I am sad. Yesterday, there was a shooting in a high school in Northern Ohio.
I’ve been watching CNN’s coverage of the story. They interviewed a radio personality who was on the air for seven hours yesterday, acting as the collective couch for a city’s therapy. He spoke of the sadness, rage, and hurt callers shared. He said he heard blame for everything from teachers to social media to not allowing corporal punishment. Most people were just trying to make sense of what is senseless.
Without speculating about what drove this boy to take a gun to school and shoot students, which will likely take weeks of analysis, I’d like to offer this thought: We should be kind. We should all be kind. We should all be kind to everyone. We should be kind at all times and in all places.
I’m not so naive as to believe that a tragedy could have been averted with a random act of kindness, but I am wise enough to see that a small act of kindness to someone who desperately needs to feel valued and loved could change the course of that person’s thought in that moment, which could have a ripple effect in that person’s frame of mind for the day.
We’ve seen a lot about bullying lately. I think bullies and gunmen are not so far apart in that they feel very belittled and need to act out to take someone else down to elevate themselves. If someone had been kind to the bully in the first place, if someone had made the person feel loved and valued, would that have changed anything?
Many of my friends work in retail or customer service. They are often the people who absorb the rage of the customers who have little outlet for their frustration but for spewing venom on the people waiting on them. The effect is the same. Had kindness been part of their regular lives, would they feel the need to be rude to the waiter, or to yell at the service representative? Many of us feel helpless and undervalued. Kindness to others lifts us all, for in being kind to someone else, you become kind. People may not always remember your name or your achievements, but they will always remember how you made them feel.
I believe we need to honor the respect and dignity of everyone, even when they least deserve it, for that is when they need it the most. While I’m not advocating one become the world’s doormat, I am saying if we all created an atmosphere of kindness, it could not help but contribute to a sense of wellness and security that would make us all happier people.
While practicing kindness may not be the antidote to sociopaths, it could certainly make waiting in line at the grocery store or in traffic on the interstate a more pleasant place. I’m willing to try. Are you with me?