Some people think those who are kind to a fault are weak, too mousey to ever do anything bold, fight back, or are fraidy cats…the list of labels is long. But when kindness is a choice–and it always is–there is nothing weak about it. It is a sign of strength, of maturity, a decision to embody the golden rule. The irony in choosing to be kind is that it can bring about world peace, that inside-joke of an answer to every beauty pageant question, and what world leaders, the media and pretty much everyone else discuss on almost a daily basis. We’ve tried stockpiling weapons, threatening each other with all kinds of mayhem, passing resolutions, sending troops, drawing lines in the sand, etc. Why not try kindness?
Kindness has its critics. Too many people read it as a default or no-choice-at-all position. Viewed in a pure light, it is not. It is a sign of strength, compassion, charity, and the ultimate choice for happiness. It is Christ-like. Want to make your world a better place–be kind. Don’t jump at the chance to answer back, seek vengeance, justify your actions based on what someone did or didn’t do, or make excuses for why you are getting your pound of flesh… There may be a momentary sense of satisfaction that you’ve “righted” a wrong, but you can’t make a wrong right by doing another wrong. Rationalizing behavior by laying claim to the formula of adding two negatives together, thus yielding a positive, is mathematical, not humane. Life is more interesting and complicated than that. When we are in a contentious, I’m-right-and-you’re-wrong mode, there is no room for understanding, empathy, compromise, tolerance or anything that can turn a negative into a positive. And, when we are in “fight” mode, it appears that the only other option is flight–that’s how the world presents it.
So what will it take to gain a kinder, gentler life? We need to lose something first.
P-R-I-D-E It “goeth before the fall” and pretty much every thing else that takes us to an unhappy place. This may seem like too simple an answer to such a complex issue, an if-only-it-were-this-easy choice, but it is the answer. It is an uncomplicated approach, but not one that is instantly or easily accomplished. It requires commitment and effort because pride is a tyrannical and jealous master. I’ve spent more years than I’d like to, thinking it was my right, my duty to prove I was right and someone else was wrong. “Table for party of one!” By watching my friends and family who were happy, I realized they had a “magic” formula–they were kind, forgave and moved on from every perceived or actual offense, spending no time establishing who was the aggrieved party, because it’s irrelevant in acts of kindness, where forgiveness is essential to the Plan of Happiness.
To borrow the lyrics from a children’s song from church, “I want to be kind to everyone, for that is right you see. So I say to myself, remember this, kindness begins with me.”