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BWW Feature: Betty Buckley Offers Facebook Page Eloquent Plea For Kindness

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BWW Feature: Betty Buckley Offers Facebook Page Eloquent Plea For Kindness

A little kindness goes a long way, especially these days, and especially on the internet. Many people have found it necessary to take regular "Facebreaks" to escape the onslaught of depressing world news, but more than that, to avoid mean-spirited vitriol and being bullied by a type of people social media has labeled trolls. There is no explaining why people feel the need to voice hurtful opinions, though many have thoughts on the matter; there is, however, a growing movement in which people make it a priority to use their social media to spread positivity.

AJ Hunsucker has been spreading joy to many show business professionals and patrons with the Facebook group Broadway By Broadway - a community group where people could share their love of Broadway theater and the people who create it. Since its inception, the page has acquired many enthusiastic members, so it must have been satisfying for him when some of those celebrated artists joined in on the fun, too. Unfortunately, Mr. Hunsucker's role as administrator of the group has, of late, turned to that of a policeman, requesting, urging, reminding members that the Facebook page was a place of celebration, not a dumping ground for every negative opinion they might want to voice, particularly at the risk of hurting the feelings of one of their fellow members. It got so bad that Hunsucker found himself spending more time deleting negative and mean-spirited comments than posting the rare videos he has of Broadway shows. Finally, Friday night, June 24th, AJ Hunsucker got a little help defending the positive energy mission statement of the Broadway By Broadway Facebook group, in the form of an open letter to all members from a legend of Broadway, film and television and the cabaret/concert stage, Miss Betty Buckley.

An Open Letter From Betty Buckley

"What AJ Hunsucker has created here is a wonderful page meant to celebrate the great legacy of our wonderful Broadway. As AJ has, repeatedly, stated this page is not a place for any of us to "share", unleash or state our "supposed" critiques of any performer or any play or show. It has become so commonplace on Social Media to spew unkind, mean and truly unimportant notions of one's everyday likes and dislikes. We think, after all, that we "have the right" to our feelings and opinions! And, well, we do, but the question really is, do we all need to know every petty thing each of us thinks, on any given day, about one another?

We have become numb to the consideration of the feelings of other Human Beings and the investments they have made in their work. We do not care, in so many cases, for the feelings of our neighbors. We see this "new normal" everywhere. It is so extremely unkind and absurd!

I would like to share that I, for one, don't really care to read, here anyway, ANY of our mean, dismissive or ill-considered statements or our dislikes about anything at all. What does it matter, truly, after all?

Yes, It IS important to call out real cruelty, contempt, and meanness in a "World Gone Mad". That's really important, but THAT has nothing to do with folks in the Theatre who have done their best to share their work to make people happy, to make people feel good.

It is not the highest calling for any of us to name, for all the rest of us, our petty dislikes. Who the f**k cares, really? All those kinds of posts do is to remind us about a capacity in ourselves for distaste. And, honestly, these days, we are feeling so much distaste every single day from the political arena, yes?

Two more things, on the chance that this has yet to occur to our minds and hearts--Human Beings do not compare, ever, on any level. One of the beauties about this Life is that every single person is uniquely himself or herself. There will only, ever, be ONE of each of us. Finally, the Performing Arts, despite all appearances and criticism, is not a Sports Competition. There is no "one" standard of performance by which we can even begin to compare one artist to another, or to compare one show to another. Everyone, everything in the Universe is unique and on this planet for us to enjoy. Every color under the Rainbow is here for us to play with, to paint with, if you will. It doesn't really matter which of these colors is our "favorite". Might we all choose to just enjoy the whole Rainbow? Might we choose to ENJOY the history of our Theatre as presented here, at least? It's just one page, after all. There are other pages where we can rant and rave and castigate and criticize, are there not?

I think it was the Dalai Lama who said to consider, as an editing criteria, when you're thinking about sharing your mind: "One: Is it true? Two: Is it necessary? Three: Is it kind?" If the answer to any of these is NO, then don't post it. Bigger still is the question "Will it cause pain?" And if the answer to that question is YES, then, for heaven's sakes, keep it to yourself. And maybe go back and delete your comment if you forgot this criteria even for a second and your "share" is truly unnecessary or could at all cause pain. That last thought is from me not the Dalai Lama.

Thank you for reading this. I apologize for being so long-winded. I'm just absolutely f**king fed up with meanness. I really, truly am. Forgive me. And many thanks again for all kindness. It means a lot, especially these days. With many prayers that we all make it through these most difficult of times with our health and minds and hearts in one piece. Much love to each one of you."

Betty Buckley's open letter to the Broadway By Broadway community garnered 1.2 K likes/loves/cares/wows and 366 comments of support. Many of the comments thanked the Tony Award recipient for her eloquence and for speaking out with the words that others were unable to find for themselves, while others were simple cries of appreciation and agreement. Betty Buckley had touched on something that almost everyone in that Facebook community had feelings about. When asked about this niche group he had created in March 2019, AJ Hunsucker offered that he created Broadway By Broadway as a place for performers, producers, directors, choreographers, enthusiasts, and fans to discuss Musical Theatre History and Broadway nostalgia and facts.

BWW Feature: Betty Buckley Offers Facebook Page Eloquent Plea For Kindness"There doesn't need to be just another general Broadway group online, because there are plenty of those. Usually, they're run by fans, but me being an actor in the business, and having first-hand experience and knowledge from working for 24 years, I thought of the idea to make it a group that involved people from the industry. To tell first-hand stories about different shows. I mean, we've got Lee Roy Reams that can tell a billion stories about APPLAUSE, SWEET CHARITY, and 42ND STREET. And we are able to remember the performers, designers, and creatives we lost in the AIDS crisis of the '80s, that wiped out so many wonderful people in the industry."

As an added bonus, it turns out that instructors of musical theater programs often turn to Broadway By Broadway for their teaching. Hunsucker's page is, indeed, accomplishing that for which he created it... except for the regrettable hiccup of vitriol.

Nobody knows the reason why an individual feels the need to strike out, to hurt, to tear down, but hopefully, with guidance and honesty, the people doing the hurting can mend their ways. People make mistakes. Sometimes they don't know they are being mean, they might think they are showing intellect, intelligence, about something for which they have passion - maybe they think they are being funny and someone will laugh at their snarky comment. Thanks to the poetic words of Ms. Buckley, urging us to enjoy all the colors of the rainbow, because of her plea for more humanity in our online dealings, perhaps people will take a moment to think before hitting the 'send' button, maybe they will choose a different verbiage, or there is a chance they will not only change their comment, that they might change their mind. By speaking up, by speaking out, Ms. Buckley and Mr. Hunsucker have effectively opened a dialogue and opened minds, not just in a Facebook group, but in show business and online communities that are, perhaps, going a little stir crazy, worrying a little more than usual and seeking guidance, some of which has, now, been provided.

It is always good to remember that when you are kind to others, you are being kind to yourself, too - it's a perfect circle of care.

Visit the BROADWAY BY BROADWAY Facebook page and feel the love HERE

Photos of Betty Buckley by John Boal were provided by Ms. Buckley.

BWW Feature: Betty Buckley Offers Facebook Page Eloquent Plea For Kindness

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From This Author Stephen Mosher