember is that nothing is gained from making fun of another person. As you are tempted to speak unkindly of someone bringing to surface their differences, you should do the following:

Remember that criticizing another only belittles the character of the one "making fun." If you choose to find fault, you are the one who loses.- Remember that words are harmful. Making fun of someone usually damages beyond what one may see as a few fleeting words.

Remember that this was a principle so important to Christ that He gave us specific instruction regarding "making fun" or judging others. Matt. 7:2 reads: "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged."

Remember that differences are the ingredients that comprise an interesting world. As we choose to "make fun" of someone, we show both our ignorance of the world and our intolerance of those who have been created differently but just as divinely.

Remember to look for the good. As I find myself having trouble with the principle of unconditional love, I have made it a point to immediately look for the good in someone the first few seconds that I see them. If it is someone I know, I think of an inner quality such as honesty, humor, hard work. If it is someone whom I have never met, I consciously notice a simple physical beauty - a winning smile, strong or delicate hands, good posture. If you see the good immediately, "making fun" of someone seems to lose its place of importance and you both win. - Ruth Reneer, Provo, Utah


How to checklist:

1 Ask God to soften your heart; realize all are His children.

2 Treat others as you would want them to treat you.

3 Look for good in others; be respectful of diversity.

4 Like yourself; thus, you won't want to make fun of others.


Oct. 29 "How to help a loved one with a disability reach his or her potential."

Nov. 5 "How to cope with the heartache of miscarriage."

Nov. 12 "How to engender understanding of differing religious beliefs among family members and loved ones."

Nov. 19 "How to minimize holiday stress."

Nov. 26 "How to help someone trying to come back into Church activity."

Dec. 3 "How to help your children develop self-reliance.

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, or send fax to (801) 237-2121. Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

How we did it:

Like yourself

I have always believed, and will continue to believe, that you should treat others in the same manner in which you wish to be treated.

People who make fun of others are usually insecure about themselves, and in order to make themselves "look good" to others around them, they belittle those who are less fortunate. Therefore, make an effort to like yourself for who you are, and be comfortable with your own image, and you will not feel the need to be disrespectful to others.

Above all, pray to God and ask His guidance whenever you feel the urge to deliberately hurt someone else. -Karen Emerson, Bridgeport, Conn.

Laughing stopped

There was a couple in my ward who were overweight, wore mismatched clothes and sang off-key. They didn't speak, making them easy targets for ridicule.

One day this couple was brutally murdered, and the laughing stopped. At the funeral, the members who laughed at them in life learned a powerful lesson in their death.

The couple didn't have money for nice clothes; it was saved for years for an overseas trip to gather family history research. They didn't speak because they weren't spoken to. And, as to their singing, they were simply heeding the counsel to make a joyful noise unto the Lord.

I can't change the way I treated these people and they will never hear my apology, but I can prevent myself from the anguish that comes with making fun of others. Please consider the feelings of others and your feelings if unkind remarks were directed at you.

-Name withheld

Sincere respect

The old adage of "walking in another's moccasins" can help teach kindness to others and can be taught early in life. Children are not the only ones who need this lesson; often adults are guilty of insensitive behavior.

We can show respect by taking opportunities to treat everyone kindly regardless of physical, mental, economic or cultural differences. It is very important to know the difference between condescending behavior and sincere respect for another. Being kind but still seeing them as inferior is not the behavior the Lord expects from us. -Joan Renn, Waycross, Ga.

'Unring' a bell

One of the first steps toward developing charity is in speaking well of others. Making fun of others is an unkind act, and the Spirit withdraws as this is an offense toward one of Heavenly Father's children. While our intent may be only to "have a little fun," we can unintentionally hurt another's feelings. If this offense comes to them at a particularly vulnerable moment, the long-term effects may be substantial if they withdraw from our fellowship or worse, from Church association.

One danger in making fun of others comes when we say something we really didn't mean to. Trying to undo a slip such as that is like trying to "unring" a bell, and embarrassed apologies can do little to recover the words.

-Neil P. Reid, San Ramon, Calif.

Takes Courage

When I was 12 and 13 years old, I was teased mercilessly in school. I became very withdrawn and shy for many years as a result of this ordeal. Since I know the harm that making fun of someone can do firsthand, I have always encouraged my children to be kind to others- especially those who are victims of this kind of abuse. I have also told them about my own experiences so that they will understand how painful being teased and made fun of really is. It takes courage not to participate in sessions designed to hurt someone who is different in some way. It takes even more courage to change the subject entirely.

-Teresa Fair Cambria, Birdsboro, Pa.

Key to change

-Treat others as you would want to be treated.

-Accept others' differences.

-Try to be a friend to those in need of friendship. -Focus on the positive features of others, rather than the negative.

-Make up your own mind about people; don't be influenced by others' negative comments.

This all sounds good, but what we really feel is the key to changing our behavior is that, through prayer, we ask the Lord for help in softening our hearts toward those we might be tempted to make fun of. -Early morning seminary class, Kingman Arizona Stake

'Grace of God'

My dear mother taught her seven children at a very early age to never makie fun of anyone. She taught us to always put ourselves in the shoes of others. We were taught that how people dressed wasn't nearly as important as what kind of person they were. I've heard her say over and over "There but for the grace of God, go I."

Children follow the example we set. They must be taught at home, at a very early age- "There, but for the grace of God, go I." -Hazel Pike, Asheville, N.C.

As Christ Would

When we make fun of others, we are making fun of someone that our Heavenly Father loves, someone He created, someone He has put on this earth for a purpose. When we remember that it is because of Him that we are all here, we find that put-downs and jokes don't seem very appropriate anymore.

-Sheri Martinez, Yakima, Wash.

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