I was reviewing my Twitter feed and someone wrote, “Kindness matters.”
For some reason these two words made me stop in my tracks. It feels like there isn’t a whole lot of kindness around these days. Although I do see it on a a more personal one-on-one level more often than on community or society levels. Of course, the argument can be made that individual acts of kindness lead to the whole of a community or society embracing kindness.
I can understand that argument and I tend to disagree with it these days.
What I observe is kindness to those who are like us and we judge as deserving of it or, if the person is not like us, we can somehow feel good about our kind acts which may lead to deeper inroads of kindness remaining close to home. As an example, if you give a meal to a homeless man on the street, this would be regarded as a kind act that you decided to do. Yes, it is kind. Yes, you should feel good about helping someone. No, it does not mean that kindness is now spreading throughout the community.
Enough of these acts and it is supposed to roll on up into a big tidal wave of human kindness. What I observe are many acts like these happening on the personal level and the toil and trouble and unkindness on the larger levels. As an example, I happened to post something politically on social media that lead to an uproar of meanness and hatred. So quick, so fast. Name calling started happening instead of a curious posture. Fire erupted that was the exact opposite of choosing to be kind to another whom you don’t know but appears different to you.
Things are automatic these days, including our acts of kindness. Of course, most of us have no problem extending kindness to our friends and family and people we feel are on “our side.” Also, when we get to determine who to be kind to, kindness abounds. However, the exact opposite is true as well. If our beliefs and/or ideas are challenged, stretched, or otherwise foreign to who we are, automatic meanness seems to pop up as the go to solution.
Kindness matters whether we have agency over the decision of who we are being kind to or not. If we could all take a kind, curious posture no matter what we are meeting in any given day, I think kindness might have a chance at winning the day. Being kind on one level and the exact opposite on another is a mean split that is tearing up society — faster than I can keep up with these days.