I am by no means the kindest person I know. I am far from it. I sometimes get moody, I am hangry probably at least twice in the day because I am miserable at meal preparation, and I feel personally insulted when people cut me off on the road. However, I do feel like I am, generally, a kind person, and it pisses me off that everyone can’t be that way.
Maybe my judgments of people’s kindness or lack thereof just isn’t timed well to get a perfect assessment of them. We can’t really judge the entire leaning of a person’s personality based on a few bad moments, right? If you fail a few math tests it doesn’t necessarily make you a failure at math in general. Flawed or not, people make judgments. And, if your judgments of people you know rather well over time lead you to believe they tend to lean unkindly, then you just might be onto something.
What pisses me off is simply the lack of applied principle. Kindness is something that every living being is deserving of. No matter what philosophy or religion or upbringing you have, I would find it hard to believe if you told me that treating others with niceness wasn’t somewhere in its teachings. As a vegan, the idea of kindness and thoughtfulness towards all living beings has become an idea I really find myself thinking about all the time, wondering why it took me so many years of my life for this basic, "foundational" strand of who I am to really strike a chord with me.
Kindness just isn’t hard. It doesn’t cost anything, but maybe a few moments of your time. Sure, time is precious, but how precious is about ten seconds of time? If kindness took ten hours to do well and meanness took one, then yeah, I could see how more people would justifiably be mean rather than nice. But kindness often boils down to a couple of key seconds.
I am my worst critic, and I also know my negative tendencies rather well. Pretty much immediately after blurting something out that is insensitive or inconsiderate, I beat myself up, and I think that most people probably do too, even if their egos don’t readily allow them to admit doing so. I think to myself: “Had I just stepped back for a few seconds and maybe said this one word in replacement of another, this would have been a really different conversation.”
We need to start taking responsibility for the fact that as friends and family of one another, we are the puppeteers of our loved ones’ heartstrings. We are the conductors of the music that sings in their hearts. We are the makers of the memories that will play, over and over again in their minds, for better or for worse. Are our loved ones, or even common members of the human race, not worth ten seconds of thought? Our society prides itself on being bold and saying what we feel and taking action right away. That’s all well and good, but if it hurts another person, what worth does it have? At the end of the day, at the end of our lives, we are measured not by the money in our wallets, the trophies on our shelves, or the possessions on our shelves, but the love left in the hearts of those we knew so that we can spread it around. Act kindly. It takes ten seconds.