Sunday, March 13, 2011

My Pink Dot

Another post on Alex Blackwell’s The BridgeMaker was the question, “What is the kindest thing you have ever done?” Hmmmm. I definitely don’t like to toot my own horn. No, no and another helping of no. I find it so boring; listening to someone talk about how wonderful they are, or about the wonderful things they have done for others. My answer that day was, “Be humble.”

Sometimes not talking about the kind things you do, or have done is a kindness in itself. No one likes a self absorbed person whose only reason for doing kind things is so they can report them to a room full of people. In my mind I’m just thinking (unkindly, oops), “Watch out for your arm, you might hurt it patting yourself on the back!”

My style is talking about what we can do to spread kindness, giving people ideas to inspire them to want to go out into the world and “Be the Change You Want to See in The World,” as Gandhi so eloquently wrote. What does it mean to “Be the Change?” In group settings these days I often hear people talking about one of the same social problems; an overall lack of kindness, manners and respect out in the world today. Talking about it is one thing. If you want something to change, you have to be willing to “Be the Change” and decide you are going to fix it. “Fix it all…by myself,” you are wondering? I know, I know. Breathe. I turn into a dithering loon myself, so I know. How about starting with some thing? Or a few small things each day?

When I decided to make a conscious effort to “Be the Change” I knew I couldn’t do it all or fix it all. But, I hoped my small, independent actions would make a difference in the lives of who I came into contact with, hopefully causing a domino effect and spreading kindness further down the line. I started simply by making sure that every single person I came into contact with was treated with the utmost kindness, dignity and respect. I actually thought I was already doing that, but I decided to really pay attention to my behavior and those around me and “step it up a notch.”

You know, I tout humility and today I think I’m the antithesis of it because for the sake of the blog, I’ve got to go out on a limb and share some of my personal stories. When I’m done writing, I promise to be super extra triple humble again.

I’ve talked about being kind out in the world to those who serve you in my blog, but are you doing it? How are you doing it? What about seeing others being mistreated, the old schoolyard misdeed that you witness and standby without intervening or doing anything about? That’s a category of unkindness and it has to stop too. I’d finally had it with unkindness and decided no one was ever going to be mistreated on my watch again. I was in line at a local store and I could tell the woman in line ahead of me was obviously in a bad mood by the way she was huffing and puffing and shifting from one foot to another. It wasn’t even her turn before she started in on the cashier, spouting off her mouth and speaking unkindly to her. Ok, I was ready. I said, “How dare you. Stop talking to her like that, can’t you see she is trying her best?” Mrs. Snottypants looked at me aghast and said, “WELL! I’m in a hurry, it’s my lunch hour and I only have so much time!” I looked aghast back at Mrs. Snotts and told her, “WELL! You should go shopping when you have enough time to behave properly and treat people kindly!” She mumbled something incoherent and then shut up. Job done. It’s only an example of the kind of stuff we see all the time and we don’t respond. I’m ready now though. These Snottypants people better learn some manners.

Have you been in a group situation in a restaurant where one person in the group is being particularly rude, condescending or overly demanding of the Server? It’s embarrassing, isn’t it? I’ve been there. Friends and I have discussed this and wondered the best way to handle it. We’ve tried to be the Damage Control Group, be the overly-nice ones to make up for the rude friend in the group. Have you ever, at the end of the meal, slipped a Server extra money to make up for Customer Rudeness the Server had to put up with? I have. This is another situation that needs to stop. We need to politely stop this at the beginning of the meal so the Server doesn’t have to endure this. It’s another form of childish playground taunting that we are all sitting back and watching, doing nothing. We are adults, not on some playground, yet are being bullied, and watching bullying in action by an obnoxious, rude person because we are not standing up to a person and saying, “Hey, enough of your bullying, rude and overly demanding behavior!" The Server doesn’t deserve it, neither do we. Aren't those of us who are making an extra monetary contribution for Customer Rudeness tired of it?

Kindness can be helping to correct unkindness. Helping to correct condescending, rude, and inappropriately demanding behavior. So while you are out spreading kindness, you also need to be a troubadour and help others by correcting them when they are out of line. We need to be teachers. There aren’t enough of us out there. If you are making the commitment to build kindness, you also have to include correcting unkindness by doing something about it when you see it happening. Every single time.

What about when someone treats you poorly, what then? Aren’t you worth being treated like gold? Absolutely, all the time! I demand it in my home and I hope you do too. My circle of friends is small, but it’s that way for a reason. I don’t waste time with people unless they treat me really well. Sometimes family and friends can mistreat you and it’s your job to set the standard for what kind of behavior you will accept from them so they will understand how they are to treat you. As much as I love my family and friends, there have been times I’ve had to sit down and have serious discussions with some of them when they’ve treated me in a way I do not find acceptable. This is never easy, but doing the right thing is often very difficult and requires thought, prayer, patience and strength.

Rather than concentrating on the negative though, it’s much more fun to concentrate on the positive and the ways you can contribute to making the world a kinder, better place. One of my favorite programs which feels to me like the ultimate kind thing you can do while you are alive, is participating in the Organ Donor Program. By having the small pink dot affixed to my driver’s license, I’ve already put into motion a plan, which in the event of my passing donates all my organs to whoever needs them. I hope my organs will save the lives of many people, like the heart of Marcus Quarles whose heart gave my Dad 7 more wonderful years with us. Kindness can be donating your organs and saving lives after you pass away. What a beautiful and inspiring thought. This is the sort of “kind” that I’ll stand on a tabletop and shout it out for the world to hear and pat myself on the back until my arms are black and blue. Go Organ Donor Program. Get your Pink Dot.

So Alex, to answer your question, it’s my Pink Dot.

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