Be Kind, Not Right
Yup, it's going to be a rant.
An Act of Kindness
The year was 1998. I was home sick with the flu and channel surfing to find something to pass the time. I happened upon a television special by Wayne Dyer. It was an hour long show, but the only thing I remember was a phrase, "Be kind, not right." A few days later I was back to work, and I got a call from my 17-year-old daughter.
"Mom, I need to talk to you when you get home."
"Okay, we can do that."
I knew something big was up. My daughter used to call me when she got home from school. If anything upsetting were going on in her life, she'd fill my ears with the details of the latest drama.
Now she wasn't talking. As I drove home that afternoon, I contemplated the possibilities. Either she'd done something stupid and gotten herself into trouble. Or she was pregnant. Those were the only answers I could find. I took a deep breath and entered the house.
We sat down, and she proceeded to tell me she was pregnant. And, those words, "be kind, not right" echoed in my ears. I asked her what she wanted to do.
"I don't want to have an abortion."
"And, if I carry a child for nine months, I could never give it up."
"Okay, we'll work it out." And we did. Soon we had Kaleb in our lives, and she stepped up to the responsibility to care for her son. That kindness, Kaleb graduated high school this year.
Be kind, not right.
How often can those words be of use? We live in a world where everyone has an agenda. We've come to expect legislation to make the world "our" way. Unfortunately, there are a lot of us on the planet, and we can't each have it "our" way.
In today's culture the battles rage. Abortion or not, healthcare or not or what version, smoking in public or not, legal marijuana or not. What do we protect? Human rights, gay rights, animal rights, freedom of religion rights, black lives, blue lives - the list goes on. I'm sure we could spend all day listing the points we could argue.
But what if? What if instead of arguing those points we looked at each other and did the kind thing. What if we ignored the person smoking where it's illegal. What if instead of judging, we smiled and said hello to the person different from us (skin color, clothing, makeup, tattoos, nose rings, etc.)? How would our world change?
And, I mean you and I. How would our lives change? It takes a lot of energy to be angry and resentful. Letting go and being kind is simple. It's a decision. It's about putting our humanity ahead of our agenda.
Last night my husband and I seemed to cross paths in awkward ways. One snapped, and then the other snapped. Pretty soon you could feel the hurt feelings in the air. We couldn't get it right. I woke in the night, and those words came to me again - be kind, not right. I rolled over and wrapped my arms around my husband.
It's easy to get our feelings hurt or get in that self-righteous space and expect the other to make the change. But the only person we can control is ourselves and our reactions at the moment.
We can never legislate everything. The further along the line we get, the more we harm others. We step on someone else's right to make ours law. When do we stop and start figuring out how to co-exist together? Yes, there's change that needs to happen in our world. A good place to start - being kind to those people we disagree with. Having open, honest, respectful conversations. Working together for solutions.
Be kind, not right. Try it for a while. See how your life shifts.