Posts Tagged meanness

Saving Kindness – Sister Sandra Makowski

Once upon a time, in a little village in India, there lived a kind old man who would pray every morning at the Ganges River.  One morning, as he was praying, his eyes landed on a poisonous spider that was struggling in the water.  He cupped his hands to carry it ashore.   As he placed the spider on the ground it stung him.  His prayers saved him from the results of the sting.  However, the second day he returned to the river and the same thing happened.  Finally, on the third day, this kind man was knee deep in the river, and sure enough, there was that same spider, legs frantic in the water.  As the man went to lift the spider yet again, the spider said to him, “Why do you keep lifting me?  Can’t you see that I will sting you every time, because that is what I do?”  And the kind man cupped his hands about the spider yet again, and replied, “Because that is what I do.”

In the book The Book of Awakening, where we find this story, Mark Nepo continues by stating that there are many reasons to be kind, but none is as compelling as the spiritual fact that it is what we do.  It is how the inner organ of being keep pumping.  Spider sting, wolves howl, ants build small hills that no one sees, and human beings lift each other up no matter the consequences.  This is what it means to be human.  To be human is to be kind despite the consequences.  At other times, it may be the reaching out that is even more important than the sting.

My question lately, however, has been, if this is true – that being human is being kind despite the consequences, then why do I find myself actually surprised when I find myself in the presence of kindness?  It didn’t used to be that way.  Now – when I am in the presence of kindness it appears to be more like an act of heroism rather than a simple human response.  What has happened to kindness in our world?  Why does kindness sometimes appear to be on the endangered species list?  Is kindness becoming a lost art?  Has it gone out of style, and, if so, why, and what can we do about it?

There appears to be a lot of meanness in our world. I don’t understand harsh words, mean-spirited actions, and nastiness.  I don’t understand swearing, foul language, bullying, or intolerance toward others who attempt to express a different opinion or point of view.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am sure that I have had my share of righteousness at times, and I have my moments when I want to shove someone under a bus. But it is usually because I have come face to face with cruelty, and I have become pierced by its pain and its sting and its evil force.  Common courtesy seems to be pretty uncommon, whereas violence and meanness have become contagious.

Starting today, let us resolve to take a journey together – a journey of recovering kindness.  If we can recover kindness, then we can take its side.  Let us put away our prejudice, our need to win every battle of words, and our need to put someone down or disregard the feelings and needs of those around us.  Let us put aside every harsh and mean-spirited word that spills from our mouths, and let us walk together on this journey where God’s Word will flow from our mouths instead of words that kill and smother another human beings reputation.

Let us allow God’s Words to be our words, our melody of action in the daily walk of life.  Then, our journey to recover kindness will become automatic, like the wise man who reached to save the spider no matter the consequence.  It is what we do.  Let’s together form a kindness crusade.  We will never lose the battle if we choose the winning side – the side of kindness.

 

SAVING KINDNESS

Faceless and frantic, running and weaving,

In and out of people’s lives as well as one’s own.

Dropped paper, garbage on the streets, as well as an

Empty shell that once held a life.

 

Searching for softness and generosity, a smile, or even

Just a nod of notice

A gift of gratitude

A thank-you

A door being opened

A child held in love

A sadness transformed into a revelation

A window of giving – a truth exposed

A life turning toward wholeness once again.

One window, one touch, one step, one glance

Won over,

By one small gesture.  That’s not asking for too much is it?

One small glimmer of hope

That the world has not given up on kindness.

 

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In Unkind Culture, Is There Still Something Nice to Say? ethicsdaily.com

I helped launch the Say Something Nice Day movement 13 years ago.

Never in my wildest imagination did I think that the greatest barriers to our success would become a president of the United States and evangelical Christians who support his coarse way of communicating and his behavior.

I remember when President Bill Clinton was skewered for his sexual exploits and Vice President Joe Biden was roundly condemned for his foul language.

I remember when the Republican Party campaigned vigorously as the party of family values.

I remember when the Southern Baptist Convention apologized to the African-American community for its racial discrimination in the past, promising a new day of race relations.

Those days have faded.

The pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, Robert Jeffress, says that the president’s sexual behaviors will not keep him from supporting the president. “Evangelicals knew that they were not electing an altar boy,” Jeffress said.

Franklin Graham, son of the famed evangelist, says that Trump is God’s chosen: “God put him in the White House for a reason.”

Henry McMaster, the Republican governor of South Carolina, said that the students who protested in support of the Parkland, Florida, high school students were a disgraceful tool of the left wing.

Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Center, says that evangelicals have given the president a mulligan on the Stormy Daniels adventure.

I have searched the Bible from cover to cover and I can’t locate either 1 Mulligan or 2 Mulligan. I must have been asleep when my pastor preached from that text.

I was wide awake when my pastor preached on forgiveness, but President Trump said that he has done nothing for which he needs to seek forgiveness.

Perhaps Peter was misquoted. “How many mulligans should I give, seven times seven?”

On the president’s language, Franklin Graham said, “He is a businessman. That is just the way he talks.”

Growing up, when I talked as the president so often does, I got my mouth washed out with Octagon soap. Dad did not give me a mulligan. Maybe he was asleep that Sunday also.

After all of the crudeness and meanness in the public square today, is there still something nice to say? Yes.

Amy Butler, pastor of Riverside Church in New York, is planning a conference on God and guns for pastors and church leaders.

Former president Jimmy Carter is still leading a brave movement for the inclusion of women in church leadership.

High school students are still exercising their right to protest peaceably. A second-grade teacher in Oklahoma, Haley Curfman, encourages creativity by allowing her students to write kind things on her white dress.

Pope Francis continues his pleas for mercy and forgiveness. Mayor Tom Tait of Anaheim, California, campaigned on a platform of kindness.

Large sections of our society have become mean and disrespectful of others, but those of us who cling to the teachings of Jesus are faced with a great challenge: How do we persevere when so much of our opposition is in the church and so much of the meanness is coming from the pulpit?

We turn to Jesus for the answer. Most of his opposition when he was on earth came from the church of his day. Most of his criticism was directed at the religious leaders of his time.

In spite of the opposition, he stuck to his message of love and forgiveness. He never deviated from that message. From the cross, he pleaded, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

The message of Easter is that when he arose from the grave, he returned to those people who killed him. He never gave up on them or us. He hasn’t given up. Neither should we.

June 1 is Say Something Nice Day. June 3 is Say Something Nice Sunday. These are tangible opportunities to model constructive conversations and to infuse some positive rhetoric into the public discourse.

Keep on keeping on. Go about doing good. Say something nice to everyone you meet.

 

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