Still with me?
Kids do it.
Jayhawks do it.
Republicans and Democrats do it.
They choose to be kind.
Each day people we like or may not appreciate at all choose kindness in the face of opposition
Kindness is a reasonable schtick to these people; it serves them for the long haul.
Want to be known for something? Let it include kindness:
Kind-hearted taxi driver
Friend who is frank and also purposefully kind
Beanwater Barista with a flair for kindness
Customer who chooses kindness over impatience
Person with whom ____ cannot agree and is kind
If a three-year-old kid with sand caked in every piece of clothing at the end of a beach day can be kind, we all have a shot at it. We’ve seen these little miracles work before.
It is too easy to allow all of the media and concern and malicious merriment poison our wells; that fresh place of inspiration and connection. Who doesn’t want to be perceived as hilarious? Or astute? Or right?
I say yay!
And…how about adding “+ kind” such as: hilarious + kind, astute + kind, and right + kind?
It hasn’t taken us long to meet taunt for taunt and scowl for scowl. Meme for meme.
And what has it gotten us?
No. We should not allow foolishness to rule the day…including our own foolishness.
Mean and nasty zingers may give us a momentary rush, but like the coastlines left untended to wind and weather, these waves of cutting cleverness erode us. We grow comfortable in the tit-for-tat exchange of insults. We don’t like the sting of bitterness lobbed our way yet we adapt and normalize it like sleeping through sirens when the city burns down.
When we destroy others and tear them down either directly or in collective castigation, the very best parts of us atrophy: our humanity.
Clever advances faster than kind; ask Attila the Hun. He and his pillaging pals may have been brilliant and swift, but I’d rather they don’t come around here. I’d never know when the knife would be at my own throat.
What would happen if we ceased answering hatefulness with the same? Would we have more energy, time, and insight to get to the business of dealing with the issues instead of merely responding to the cruelty in kind?
Be mad. Feel it. Then do something about it that does something.
We must look for answers, mentors, allies, points-of-view, and anything that may connect us positively rather than divide us with such negative hatefulness.
I have walked and protested in my life. Not recently, but I considered it.
I have been witty and cutting.
I have tried kindness in the face of crippling assaults upon my person and character.
We are more alike than we are different
the people we love
and the people we may despise
are not separated by as bright of line as we’d hoped.
So, DerringDo Friends, can we challenge ourselves and one another – without judgement – to reset our defaults to kindness? To state the hard truths and live passionately in a way that seeks to understand, build, connect, and grow?
Do I have a lot of love for racism, rapists, or wrecklessness? No. Not a whit.
But I do not need to choose hate either.
It is no small truth to go high when others go low.
Little-by-little, a diet of derision will wear down what makes you…you. Through those broken wounds come all sorts of sneaky snarky serpenty slimy things that make homes in our being. Kind of like those bats that moved into the Hobbit House and needed to be expelled before – like the latest one – they become a stinking pile melting into my “emergency party lights”.
All those bombs we hurl at the other side, usually inflict pain on innocent people caught in the crossfire. Families. Friends. Neighborhoods.
We lose respect and opportunities to make real lasting change.
You might be wondering what brought this on? Yep. I blew it. I let the clever cutting bits I’ve been ingesting in the news and social media poison my thinking and heart. Geez.
Kindness is not weak. Kindness is stronger than hate; hate lacks imagination. Kindness does not invite abuse, nor does it stand for it. Kindness refuses to meet abuse with more abuse.
It is scary to make a change. It is scarier to allow the bile to fester and destroy us from within.
I plan to build a wall; one of kindness around my heart and mind. Fewer funny memes about “the other guys” to read and less time digging for zippy replies. More time getting to know people I may not yet care about, new perspectives, and the transformative power of kindness.
DerringDo and Kindness, too.