Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Plea For Kindness

I know it is always there, but this week I am seeing a need for kindness in the world. We know that we are all human; we all want to be understood and forgiven our weaknesses, but we don’t do it. Can’t we all just extend that understanding out to others just a little bit? Wouldn’t we all rather be treated that way?

I am speaking as much to myself as to anyone else, since it is difficult to remember to be compassionate and understanding with a teenager. This week everything from ugly national political stories to workplace cranks makes me wonder, what if we were all just a little more kind to each other? Is it so important to win that we must trash someone’s good name? People need to be seen as so put together and blameless so that they vilify another for a small human mistake. When my colleague makes a mistake, he or she is probably not a moron as some would attest; she is most likely a human being who made an error. If I can help her fix it, maybe she will understand the next time I make a mistake. Because I’m human I will make a mistake again.

You know what; this even applies to Sarah Palin. I don’t like Sarah Palin. I don’t like what she says about others and I am sick beyond all belief of hearing about everything she and her family does and says. But if I spend all of my time mocking every grammatically-challenged thing that comes out of her mouth then I am just being negative and not hurting her at all. Her supporters don’t even care. Look at me, I’m clever and snarky; I don’t mangle the English language. So what? How have I improved my life by watching and criticizing her every move? It doesn’t help create any positive changes; it just makes me feel superior. I still reserve the right to criticize and disagree with her political actions and speech, but let’s leave her parenting and hair out of it. Deep breath. Even Sarah Palin deserves respect and compassion. (Realistically, someone may have to remind me I said that in the future.)

I didn’t even know I was going to write about She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

The Dalai Lama famously said, “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” I need to remind myself of that more often. Couldn’t we all be happier and more at ease if we could look past our initial frustration and see each other as flawed and human people, instead of obstacles in our personal paths to happiness? As a person with a long and loving relationship with snark, I’m changing. Just watching people treat each other callously disturbs me and stresses me out. I wish I could stop people from being awful to each other, but as a proper child of psychology, I know I can only change my own actions. So my mantra this week is Kindness, everyone else is human, too.


  1. I've come to recognize in myself that snark is often a substitute for the more difficult work of thinking. It's easier to say, "Can you believe she can't speak in sentences?" for example, than to engage in sustained, reasoned critique of that person's policies.

  2. You've got me thinking about snark as a hiding place or a defense mechanism. Being snarky is super fun, but it cuts you off from honest and safe communication with others.

    The smart kid can use it as a defense against the popular kids. You don't ever have to question whether or not you are better than the other person.

    This might turn into another post.