Earlier today, April 18, 2023, I was watching CBS Mornings. The lede was about Ralph Yarl being shot after ringing the doorbell at the wrong address he went to in order to pick up his friends. Thankfully, his parents said he’s recovering and has a wonderful happiness and attitude in recovery.
The young man, after being shot and miraculously not dying, drove wounded to a couple houses nearby asking for help. He was turned away before passing out and the police / rescue were called to the scene.
CBS Morning news then proceeded to relay the story of a woman who was fatally shot in Upstate, NY after trying to turn around in a driveway.
Gayle King then said, paraphrasing, “It is seventeen minutes into the hour and already the news is so dark and depressing. What is wrong us as a society?” She was so moved and saddened. It wasn’t surprising that she expressed herself. But she almost seemed despairing at how low we have fallen morally and ethically as a society.
Vladimir Duthiers then said, “Remember when you used to be able to go to the neighbor and ask to borrow a cup of sugar? Nowadays, you fear your neighbor.”
As I write this story, there are a ton of thoughts rolling through my head. I don’t want to be “Debbie Downer” and just pile on with all the doom and gloom. But neither to I want to be preachy or “pie in the sky”. This life we all live is not simple, nor is it always happy or always sad, and it certainly isn’t all rainbows and unicorns.
Crazy Dog Living is about inspiring others to LIVE LIFE BETTER. We all, including this author, are complex individuals with hopes and dreams, flaws and emotional challenges. No one is all good or all bad. And no one certainly walks on water.
I spent most of my life being a Christian. Honestly, I’ve kind of boiled all Christian teachings down to just the Greatest Commandment. Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV):
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Mostly, I practice verse 39: Love your neighbor as yourself. In fact, I try to genuinely live by it. I’m certainly not perfect and often fall short. I can be a jerk, though I don’t mean to, at times. No one can be that perfectly good all the time. We all fall short for sure.
Before you think I’m preaching here, let me just say that for much of America for these past many decades, the Golden Rule used to be what many of us were brought up with. There is the equivalent in other faiths too, from the tenets of Buddhism, or Islam . . . most cultures have the same basic moral idea of the Golden Rule.
For me, I know that morals and ethics are almost a part of the biorhythm in people. Goodness and meanness, kindness and meanness, love and hate, light and Dark . . . they all seem to ebb and flow throughout history and time.
So how do we respond when times are, as Gayle King alluded, so dark? Is there nothing that we can do as individuals against the shifting moral and ethical tides and winds? Do we give up? Do we just accept there’s nothing we can do? Do we give in and embrace the darkness, meanness, and hatred? Do we get angrier and more mean? Do we withdraw into our dark caves and pull back from larger society?
No . . . we cannot succumb to defeatism or nihilism. And, even if we have been less than moral or good, it is NEVER too late to be better than our baser or worse selves. We must never give up the fight to find the strength to be kind and loving.
Rather than strive for wholesale change in ourselves, or in our society, we can all begin to take simple actions to lean towards moral goodness.
“Imagine what our neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.” – Mr. Rogers
If you see someone who’s angry, just be kind to them anyways. Yes, it may be hard.
If you see someone hurting, just be kind to them. Yes, it may be hard for you to do so.
If you see someone different than you, just be kind to them anyways. We are ALL different than those around us in many ways, attributes, culturally and more.
Deep down, I think we all want to be treated kindly, loved, and valued.
So today, let’s all try a little harder. Let’s practice being kind, not just to those we love in our circles of friends and families, but to those who are strangers to us, those who are different than us, and those who may even be hard to be kind to.
Keebler the Crazy Dog, our mascot, lives this out in our neighborhood. There isn’t a person he doesn’t want to meet, approach, and be kind to. He’s a special dog who just enjoys being kind to others.
Be like Keebler. Be kind. Practice the art of offering one kind word to someone else, as Mr. Roger’s espoused, just to one person. It matters more than you realize.
One kind word is not too high a price to pay to build a better way of living together.
Be kind as often as you can. It matters.