Kindness 101

Each morning, I wake up and engage in a daily practice of meditation and breathing exercises.

I quiet and balance my energies, only to get into my car and immediately cross paths with a colossal asshole who shows up out of nowhere and blows all that morning effort to shit. I know it’s a test, and I can pass, but lately, my impatience regarding the lack of kindness has been severely taxed, with me falling into an unkind environment. When you spend your life surrounded by those who practice kindness and have similar values, you presume it’s normal. Then, when a tidal wave of whatever this lousy behaviour is shows up routinely, you react.

We are the demographic that went from typewriters to computers, from landlines to digital machines, to standing up for an array of issues our mothers would shy away from due to the era. We’re amazing women busting out with decades of banked wisdom and kindness because we were the last generation that graduated into an adulthood void of digital culture. Kindness was instilled in us. Spam was still a food product when we were actively in the workforce. We talked face-to-face to sort out our issues, forgave and moved on. We’re the generation infused with the best of old-school values, acceptance and moving on after seeking closure.

I’m aware the universe is presenting this archetype as my teacher in restraint and balance, but I do hunger for kindness. We were taught that in kindergarten, alongside sharing and cleaning up our messes. Other valuable life skills and sensibilities are disappearing with manipulation, entitlement and bad behaviour, perpetuating separation when we need peace and unity.

Entering COVID, everyone was on the same page, chanting, ‘We’re all in this together.’ That hardly lasted two weeks. Once COVID was over, it was an attitude of “let’s pick up where we left off on the path to hell.”

The thing is, kindness is nothing more than consideration. How you wish to be treated, you treat others. It’s not a biggie, but it appears to be these days. The lack of it is creating unnecessary polarity. It shows up in everyday experiences like an inconsiderate action where someone parks, taking one and a half parking spaces. If you can’t park in one, then don’t drive, but taking two is not being kind. It’s being an asshole. Parking so no one parks next to you will attract the exact attention you’re trying to avoid.

Continuing with the traffic talk because I see nothing but a lack of kindness on the roads. Please don’t cut me off. We’re all in a hurry, but it will take longer to reach your destination than a few seconds if there’s an accident. Take a breath, move over, and I will let you in if I can. Then, acknowledge me the same way I will make every effort to recognize you. Thank you is a powerful word; a simple wave is a gesture underlining an intent that works miracles. Don’t be so hurried that we both have an accident. I didn’t sign up for a race or see a number on my car, so back the fu*k off.

When I call an institution that demands I behave kindly and considerately, that doesn’t give them latitude to have an attitude. You don’t want guff from me, fair, but don’t take advantage of your post and feel like you can dish it out and hide behind your company’s phone message. Be kind. That holds for not only all institutions but all levels of government. Yup, even you CRA agents. Save the attitude. We’re all paying taxes and working hard, so though you want to portray your heart as stone, keep that facade to yourself. You get a lot more flies with honey than with vinegar. We’re all human, vulnerable, and need each other, so wrap that around your accusatory 4B pencil.

The late Robert Plant sang, “It takes every kind of people,” but where are the kind ones? Dare to let the person behind you who has six items check out in front of you if you have 56 items. It’s so little, but it turns the planet on its axis when people are kind. The sad thing of late is that when you’re kind, it’s extraordinary, so much so people are suspicious of you. What’s your motive? Never mind that it’s a decent thing to do.

Kindness has morphed into a weird state. The apprehension behind it creates more separation that keeps our human family anchored to our devolution, distancing unity and opting for self-importance. No wonder the planet is unhinged. Sadly, our society will celebrate vacuous things on social platforms and put kindness in its shadow. We need to make it more critical. We can blame that never-ending hurry that will hurry us to the grave, but that’s an excuse.

Technology does work as a highjacker of kindness instead of face-to-face or phone conversations. Remember heartfelt letter writing? Shakespeare would be on Xanax if he existed today. Words are used more often, particularly on social media, to murder instead of empower others. We don’t have the same empathy as we used to because we’re pissed with our lot in life compared to others. Never for a moment do we consider that suffering comes from comparing ourselves. Further, we believe that that tiny sliver of whatever information we conjure up is true. We don’t stop for a second to recognize the incredible loads others carry. We’re only seeing a sliver and being instrumental in creating narcissism and greed as the new global celebrities.

I’m not promoting a sappy way of being; I am suggesting transcendence comes from being present. Even in uncomfortable situations, you can rise to the occasion of navigating your way through kindness. It takes intelligence to stop at the moment, identify the issue and not become reactive but empathic.

There are those afraid to be kind because they’re in fear around it. Now that’s telling. It shows how quickly we are regressing as a humanity instead of expanding. People don’t want to be vulnerable when that is true strength. We have it ass backwards. But if you speak from a place of loving intent, then you can’t offend. Your words won’t allow that. We don’t need to worry about how others interpret our actions when we’re being kind.

Poor manners have had an exhilarated rise to power because of the lack of kindness, which is intolerable. We never stop to audit the fact we only know what we know—so we are limited within our ego as to how the world shows itself to us. Our mind doesn’t ever consider the unimaginable amount of kindness, Love and opportunity that exists for everyone because we can’t envision it, so it doesn’t exist. Similar to the myth that Native Americans couldn’t see ships because they didn’t know such a thing existed. It didn’t fit into their experience? Or how my kids can’t see the mustard on the second shelf of the fridge as it stares back at them.

Even our House of Commons, publically elected officials, has turned into a circus with people being rude, disrespectful and unruly. Having high standards allows us to tolerate less and expect more. We accept it because we’ve become jaded and used to unkindness. It’s so widespread now it feels like the norm rather than the exception. That doesn’t mean it needs to continue. It means it needs to change.

Kindness’s closest relative is the one and only Love. It’s the key to everything; yes, it will show you who’s the butthead, and you have to learn from those archetypes as they are our most important teachers. They show us how to disengage, to declare ourselves, and to, no matter what, not care about what others think. They are taking a role in our expansion by being the protagonists. How we process and behave in that role shows us whether we’re expanding as human beings or not.

Things have to break before they can get fixed, and apparently, the entire planet is in the shop for repairs. Being aware I’m not on the top of the food chain allows space for insights, experiences and beautiful things to enter my life so I can constantly nurture my kindness. You need to be present to notice it and then allow it in. As we age, the goalposts shift, and we become gentler around things. We finally see stuff we’ve been exposed to for a lifetime but never really saw. And on this journey of kindness, we need not forget ourselves in the process and learn to forgive, Love and cherish who we are and recognize that we matter.

All this to say, be kind. It’s good for the soul. You will have shifted someone’s day for the better, and you’re genuinely helping to heal the planet one person at a time.

As the Dalai Lama says, “Be kind whenever possible.  It is always possible.”