The other day, I was gassing up at a local station not far from my house. I get gas there because it’s convenient, but also because they have a Tim Horton’s donut shop located inside. I get a little gas for the car and a medium black coffee for myself. (Don’t tell my wife, but some days I splurge on a chocolate covered angel cream donut!)
On this particular day, an average Joe was at the counter waiting for his order. Another young woman, probably in late twenties was behind me, and the clerk, a woman in her mid-twenties or so was at the register.
When I walked in, average Joe was in mid-sentence, “people just aren’t kind anymore.” I could tell he was being genuine and speaking from the heart. I don’t know how their conversation got started, but there it was: Basic kindness was missing in the world today.
The clerk at the register, a bit agitated, said, “if one more person gets nasty with me today, I’m going to scream!” The woman in line behind me said, “No no! You don’t take shit from anyone, honey! You gotta fight back, am I right?”
I thought for a moment and tried interjecting, “Today, with COVID-19, job layoffs, economic hardship. . . you never know what people are going through. Perhaps just need a little kindness, though they may be less than kind themselves at times.”
The conversation stopped. The clerk looked up at me for a moment, probably realizing that she was complaining in front of customers . . . not exactly something I’m sure the franchise trains their staff to do. I could tell by looking at her that she was thinking on it and perhaps realizing that she should be a bit kinder herself, at least given her customer service job.
But the woman behind me just barked out even louder. “Uhh uhh, no no. People aren’t worth it. You gotta watch out for yourself.”
To be honest, I wasn’t surprised at the exchange. I paid for my coffee, gave the clerk and the others a smile and said, “enjoy the rest of your day!”
We all know that this world has become far different than we may remember. There’s a bitterness and hardness that seems to pervade everything and puts everyone on edge. The news media sells fear and anxiety. Social Media makes big money from advertising those things that cause fear and anger. We have politics of division flung at us from every level, local, State, and Federal. Let’s face it, hate and anger is a powerful force, perhaps more today than at any time I can recall in my own life.
But I refuse to give up the challenge to try and be kind to others, in spite of it all.
I really don’t know why I’m so passionate about trying to be kind to others. It used to be something preached from Christian teachings, though certainly not practiced much any longer:
Matthew 36-40 says, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
That used to be the Golden Rule. We raised our kids at one time with that in mind, sending them off to school with encouragement to “be nice” or to “play nice” with others.
And, to be fair, Christianity doesn’t have exclusivity about the Golden Rule. You can find it in other religions, from Buddhism to Islam and even in non-religious teachings.
The Golden Rule used to be ingrained into our societal fabric. Today? Not so much. Sometimes, I wonder if at all.
But there ARE people who are kind out there still, probably more than we realize. For example, have you seen the video about the young girl, Delilah, who was surprised by Plain White T singing “Hey There Delilah” to her from her hospital room? That is kindness in action!
Then there’s the story about a nurse, Sha’Kyra Aughtry, from Buffalo who helped to save a man during the Blizzard in 2023. Sha’Kyra saw a man out her window during the raging blizzard. He was clearly in danger and suffering. She and her boyfriend went out into the storm, brought him in, and provided emergency care to him while awaiting for Fire & Rescue to take him to the hospital. There’s no doubt that with out their kind action, that man would likely be another victim of that brutal storm. She and her boyfriend showed unbelievable kindness to that man. Again, genuine kindness in action.
One of the tenets of The Way of the Crazy Dog is tenet #1: “Be Kind and Loving.” It’s really just the Golden Rule, but it’s so important.
Why is it that the everyday folks, like those I first mentioned above from Tim Horton’s in this story, don’t seem to realize that kindness begins with each of us?
So many just complain and complain about what a horrible, hate-filled world we live in, yet never realize that perhaps they need to be the examples living out the Golden Rule. It never seems to occur to most people that the world is made of all of us and that if we want to have a better world, then perhaps each of us needs to be the example of what we want that world to be.
Yes, I know, that sounds preachy. Perhaps it is.
But I guess, deep down, I just refuse to accept being one of those people who are unkind, mean-spirited, or hateful. Instead, I choose to try to try to be the tiny bit of kindness in my own neighborhood and sphere of influence. My wife calls me, “the Good Deed Doer” like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz.
Am I perfect? No. Am I like Jesus walking on water? Certainly not. Am I Mother Theresa? No. I am flawed and imperfect, like all of us. None of us are perfectly good, perfectly kind.
But I do challenge myself everyday to be kind to others. It’s not always reciprocated nor is it always well-received. But I have to try. Because I know that we can’t give up and we can’t give in. I certainly want to live in a world where the Golden Rule matters again. And that begins with me.
Consider taking The Crazy Dog Living Challenge for just one week. Find some way to be kind to those in your home, family, neighborhood, school, or place of work. It doesn’t have to be a big effort like Plain White T’s, nor life saving like Sha’Kyra’s.
Just BE the kindness you want to see in our world. Smile at someone. Be neighborly or friendly to those you encounter. Who knows? If enough of us take action, perhaps we can find more joy, love, and happiness in each day.
Yes, Kindness still matters to me. How about you?