The Extinction of Kindness


make_america_kind_again_embroidered_cap-p2333668949438323340kblc_400Every time I watch the news, or read an article, or listen to the radio about our Presidential election, I think, “What in the world is happening?”  I see intelligent, respected analysts and leaders trying to speak reason, trying to maintain a measure of civility and maturity while the most immature person at the table is running the conversation.

What happens when a culture allows for an individual who is clearly a bully, a narcissist and power monger to have the last word?

What happens to a society when our media plays into the hands of a demagogue?

What happens to our moral compass when we hear words of hate and we do not hold the hater accountable?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer attempted to speak up when a tyrant in his day played into the hands of a naive and vulnerable people:

“We have been silent witnesses of evil deeds; we have been drenched by many storms; we have learnt the arts of equivocation and pretense; experience has made us suspicious of others and kept us from being truthful and open; intolerable conflicts have worn us down and even made us cynical. Are we still of any use? What we shall need is not geniuses, or cynics, or misanthropist, or clever tacticians, but plain, honest, and straightforward men. Will our inward power of resistance be strong enough, and our honesty with ourselves remorseless enough, for us to find our way back to simplicity and straightforwardness?” 
 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

Let me speak plainly and simply:  we have terminated kindness. We have lost our moral compass that reminds us that we are all human beings. We are all born. We all die. No one person is better than any other. No one person is less deserving of education, food, shelter and clothing.  We have forgotten the value of human decency.

Kindness is not a sign of weakness. It is not flowers and rainbows.  It is not a moral value that we only encourage among preschoolers.  Kindness is a fundamental value that contributes to a just and moral society.  Without kindness, we become elitists.

As polarized and adversarial as our country appears to be right now, the only way I can see us mending our complete dislike for each other, is by being intentionally kind to each other, and by not allowing those who sling messages of hate and dissent to have the final word.  Our society has to say, “Yeah, I think those liberals are a misguided, but I will not bend to the lowest common denominator and speak unkindly.”  “Sure, I disagree with everything the Right stands for, but I will not engage in name calling and immature banter.”  The body must be strong enough to heal where it is broken. We are better than this.

We cannot hope or expect the media, politicians, or those with power and influence to be the moral compass for our society.  The society must set the standard of moral decency to those who have power and voice.

We are only as good as we treat those whom we hate.

Has anyone seen kindness?  Or did it die on the cross?

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