Being Kind

“I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.” ~Booker T. Washington, American educator, author, and Presidential advisor

I’ve noticed something of late that disturbs me greatly.

So much so that I’ve got to write about it.

It’s a pervasive meanness, a lack of civility, a raging anger, and hate that seems to cross all age, gender, race, and socioeconomic boundaries. It’s prevalent on social media, of course, as people seem to think anonymity there provides a cloak of protection (guess they don’t know, or don’t care, that stuff on the Internet never goes away — unless you’re trying to write a novel, in which case you’d better save and save often!)

I’ve noticed it on TV, sports, podcasts, comedy acts, neighborhoods, cities, and even homes. And you can’t miss the meanness if you follow the political scene, where those on the outside scramble to get in, and those on the inside grapple to stay there.

“Hating people is like burning down your own house to get rid of a rat.” ~Henry Emerson Fosdick, American pastor

I wonder if countries outside the U.S have fallen victim to hate like this, or have they managed to escape its grasp?

I wonder if this pandemic hasn’t succeeded in worsening the hate, perhaps because no longer can humans get close to one another, no more hugs and handshakes, no more High Fives — and unifying activities like dining out, movies, music, theater, and church have been interrupted.

Instead, we’re forced to view each other with suspicion and distaste — Has she got COVID? Does he have a cough? Even if we haven’t seen someone in months, we shrink back from touch and gauge the distance between us and them.

“The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less.” ~Eldridge Cleaver, American writer and political activist

There are more times than I can count where I turn off the noisy devices with their hollering, vindictive, angry voices. I’ve found myself unfollowing those who try to shove their angry opinions down my throat (perhaps they pride themselves on their sphere of influence, but real dialog comes only when minds and hearts are open to exchanging ideas.)

And really, haven’t they heard that it’s okay to disagree, but it’s not okay to be disagreeable?

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr., American minister and Civil Rights activist

My mother was of the generation that taught their children, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

It’s a good rule to follow, and it’s never gotten me in trouble.

Too bad we’ve chosen to toss it out the window in our efforts to be heard, to stand out from the crowd, to one-up each other in who can be the meanest.

Everybody is entitled to their opinion. But “one convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

Peace has to start somewhere. If each of us, upon arising, would remind ourselves to err on the side of kindness, maybe we’d make an impact.

Maybe some of the hate and meanness would go away.

What do you think?

“Hate is a fire that consumes the altar upon which it burns.” ~James Lendall Basford, American aphorist

19 thoughts on “Being Kind

  1. You surely know that I agree. I’ve made a conscious choice to avoid the intentionally nasty, the one who try to bait others, the name-callers, and so on. There are blogs I’ve followed for years that I now avoid, simply because they’ve made clear that anyone who disagrees with them in any degree is beyond contempt.

    It’s a little easier for me because I don’t watch any television at all: none of it. I have reduced the number of people I follow on Twitter to less than a dozen, and most are meteorologists. I stay away from Instagram, Facebook, and such. I read books, work, bake muffins and share them with my neighbors, and take my camera outdoors. It’s the choice I’ve made.

    I did read something yesterday from the Babylon Bee that cracked me up. If you don’t know the site, it’s both Christian and satirical; it’s always funny and often hilarious. A guy I follow retweeted this, and I laughed myself silly.

    • I’m not much of a TV watcher either; it’s my mom who’s addicted to the thing! There are times I have to run screaming out of the room, just to get away from the noise and contentiousness! Twitter has been progressively meaner of late, too, particularly after that last Presidential debate. Why people think that demeaning one candidate is going to convince the undecided to vote for the other candidate is beyond me! I stay far away from Facebook and Instagram, though “everybody” seems to think those platforms are important for a writer. As the Domer would say, “Hard pass!”

      Thanks for the chuckle in the Babylon Bee. I’d never read that before and found it most interesting.

  2. Debbie, everything you shared here is so spot on. And yes, I have noticed the increase in anger/hate, particularly over the past eight months. In my opinion (and I think you know this from posts that I’ve shared), much of it has to do with the political climate and how our media is using it as fuel to increase the fire. And quite frankly, I think it’s disgusting.

    For the past 2 1/2 months, I’ve disassociated myself from the news; only tuning in maybe once a week or every other week. And I only watch one new anchor because he remains neutral and simply states the news. And I have to say, it’s made a huge difference in my own sense of peace and outlook.

    I’ve also made a habit of making eye contact with people I pass on the streets and saying hello, and waving; trying to spread kindness. As I shared in the past, the way I’ve chosen to deal with all this drama in our country at this time is to ignore what we are being “programed” to believe is the truth, and spreading what I know is the truth.

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings on this topic, my friend. Well done!

    Have a faaaaaaabulous Sunday! X

    • As a former journalist, it sickens me the depths my profession has sunk to. I know it’s all driven by money — blood and gore sells, nasty ads get people talking, and so forth. But ugh, wallowing in the mud with the swine does nothing to make me appreciate their so-called efforts at being fair and impartial.

      I like your idea of making eye contact with people. Even with masks on, we can still do that, right? And perhaps it’s more important at this time than ever before that we spread kindness and peace wherever we go. There’s enough misery as it is — those of us who can be “sunny” should do so.

      Enjoy the week ahead, my friend! xo

  3. I agree with every word of this post! I think the meanness is on the rise for so many reasons (technology, our political climate, and last but not least, Covid and its restrictions). But we don’t have to go along with it, and the only way things are ever going to get better is if enough of us decide to behave with kindness and civility, even (and especially) towards those who are different from us. Thank you for saying this so eloquently!

    • Bless you, Ann, for your lovely words — they made my day! Oh, yes, we all have the ability to be kind and sensitive to others. After all, everyone is struggling with something, whether we know what that is or not. And the least we can do is try not to push them over the edge!

  4. I think that’s why I like the book blogosphere so much – it’s about the only part of online life where people are consistently polite and pretty overwhelmingly supportive of each other. Twitter is toxic, even though I’ve developed a good school-marmish approach to telling people off for being rude… it allows me to get rid of some of my tension, and just occasionally they surprise me by apologising! 😉 I think it’s happening all over the west at the moment, although the US is taking it all to extremes. But I suspect there’s a real growing divide between those who want to change society and those who are afraid we’re throwing the baby out with the bath-water. Reasoned discussion seems to have given way to name-calling and abuse – not sure that’s going to help much! But I suspect there’s still a massive “silent majority” who are just as decent as they always were. I hope so, anyway!

    • FF, you make some really good points about the book blogosphere being so polite, even when they disagree. And that’s what we were taught, wasn’t it — that it’s okay to have spirited discussion without clobbering each other over the head in rage and frustration?! And I so agree that Twitter has become toxic (probably the reason I concentrate on cute dog videos, ha!) I hope you’re right about that “silent majority.” I’d hate to think everyone is looking for a battle.

  5. For me personally….I have been saddened by all of the things that has happened around the world and in our country. But I heard the Lord say to me…”stay with your purpose.” All who say they are a Christian have a mandate from the bible to be an ambassador for Jesus Christ which means spread the good news of the gospel. That is what I will do unless I get other instructions from Him. What the world needs now is love sweet love! Sounds like a song huh!

    I will limit the amount of news I watch and will do what I can do to keep the peace. I will show love to those who I come into contact with. I will try to keep myself encouraged and motivated to live right. Most of all I will pray as hard as I can for all the hate, evil and lack of morality that is going on in our country. I pray for peace! I will ask God to have MERCY on us all.

    • Time is running short, isn’t it, Tanya? At least, that’s the way it sometimes feels to me (and probably has to countless generations before me). Spreading good and praying continually are ideal ways to handle the madness! Thanks so much for weighing in and reminding us there’s a higher path to take.

    • Ah, Miss A., I get it. I really do. I’ve often thought of hiding away, too. Instead, I hope this is a space where I can spread peace, love, and encouragement — and maybe if enough of us do that, it will stick!

  6. Debbie, I just reread your super-right-on post. I could not agree more with every word! Love the MLK, Jr. quote – and all your quotes here. Sticking with love is not always easy, but it (eventually) diffuses hate. My mama also taught me the same precept as yours. In past leadership & advocacy roles I had to say hard things, but always prayed to say them constructively with love. Nowadays constructive dialogue seems to be slipping into a thing of the past, when we need it so much more in the current context. 💐😱💐💜💐🤗💐

    • Absolutely!! Thank you for confirming that I’m not nuts — the anger and meanness have gotten totally out of hand. We need to bring back kindness, one person at a time!

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