“One who is kind is sympathetic and gentle with others. He is considerate of others' feelings and courteous in his behavior. He has a helpful nature. Kindness pardons others' weaknesses and faults. Kindness is extended to all—to the aged and the young, to animals, to those of low station as well as high.”
Ezra Taft Benson
One of my next door neighbors leaves his dogs, two large black labs, outside at night. One of them tunes up about 3 a.m. and barks until someone comes out to feed him around 6. He's a big dog; his bark is loud, and he may as well be standing in my bedroom. I turn on fans, and do everything I know to block out the sound, to no avail.
Kindness, in my world view, is a big, broad category that includes things like thinking before you speak, not saying things to intentionally injure, and checking behavior that seems to create an awkward environment. It means thinking first, period. Asking oneself questions such as, how will my words affect others; can say what I need to say, and still remain respectful? Is there a way to accomplish what is needed without causing ill will, or bad feelings? Can I do it without shaming the other person? It means going against the grain of one's instinct, and instead, putting the priority on civility.
I'll be honest, everything in me wanted to go next door and sit on his doorbell at 3 a.m. I wanted to give him the tongue lashing of his life for his inconsiderate behavior to both his neighbors and his dogs. I thought momentarily of calling the police, and asking them to intervene for me. But I didn't. Instead, I wrote a note telling him that his dogs keep me awake at night, and it would be much appreciated if he simply brought them inside with him. And, then, I went and taped it on his door.
In these days of cyber bullying, coarse language and unacceptable behavior in politics, we have the choice as individuals of whether to be part of the problem, or part of the solution. We can give in to our gut instinct to attack, or we can practice the heart-skills of respectful dialog. We can be hateful, or we can be kind. We can put into practice the golden rule of do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It may be old fashioned, but it still applies.
In the Spirit,