Saturday, June 24

Analyzing Kindness

My mind is bombarded by this subject lately. To the point that if I don’t find a way to write and articulate the mess in my head I might explode. Writing always helps me feel I have an outlet as well as helps me organize the shelves of my over-thinking mind.

I do have a “Chloe”. Chloe is a sister to me because she understands me like only a sister can. Everyone should have a Chloe. She is a busy person so I don’t get to have her often, but when I do, talking to her makes me say the things I need to hear. It organizes my shelves far faster to talk to her than it does to write. BUT- writing requires only my availability –so write I do.

Kindness has always been a big deal to me. I grew up with the opposite of kindness in the home and so from a very young age I felt and saw what humans should NOT be like. It was as though I was born with knowledge about kindness so watching and hearing the opposite never sat right. I did not integrate what I witnessed into who I am –instead I intrinsically and consciously did “kindness”. (Yes, this started me on the road to enabling very young.)

This is where I break down the word. It’s a complicated subject in my head because of my life experiences in trying to always stay kind. I saw it as a flat thing. Just kind. Be kind. The end. But as I’ve got older I’ve learned that to “be kind” in all situations irrespective of circumstance is a very unhealthy thing to do. Because this makes one an ENABLER. (Now, I’m not saying anything even close to “don’t be kind”, like what I saw growing up… far from it. There are no blanket statements here. And as always, I see things very gray, never black and white.) An enabler is always trying to placate everyone else –trying to make everyone happy –doing and saying anything necessary to “keep the peace”. It’s the HOPE of happiness. It’s a dead end. Its not actually doing anything toward happiness or fixing a situation. It’s just hope that everything will be ok. And then doing or saying anything necessary for everyone to be ok in the moment… which is very much BLIND KINDNESS. It’s just flat… ignorant… kindness with no substance or reason behind it. Placating-enabling-kindness.

I’m trying to get to: No more! I have no desire to continue that type of kindness. My kindness is going to be driven and have reasons behind it. I’ll insist on respect to all parties and when kindness is UNDESERVED it will not be given. It’s educated kindness with purpose and if a person or situation requires me to be more bitchy than kind, that’s what I’m going to do. I won’t so easily be put in enabling situations anymore. From a creepy old guy being nosey with personal questions, to my father insisting he is right in his black and white ways. Now, I’m not going to just sit and have flat kindness. Maybe a situation requires silence. Maybe it requires a “none of your business” or the facial expression to convey it. Maybe it even requires harsh words. When kindness is not the appropriate response it should not be what’s used. THAT is how one stops being an enabler. Stop throwing flat hope at it through false kindness. The Jesus allegory totally damaged our ability to see kindness in a healthy way. Jesus would say 100% of the time be kind. Which is almost funny when you look at the mean god of the old testament who didn’t seem to know kindness… I digress…

A “cups of kindness” initiative has been started by the partnering of Starbucks and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation. 25 cents from each of the drinks sold during this campaign goes to support the foundation and its exceptional goals. ( ) I watched as someone purchased one of the cups of kindness drinks and then immediately made fun of the person handing it to him –the gay barista. The irony of a kindness initiative toward LGBTQ individuals being “supported” by a gay hating/mocking person is what started me on this analysis of kindness. SHOULD that person who acts like an ass be treated with kindness? Many would say yes. I am not. NOR am I saying be mean. I’m saying be honest, stand tall, acknowledge attitude like that is not alright. Kindness isn’t even the word or the response to use in this circumstance. This answer is respect based. If a person does not show respect, does not show kindness, don’t respond with flat/enabling kindness. It’s a dead end. It accomplishes nothing. Would that kid go home and say to himself, “The kindness shown to me after I mocked that gay kid has me feeling bad.” NO. He’s not going to suddenly care that he’s on some level a gay-basher. Even if it’s slight. Kindness is not going to show him he’s in the wrong. What will? Flat out saying: “Not cool. Totally unacceptable you acted like that. You aren’t welcome here.” It’s clear, it’s communication, it’s not cow-towing to the rudeness. It’s looking at it face value and saying “No”. Can you see why I refer to the wrong kind of kindness as being blind? Be awake to the ass-hole-ery of the individual, and use the appropriate response. Kindness might not be part of it.

Just yesterday I was a bitch. I totally stood up for myself and was very clear to a person that does not deserve/warrant my kindness. My response/reaction to him is an educated one. It’s based on knowledge, experience and my UNWILLINGNESS to treat a mean, nosey, gossip with kindness. Especially since he walked up to ME. I did not approach him or invite him into my space. With this particular person I did the blind kindness thing for years -allowing him to take my time and ask nosey questions. This person can only be titled “next door neighbor”. There is no relationship with him to describe him clearer. That’s all there is. It was a few years ago that I stood up and said “no more”. So when he walked into my space, my “no more” was still very true. This neighbor can be heard from outside shouting and swearing at his wife. So my refusal of kindness is educated on not just MY interactions with this nosey/mean individual. He probably went home from my yard butt-hurt or further angry because I had been a bitch. I did not appreciate my book reading to be interrupted by him walking over to me with his attack-dog barking its head off at me in MY yard. I couldn’t count how many times I’ve told him to keep his gawd-awful-attitude dogs out of my yard, and he was trying it on again telling me to pet his dog so it could stop barking and I could answer the question “I just want to know how you are”. No, no, no, no…. this is not going to happen yet again. “Get out of my yard, I’m fine, I don’t want your dogs in my yard. Dogs aren’t hard to train!” Was I able to calmly go back to my book reading? I tried. I tried to be present and calm, telling myself I was welcome to go back to reading my book, but the reality was, he might put his dog inside and then think he could come back to try and be nosey again. I am not going to sit in my front yard and let him see that as some sort of invitation to come talk to me, so I went inside unable to read. MAYBE this neighbor believes he needs to be kind to me despite my attitude… Well, my reply to that is “Go find some kindness for your wife instead.”

One last story, I know this is long. I come in contact with all shapes and sizes of people and I’ve become very adept to picking up on shyness and discomfort. I would estimate between 30-40% of people are uncomfortable talking to a stranger or being in a business they haven’t been in before. How I treat these people is not throwing blind kindness at them. THAT would be very fake. What I do is use intonation of respect, patience, understanding, and friendliness. Sure these could all be called kindness, but again, can you see how much deeper and complicated kindness is? I’m no longer going to think of it as flat or use it in flat ways. If someone has the ability to call me kind it will be backed up with reasons why and kindness will be more like the finish line.

1 comment:

  1. Deep and powerful points. I think you ar spot on. My views of kindness have evolved in recent years as well. I think you are on a great path in your attitude towards kindness.