I was listening to a very intelligent and fascinating gentleman this afternoon on a podcast and was struck by this sentence that he said as an aside, but I believe is nonetheless true and profound.
“A lot of very unkind people rely on our unwillingness to be unkind.” – Douglas Murray
Another word for an “unkind person” is bully. You know the types; they belittle, criticize, and otherwise harangue the victim until the object of their derision folds, quits, runs away, or cries, “Uncle!” I’m not sure of the origins of that latter exclamation, but it was a thing when I was a kid.
I’ve spent a lot of time in recent years encouraging and inviting people to choose to be kind. We have a choice, right? Column A is the kindness and compassion column, let’s say. Column B is the bully and cruelty column.
Of course we should all want to choose from Column A, where we can find patience, joy, unconditional love, and support. Who doesn’t want those things? All that leads to feeling secure and, yes, happy.
Those who choose from Column B will find a lot of loneliness, disconnectedness, and, well, anxiety and fear. A lot of the opposite of what makes a person feel happy, I think we can all agree.
When bullies accuse us of hatred because we don’t believe everything they believe, when they condemn us, even though we have condemned no one; we just want to live our lives, it’s pretty obvious who the bullies are and who is kind.
If some people are trying to scare us into their way of thinking, and to make us feel selfish or stupid because our values do not align with theirs, guess who the bully is in that scenario.
I want us to be kind to one another in every situation. Not just when we think it’s going to get us something we want. And let’s not be unkind when we hear thought that isn’t aligned with ours; suppression by intimidation or criticism or mocking is never the answer. Things will just disintegrate when bullies won’t listen, or worse, when they just want to shut us up because we don’t agree with them. That unconditional love that’s in the ‘A’ column above is actually what assists us in being kind and patient, and all those other good things.
In our society today, when we stand up for our beliefs, too many time we are labeled unkind, but in much more strident terms. We’re ‘haters.’ We’re intolerant. But I promise you that I can love you as you are, right where you are at this instant, and not judge you. I can just love you and bring you into the circle of love, joy, and support.
But all of us have to stop spoiling for a fight. And we have to admit that different view points, values, and beliefs make neither of us bullies or unkind. The WAY in which we interact is the way we can tell if someone is being kind or unkind; the proof is in the pudding, to use another old saying of mysterious origin.
We shouldn’t judge. Because God tells us in the Bible, “Judge not, lest you be judged.” That’s Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel. God loves us all with an unfathomable love, and only wants what’s best for us. We can disagree on what that happiness looks like, but we should never denounce automatically the happiness we’re all seeking just because we have differing beliefs. .
I still want to choose to be kind because of something else Jesus tells us. It’s in the New Testament; we should always treat others the way we want to be treated. That’s a paraphrase of Luke, 6:31 and Matthew 7:12, respectively: “Do to others as you would have them do to you” and “Therefore all things that people should do to you: do even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”