Kindness: MAWMonday Motivators 06/25/2018

Kindness: MAWMonday Motivators 06/25/2018

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Acts of KindnessSeveral things are missing from our civil experience today. Perhaps none is as lacking and as dire as kindness. Even when defending the defenseless, calling out oppression, or identifying discrimination, we seem insistent on calling names and dehumanizing. The danger is that we normalize the process of removing humanity from our opponent. We become consonant and accepting of that ego defense considering the other as less than and inferior. This supremacy is the origin of evil. In the face of people who call for the genocide of others, who murder with impunity, who exercise privilege with hope of your harm, it is difficult. But, those who disagree with you are still people. It seems near impossible to refute, refuse, and reject their flaws in character, rhetoric, morals, and ethics without adding a question of their fitness for the human race. But, those who hold and express cruelty are human. As angry as it makes you to witness the other’s insistence on demonizing you for simply living, sin not. Kindness is the difference between us and them that we must maintain at all costs.

1. Defining Kindness

Kindness is not foregoing the argument, being polite, or passing by the opportunity to root out prejudice and wrong. And, realize that kindness is most important in these situations when force, cruelty, and violence has the cover that “they started it.” Physical altercations are tough calls. I advocate for self-defense without hesitation. But, that’s not where most of us make our home. Most often, we watch from a distance or engage on social media. We are faced with a choice to define a person by their disability or choices. To redefine them as an animal or insect less deserving of our empathy and compassion. To judge that their position of opposition denies them their humanity. BUT, another option exists. We can argue against their position, speak of the consequences of their train of thought, discredit their logic point by point, and still admonish their personhood.

2. Accept Nothing Less

The difference is critical. Refusing to return evil for evil, indifference for apathy, entertainment for emergency is a hallmark of civil society. We are losing it in droves, but civil society remains a coveted ideal. The complexity is lost. Subtlety is passe. The expectation these days is that it must be hyperbole if it will be understood. And yet, truth, humanity, and civility must not perish. Compassion, empathy, consideration must remain. If we live without kindness, what were we speaking out against? What rights and ethics were we advocating to regain?

3. Open Your Heart

I believe the basic challenge is to risk being hurt. At every level of human interaction, the danger is that you may be mistreated, disrespected, or demonized even as you work to support, respect, and enliven others. But, what’s the alternative? Are you going to stop the good that you can do because you experience wrong and a lack of gratitude? The immediate answer is “Yes! Forget them!” But, that message is for the mistreaters. Your message for others–the definition of self, the calling on your life–is not for those who refuse your message. It is what you do because of who you are. It is first a decision to live your best life.

4. What Money Can’t Buy

I can tell you that doing the right thing does not help you sleep better at night. It’s like that feeling after missing a toll stop on the road in an unfamiliar city. You know you will have to deal with it at some point. Your many arguments about how you pay taxes and other brilliant and cogent arguments against additional fees only serve to exercise an already over-active mind. But, that’s my point. Going online and paying the fees don’t result in any fanfare. It does, however, result in peace of mind. That sense of having done what you can without unintended consequences and without regret. No apologies needed. No mixed or unclear presentations of your position. No dealing with words said in anger or mischaracterizations out of spite. Facts, rebuttals, clarifications, and offers of civility. Kindness is a right–a right thing to do.

5. Love & Light

You can respond to with vigor and vigilance to the wrongs and injustice in the world without resorting to virulence. Instead of poison that seems common place, you can bring peace. Instead of tearing down, you can offer constructive interactions. Instead of kicks, fists, and hoses, you can lift umbrellas, shelters, and showers. That’s what we need more of in our world today. Even as we resist with vigor. Even as we fact-check with vigilance. Even as we call, advocate, write, and protect, let us protect the kindness that distinguishes us from those who would spew poison and dehumanization. Powerful and consistent in our climb, but never stooping to low-level insults and idle “what-about-ist” complaints.