Sunday, June 4, 2017

Kindness--an Idea Worth Trying

 "Ideas have Consequences"

This hangs in my classroom, this phrase, on cardstock, laminated. Recently, the news in the world and in my own smaller personal sphere shows an awful lot of terrible ideas having consequences that people just don’t think about—or somehow rationalize away. Violence, injustice, selfishness as ideas create suffering, sorrow, and struggle. Aka the evening news.

Here’s a new idea: be kind.

I know. Kind can be hard. We have real issues with people. But the idea of kindness put into action creates brilliant consequences. Kind is brave. Kind is thoughtful. Kind is fruitful.

Kind understands the big picture of things—like maybe no deity wants people killed while enjoying an evening pint, maybe he wants dialogue and work to make the world better, instead of brief acts of horrific violence that scar families and communities forever. Yelling “this is for fill-in-deity-of-choice” (as related in the news) seems like somebody got the idea of what said deity actually wants terribly wrong.

Kind understands that ideas have long term impact – if we treat our planet like it is indestructible, when science tells us otherwise (in small words we should be able to understand), we may end up reaping environmental death while we try to sow economic growth. At what cost prosperity—if indeed any path that ignores Earth’s warning signs can lead to real prosperity? Kind knows that we need to protect the earth for each other, especially for those in the developing world for whom the proffered economic growth is only a distant rumor, and for whom the consequences of environmental disaster are much more immediate and unavoidable.

Kind understands that unjust wages and disrespect of workers (defined many ways) are never truly  “business decisions” Cutting wages or unjust downsizing impacts families, causes real hardship and pain, and does nothing to benefit the greater good.  Working together to solve problems (even “business” problems) fosters greater long term positive productivity and even more meaningful solidarity.

Kind sees every person as worthy of respect. Every person—not just those who agree with us. Every person. This one is hard. Super Hard. As she who references her imaginary book, “Morons and Their Friends” rather a lot recently—this one is hard for me. Sigh. Kind is hard.  I am grateful for all the people who show me what it is to be kind. I have so much to learn from all of you.
Kind understands that people are legitimately (or irrationally, in my case) afraid of many, many things, and it is easier to be brave when your fears are addressed with kindness, not dismissal. 

Kind isn’t warm and fluffy and snooglyboogly all the time. Kind often requires taking a deep breath and listening…and HEARING what other people have to say. Kind can require a hard word of truth sometimes. Perpetuating cognitive dissonance or untruth is a great unkindness.

Imagine if for one day, everyone tried to be kind.

I know, it’s a stretch, but try.

Imagine one day where CNN and FOX had no bad news to cover (although that might be a full day of angst about what is happening with the news?? We have a panel of experts to discuss…). Where BBC could JUST cover soccer (sorry, football!). Where the local news talked only about “human interest” stories, because everyone took an entire day to be interested in other humans and the benefit of humanity at large. Imagine what that would LOOK LIKE. What that would sound like. What that would taste like. Kindness is prolific and morphs and grows the more it is spread. Imagine that day!


That would be The Best Day Ever.             

A day of real kindness—the kind of kindness you see after a disaster, when people go above and beyond to help each other—or states and companies take initiative to protect the planet on their own—or people help workers network and find better jobs where they are respected after unjust “downsizing”—or people of different beliefs and traditions sit and eat a meal together and share their lives—or people reach out to the lonely and afraid and welcome them into conversation or even just smile at a person on the street.

What a day that would be.

I wish for one day, just one day, the world could give this idea a try.

I think the consequences would be amazing.