Men, like the shooter in Vegas, are lost. They were born innocent and pure, with untainted spirit. They used to laugh and smile when they were on the playground just like you and I. Somewhere along the way, they soured on humanity. We don’t know what happened. Maybe it was an incident in grade school; maybe it was rejection from a girl or job; maybe it was a traffic dispute. Very likely it was years of demoralizing encounters like this that caused them, over time, to lose sight of their connection to their fellow man.
I’m tired of story after story about mass murder, hatred, and division. Something has to be done, so I’m starting today.
But what if… on that same day when they were cut off in traffic, someone else did something positive, and let them merge, for example. What if someone looked them in the eye at the coffee shop and said “I hope you have a good day today”, and really meant it. What if all it takes to counter the hurt they’ve experienced is for someone else to show them kindness and love? Not faux kindness- but real kindness, as if they were our very own kin. Would that change anything?
Well… Consider your own encounters. What happens to your day when someone is obnoxious or rude or inconsiderate? What about when someone does an unexpected kindness? The latter is so powerful that even when we are only a witness to it, it gives us a good feeling that we carry around with us all day, and inspires us to do the same.
So here’s how we do it. Choose one thing a day. Announce it to yourself in the morning… “Today, I’m not going to yell at any other drivers even if they cut me off.” Tomorrow do another thing. It can even be the same thing. The important thing is that you, as an individual, will have countered one act of hatred. Eventually, as we start to employ these tiny positives, they will become habit, and in doing so, we will spread love and kindness. And hopefully, one of our acts of kindness will reach the next would-be shooter, and begin to show them that we are worthy of our lives, and his too. This is easy stuff we can all do. You want to make a bumper sticker come to life? This is how we fight hate with love. Unconditional love – not love with expectations. Not for anything in return.
Are you in?
If you’re in… let me help you get started. Set a daily alarm right now for a time in your morning that will remind you every day to pick something kind you will do that day. If that’s too much to ask, then if nothing else, reach out to people. If you see someone who looks like they’re feeling down, for heaven’s sake, say something! Be there, be present, be open, be available. Below are some ideas to get you thinking. (If you have some other easy ones, please share in the comments below.)
- The guy on the street corner begging for money… Take him at his word. Don’t search for an excuse, like, “I’m in the middle lane I can’t reach him”… Throw the car in park, hop out and hand him $5. You’ll feel better too.
- When you see a parent struggling with their kids in public, don’t scoff or judge them. Instead, offer them a kind word like, “hang in there” or “I feel ya”. All parents have been in their shoes.
- Let someone merge in traffic
- When someone takes too long in the grocery store line, put yourself in their shoes, and be patient
- If you unintentionally hinder someone, offer them a heartfelt apology. If it’s genuine, both of you will feel better about it.
- Hug your mom and dad like you did when you were little – no handshakes.
- If someone is asking for your help (even at work) give it to them
- When someone is talking, really listen. Engage in their story… put yourself in their shoes and feel their pain, joy, or worry, then offer your support with that full understanding you now have
- Say yes
I’m tired of story after story about mass murder, hatred, and division. Something has to be done, so I’m starting today. I realize many will roll their eyes at this, but that’s ok… Somebody has to do something, so I’ll start with myself. This isn’t just some hippie daydream and catch phrase about peace… This is about working on ourselves one little action at a time. Trust me, this will work – but only if you participate.