Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Little Kindness

Dogs are honest, transparent, loyal and trusting.  Their love may be based on my ability to provide them with the things they need to survive - but in return they provide me with what I need - unconditional acceptance and love.  It is a mutually beneficial relationship.

I am surprised at how cruel people can be to each other.  It blindsides me because I do not expect it.  I do not operate that way, thus I naively assume others do not either.

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.  - Maya Angelou

Yesterday I took my kids to see the movie 'War Horse'.  We were unable to enjoy the movie to its fullest extent because of an extremely drunk elderly woman who stumbled up the stairs and sat on the steps at our feet, mumbling, and rocking.   Only one seat was available next to us and for some reason, I offered it to her.

Really, I had two choices - choose contempt or compassion.  Contempt:  Make a scene, get security and have them remove her - sour our attitudes & maybe the movie for the people around us.  Or treat this woman like someone who deserved my compassion.  What harm would it do for me to be kind?  For whatever reason G_d placed her next to me. 

What if this woman was my child?  Or my friend?  How would I want them to be treated?  What if it were me? 

It very well could be any one of us.  It is so easy to turn up our nose and think we will never be in those same circumstances.   You don't know that.  If you had been born into a fractured family, had a different set of genes, life experiences, pain, despair, abandonment, it could be any one of us.

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them.  - Dalai Lama

Most of the movie she held my hand, stroked my arm, laid her head on my shoulder, giggled with the movie, cheered for the horse and cried.  Parts of me wanted to pull away.  Many times I wanted to push her off of me...but I thought of my son.  My strange son with schizophrenia.  I pray he encounters people in his life who react with kindness instead of contempt. 

Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat. ~ Mother Teresa

Who is a better person? A homeless young woman walking the streets selling the only thing she has left?  Or successful pediatric oncologist? Who is more beloved in the eyes of our Heavenly Father? 

Is that for you to answer? 

Often we meet people in the middle of their life story.  We do not know the challenges a person may have faced.  What happened at the beginning of their story?   When you met the person you simply opened a book up in the middle - never bothering to go back and find out how they arrived at that chapter.

We judge too quickly. 

Who says your blood is redder than his? (Talmud - Sanhedrin 74a)

People who may seem to be at the lowest part of their life, may have in fact worked for years to overcome circumstances, abuse, hardship, tragedy to even reach the point they are at now. 

I have tried to teach my children to not judge someone "unless you have walked a mile in his shoes".  Since we can never be in exactly the same set of shoes, or know the summation of their life experiences, judging someone is not an effective means of coping.

Judging needs to be replaced with compassion & acceptance. 

Instead of saying "How dare you" why not replace it with "How did you get here?" and then listen with an open heart, compassion and love.

When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.  - Wayne Dyer


Country Girl said...

Beautiful post. Thank you.

Shelly said...


Pat A said...

This is so true. The person coming toward you with a frown will usually smile if you do. "judge not lest ye be judged"

Denise Schoen said...

What a wonderful post & what a wonderful way to live life. Plan to print it out to remind myself to be a better person. Thank you.
Happy New Year!

gvmama said...

That is one of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes.

Brianne said...

Beautifully said.

Patty in NM said...

I agree with you totally. It seems that American society today revels in ugliness. Just watch those reality shows and contests. Especially those contests. I don't understand why they have to humiliate the contestants. Each day let us all strive to be more compassionate toward others. As the magnate on my fridge says "Dear Lord, please let me be the person my dog thinks I am."

pam said...

Thank you for sharing. A good reminder to treat people with grace.

forensicfarmgirl said...

Beautiful. Simply beautiful!