Today’s growing uncertainty and negativity brought me to where I must again write about kindness. In my 2012 post about kindness I told how a checkout clerk in a Big Box Store taught me that kindness is the opposite of rudeness.
I went to look for wine glasses so my wife and I could enjoy wine in our Motel instead of using their flimsy glasses. After a frustrating search I found two plastic wine glasses and took them to the cashier. He couldn’t ring them up because they had no bar code, but I insisted, “they were the last two on the shelf.” I grumped, and then found a woman on the service desk and led her back to the shelf to prove that I had taken the last two. Ops, there were at least a dozen on the shelf; all with bar codes.
I apologized to her and to the cashier for being rude. He was then waiting on a Latino mom trying to pay for a toy with a damaged bar code. He smiled at me and said, “That’s OK,” and went off to find her a one with a scan-able label. Meanwhile she taught me to be patient.
After I left the store I wondered, “How does he do it; stand there hour after hour and deal with grumpy old men like me and keep his composure?” I doubt he knew about A Course in Miracles. What does that say for me? It tells me to be aware of my impatience and follow George Elliot’s heroine Dorothea as Elliot described her in her conclusion to Midddlemarch.
Her finely-touched spirit had still its fair issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name in the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffused: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistorical acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.
Elliot framed Dorothea within a story replete with human foibles making her nature far nobler than the characters with whom she lived, especially the hypocrites who flaunted religion. The K-Mart cashier’s kindness was an “unhistorical act,” from a “faithfully hidden life.”
Now five years later we need kindness more than ever. It will help all of us to settle down and counteract what is happening in the world. I not going to be a “bliss ninny” and believe that our leading perpetrator of unkindness will have a change of mind. But we can be kind to counteract unkind behavior.
Many people are thinking about kindness. In Catherine Pearson’s article in the November 14, 2014 issue of Huffington Post she offered, “5 Incredibly Easy Ways to Spread Kindness Every Day.”
1. Make a personal connection, 2 Make someone’s day easier, 3 Use the talents you already have, 4.Forgive someone, 5. Meditate.
Number 1, 2 and 4 are self- evident. Number three suggests that if you love to cook; cook someone a good meal. If you are a “handyman,” repair something for someone. As for number Five, Meditate, Pearson suggests that when meditating think positive thoughts about someone.
Kindness is dramatized in, “The Way,” a movie about four pilgrims who become friends while walking the “way” of St. James. In a poignant scene one pilgrim, a writer who overcame writers block during the walk wrote this about his fellow traveler Jost. “For Jost kindness is an instinct.” Let’s all embrace kindness as an instinct.
One way to do that is to think of kindness is as “a touch of Heaven,” with everyone we interact with. In the following poem from Workbook Lesson 67 the terms Holiness, Kindness, Helpfulness and Perfection refer to God. Thus we see that we were touched with heaven as God created us holy, kind, helpful and perfect.
Holiness created me holy.
Kindness created me kind.
Helpfulness created me helpful.
Perfection created me perfect.
What would it take for us to be kind to everyone in our everyday lives?
Follow the advice Greek philosopher Philo gave us centuries ago.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is doing a hard battle.”