Photo Caption: Winter Thaw - Finally, Hopefully!
My thoughts have been on kindness the past week. My college boy posts an inspirational weekly quote on Facebook and a recent one was a reminder to be kind to one another. When I saw this I was pretty blown away. Knowing a bit about human development, it is rather rare to have a 19-year-old displaying the level of emotional maturity as my son. Seems to me most college freshman are using Facebook as a social outlet period. For my son to try and use it beyond that to enlighten and do some good in the world makes me downright proud.
I think that most people would consider themselves kind individuals. I mean, who has the courage or self-insight to admit they are unkind? To be unkind isn't flattering and to be kind is one of those basic, take-it-for-granted characteristics we all want more of in our lives. But I really don't find that people are kind. Over the past years I have seen way more selfishness or self-serving behavior vs. kindness. Probably exhibited by people who in the next instant would rate themselves highly on the kindness scale!
I did some research because this subject is perplexing to me and found an explanation of sorts as to why many people aren't kind. As a society, our country does not value kindness and instead values materalism, success and so on more highly. Getting ahead, dog-eat dog, being competitive and winning are all actions in direct contrast to kindness - a more gentle, refined approach and one that sometimes involves not "winning" or being the best.
Everyday I see evidence of unkindness. One example, people passing me and giving me the finger because I'm not driving over the limit. Sometimes I read comments to a news item or event and am amazed at how most are self-rightous, ignorant and rude. For example, there was a news story about folks receivng government assistance and the resulting comments downgrading and insulting these citizens was appalling. Only a few comments were kindhearted, positive and encouraging to these people in need of help. Even on a subject as trivial as the t.v. show "The Bacheolor." This season is controversial with viewers despising the bacheolor and one of the female contestant's, Courtney. To read such negative and meanspirited comments from people who have never met these media-created celebrities is scary to me. How do people get off on attacking and criticizing others, including people they don't even know? When did this become acceptable? Is this how people feel better about themselves? By putting others down? Something is really off kilter here.
A few years ago, going through my divorce, which remains the most painful experience of my life, I made a conscious effort to be more kind. I saw life as a series of decisions or reactions all of which I have control over. So when responding, I'd make a conscious effort to choose a kind action. Sometimes I failed, even knowing I was being less than stellar. But I think by being conscious of my desire to be more kind, I ended up responding far more kindly than if I hadn't been making an effort to do so.
Although I haven't held that same level of kindness consciousness in recent months, it still is in the back of my mind. And I'd say that my son reminded me of the need to be more aware of this in my day-to-day life. I would say that most of us, even those of us making this a priority, can always be more kind in our interactions. We just need to make it more of a priority. Thinking back on this, I actually believe that one New Year's my sole resolution for that year was to simply "Be Kind." For those people who already feel they are kind enough, I say show me the kindness. What do you do, say and how do you act to promote kindness in this world?