I’ve learned something over the last few months, and that is that people can be good. It’s much easier to see differences; political, religious, ideological, social, and just automatically build a protective shell between you and them. I’ve done it. It’s natural to protect yourself from those you view as the “enemy”. Some folks can push their views on all of those things way too hard with way too much confidence(ignorance?) that you will agree with them. We’ve seen over the last several years that certain swaths of the population want you to know how they feel when it comes to their political affiliation by flying flags from posts in their yards, posts in their pick-up trucks, hats on their heads, shirts on their backs, and of course everyone’s favorite political hot house: Facebook feed.
For me personally I’ve let myself get caught up in a made up argument with some nondescript, red hat-wearing voter too many times in my head. I’ve always tried to stay abreast of what’s going on in the country I call home both politically and socially, but I’ve never felt so divided and separate from those of the opposite political ilk then I have over these last few divisive years. I’ve allowed my head and heart to get caught up in the fervor. Has it done me any good? Do I feel as if my life has been enriched in getting involved in mental screaming matches with “Lock her up!” chanters and worldwide pandemic deniers? No. In fact I feel worse, honestly.
In the end we just need to come to the realization that all the screaming, the arguing, the head-butting, and the ALL CAPS Facebook posts don’t amount to a damn thing. In the end the reality is that our world will eventually come to an end, either by our own hands or some metaphorical/literal meteor that’s making its way across the vastness of space/time to burn a hole through our atmosphere and into the terra firma of Mother Earth. Our demise is inevitable, either by our own stupidity or the guiding hand of humorless fate. So let’s just make the most of the time left and try to get along.
I’ve personally seen folks that I’d written off as politically stunted and emotionally bereft show kindness, concern, and earnest interest in a friend and fellow employee at my 9 to 5 when he was going through a serious health crisis. Those that we both had little to know interest in getting to know or had zero in common with approaching me at work and showing support for someone they previously seemed to not care about at all before. When it comes down to it I’ve seen that most people put aside differences and get engaged on a human level when someone is dealing with serious stuff. Some of these folks are the same ones that over the years have said and done some questionable things, yet on a human and emotional level can still remember we’re all in this together. In the end, it doesn’t matter who you vote for or who you pray to we’re all the same here; flesh, blood, bone, and we all have good days and bad days. The hope is that the good days folks are here for the bad days folks when it counts.
A lot has gone on this last week in my world. And it’s got me thinking about the nature of kindness, generosity, and just being there for someone who needs it. I’m a pretty private person and keep to myself, but I’d hope that if I had a moment where I needed the help I could find someone to provide it to me. Even just an ear and a cup of coffee. I know that I’d do the same. I’m lucky in that I have a circle of family and friends I know I could count on. Some people don’t have that, or that circle is incredibly small. I’ve always thought of myself as someone that can and will be there for someone who needs me, and this past week has proven that I am that person. I’ll continue to be that person for as long as I can. The time we’re actually here, on this Earth and interacting with fellow Humans is miniscule in the scheme of things. Why spend it pissed off because of something you read online(that you haven’t even fact-checked)? Or upset at assumptions you’ve made about someone because of how they wear their hair or the clothes they choose to wear? Aren’t you tired of being pissed off at things completely out of your control, or that have zero to do with you and your life? I know I am.
Saturday morning I ran into the store to grab a few things. I was sweaty from mowing the grass and was in a hurry to get in and out. I could feel that itch of anguish I get when anxiety is slowly building up. I went to the HBA section looking for fiber pills and was standing more or less in the middle of the aisle when I looked behind me and saw a much older lady with her cart. I apologized for being in the middle of the aisle and she said “That’s okay. They don’t have what I want anyways.” That opened the door to a 10 minute conversation standing in front of Pepto Bismol and containers of powdered Metamucil about her growing up on Barbee Lake, playing baseball with her brothers and neighbor kids the late 40s, early 50s. We talked about leaving in the morning and not coming home till supper time, riding bikes and getting lost in the excitement of a summer day. I’m guessing she was in her late 70s, early 80s, and she told me she had some heart problems and just didn’t have the energy she used to. I told her I imagined going to the store probably took it out of her and she said “Yes it does! I’m ready for a nap by the time I get home!”
I told her “Well, I hope you can find what you’re looking for somewhere else. It was really nice talking to you today.” She said “It was nice talking to you, too. Thank you.” As I paid for my items and walked out of Meijer that angst and anxiety had subsided. And I really did hope she could find what she was looking for at her next stop. Sometimes all it takes is a few moments of your time and genuine interest in what someone has to say to sustain someone. At least until they can get back home, or even to their car.
There are genuinely horrible people out there. I’m not denying that, and those people can rightly screw off. I don’t have time for that. But there’s also people that we may not agree with, but we can still show kindness to. Even if it’s a conversation about the weather, or a fellow co-worker going through something, or even just a complete stranger in the grocery store talking about getting bruises from ground balls in a game of baseball when they were a little kid. That moment of time spent giving someone an ear to speak to can mean the world to them. And you may not know it beforehand, but it could mean the world to you as well.
If all else fails, be kind.
One thought on “If All Else Fails, Be Kind”
Great read J. In the last few months I have no time for horrible people or whiners n complainers. Move on life is too short!
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