Thursday, July 16, 2015

Common Kindness

“Say and do something positive that will help the situation; it doesn’t take any brains to complain.” – Robert A. Cook

There is just so much. We are inundated all the time with the wretchedness of humanity: A man killed four marines in Tennessee. A man massacred over twenty people in a movie theater. People gathered in a parking lot to hear a politician speak were shot. A young girl and her friend were shot in the head for trying to get an education. The KKK is holding rallies in an effort to dumb down the next generation.

It goes on and on.

My heart grows heavy with it all. I am not one who reads a story and dismisses it. I linger over the details. I think about the families and how they may be coping with the “after” they have to live in. Having had my life divided in to numerous before’s and after’s, I can understand the shock and confusion that comes with it. How the ‘after’ always comes along so suddenly, BAM! Life is changed forever. Perhaps it’s because I can relate so well that I don’t just skim headlines and move along. I feel stories.

Being overly empathetic is difficult. I bring the weight of the world upon myself in this way. I pray for those whom I can, send out good vibes for others, but the unrelenting wave of humanity’s horrors is wearisome. Once I’m caught up in it, I find myself trapped. My mood begins to darken, and I get lower and lower.

I feel like May, in Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees, fated to feel the misery of the world, my heart perpetually breaking for the problems I can’t fix, my mind continually overwhelmed by just how awful one person can treat another.

But just as I’m at my darkest, when I’m trapped, just then my youngest will joyfully run through the house in her leotard and Batman cape.

She’s a reminder of all that is good in the world. All the positive, all the happiness, all the goodness that we so seldom see reported: the police officer who buys diapers and wipes for a woman instead of arresting her for shoplifting. The man who builds tiny houses for the homeless instead of reporting them for loitering. The dry cleaner who offers free service to those needing an outfit cleaned for a job interview. The boy who went to Target for a tie and got coached and prepped for a job interview.

These are great stories, but they are few and far between. We ask, “What is wrong with society?” If all the news/media show is darkness and negativity, is it a surprise that society is a negative place? When I pick up my eldest from school and she rants about how awful her day was, I let her go on and on. When she winds down, I always say, “I’m so sorry you had a rough day. Now tell me something good that happened today.” Balance. There should be positive with the negative.

If we want the world to be a certain way, we have to make it that way. How else will it get there? We want our children to know certain things, so we teach them. We want them to act a certain way, so we show them. If we all want the positive to dominate in society, we need to be proactive in making that happen. Random acts of kindness. Compliments. Respect. Help someone in need. They don’t have to be huge things. Something small to you can be something huge to someone who is struggling. One positive act from you can lead to the next person doing something kind for someone else. It becomes a society linked by positivity.

Far better to be linked by kindness than chained by hate.

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