Friday, July 5, 2013

Coping With Unkindness

Often times rudeness begets rudeness.  A friend of mine taught me a way to not fall into that trap.  Essentially she would make up a reason to explain why a person would behave the way they did.  For example, if a driver was weaving through traffic and cut her off in the process, she would simply explain that his wife must be in labor or that his son was dying and he desperately had to get where he was going.  Sometimes the excuses she made up for others rude or inconsiderate words and actions were quite possible, sometimes  they were humorous, and sometimes they really were a stretch.  Regardless, this exercise allowed her to explore the situation from outside her own vantage point and gave the other person the benefit of the doubt.  Isn't it better to assume the best of someone?  Isn't it better to try to understand where they are coming from before reacting without thinking and possibly saying or doing things that we later regret?

The essence behind what she did lies in the truth that people do things for a reason and we just don't have all the pieces to the puzzle.  I'm sure if we did, we could better understand their actions and perhaps have more patience, sympathy, and love for them, regardless of their behavior.  One time when my daughter was a toddler, she was really acting up and was eventually sent to time-out.  I remember being very upset with her and frustrated with her behavior.  Suddenly, she was throwing up.  Immediately my eyes were opened as I understood the cause: she was sick!  I felt horrible for being upset with her instead of recognizing that something was wrong, that there was a reason behind her actions and not just that she was trying to ruin my day.  This new knowledge immediately brought compassion and love to my heart and my own behavior towards her changed.

So maybe we can't change the world and make everyone be nice, but we can do our part to stop it from being passed around like an infectious disease. Whether we make up reasons for others unkindness or we take the time to learn the real ones, understanding is a key element to kindness.  "He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly" (Proverbs 14:29).

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Taming Unkindness

"And then shall the wolf dwell with the lamb; and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling, together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (2 Nephi 30:12-15).

Whether this is literal or simply referring to the beasts within each of us that sometimes lash out in unkindness and hurt others, the cure is clear. Knowledge of the Lord inspires love and kindness among all His creations.

"Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me" (Doctrine and Covenants 19:23).

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Where Has all the Kindness Gone?

Have you ever read the comments that follow an online article?  I have been completely blown away by the rampant rudeness of commentators.  It doesn't even seem to matter if the subject matter of the article is controversial or not, a battle tends to ensue full of insults and childish name calling.  Are these really mature adults or have their children taken over the computer?  Why is it that people are prone to behave so disrespectfully in faceless communication? Is it so hard to remember that there are actual people with actual feelings typing those words?  Or is it possible people truly would say such horrible things to another's face?  While I would hope not, I do believe that kindness is not as prevalent as it should be, both online as well as in person.

Why is this the case?  Has it always been this way or is there a decline?  Am I the only one that is bothered by it?  What can be done about it?  All these questions and more have been running through my mind for some time now.  I would love others insights, experiences, and perceptions to help me in this exploration, so please leave your comments on this and any other post that follows on this topic (but remember to be nice!).  Maybe together we can find a cure for this infectious epidemic.