I’m thinking today that there are so many options for kindness. Sometimes, the best one of all is when you want to lunge at someone totally disgusting in their thoughts and words. The greatest kindness then is to not attack them even if you are smarter, better educated, and good with words.
I’ve watched my mom deal with tailgaters. She has PTSD over being smashed by a large car when she was a five-year-old crossing the street. When some big SUV or truck or even a small car tailgates my mom, she becomes livid -- at times unbelievably angry. It’s scary, or it used to be. She would get so furious she had to consciously stop herself. She wants to brake check them to teach them a lesson. She wants to flip them off. She wants to get behind them and chase them and tailgate them.
One day, she realized most aggressive drivers might just have guns in their glove compartments, or at the very least, they were capable of using their cars as weapons in their great hurry, or their huge ego need to be in front. Then she realized it was crazy PTSD, even though that Cadillac hit her decades ago.
Then she decided she was a pretty bad Buddhist to feel so much hate and revenge. Then she decided to re-frame those tailgate situations. She imagined the aggressive drivers were just trying to get to the hospital to visit their sick, possibly dying, relative. Then she imagined they were sometimes parents, late and in a huge hurry to pick up their toddler from preschool. That helped a lot.
She manufactured kindness with her unreasonable mind. It can be done. There are so many other opportunities to not get offended; so many other opportunities to choose kindness. On Facebook, when people come off as obnoxious, it’s time to choose kindness. People could have many reasons for their disturbing behavior. Not all derangement is necessarily a threat. One can simply move on.
I know that when my mom spares someone’s feelings, it’s their lucky day. Her tongue and vocabulary could shred an army of evil. But, really, why not choose kindness? She’s trying. So should you. There are so many reasons for both cruelty and kindness, but if a person chooses kindness, the habit of goodwill develops. If a person continuously feels defensive and cruel, that too becomes habit.
We can consciously change those habits even if we enjoy the bad ones. We have to get a grip and re-frame our anger with compassion before it’s too late. If people would learn compassion all over the world, what a wonderful deal! I’m looking forward to that world.
photo by Carolyn Reed