I’ve been thinking lately about kindness. Actually about how unkind we are in our public and political discourse. I’m writing this post in the USA, but it is certainly true in other nations as well. Yesterday, with the graves of the Normandy D-Day invasion in the background, the US President in an interview savaged his political opponent. This after giving a speech filled with honor and words of respect. Of course the political other side had their own choice words for the President.
We are a culture filled with words and actions of unkindness, marked by our lack of generosity to those especially we disagree with. I have noticed it also on the road driving, how impatient people are, how unkind to those around them even by their lack of basic courtesy in their driving habits. This lack of kindness fills our homes, our offices, our churches. It results in labeling, name-calling, and a daily irritation that follows us like a cloud.
For those of us who are leaders in any field, it must start with us. Are we living a generous life? I don’t mean with our money, if we have any. I mean with our words, our attitudes, our thoughts. Are we kind to those that serve us at restaurants? Yesterday I was at a restaurant, and the server forgot to bring my beverage order. Everyone else had received except me. By grace, I was able to gently remind her about it, rather than getting upset and blaming. Unfortunately I don’t aways respond so well!
This is what particularly hits me with the behavior of our political leaders in the US in this season. This is not, unfortunately, a unique aspect to the Trump era of politics. It has happened before and will happen again. But it seems to have taken such a dark edge, with a President that routinely tweets his frankly extremely ungenerous thoughts about others. Including often giving them names. Why do we tolerate this? I’m not sure what if anything can be done, as he is not willing to give up his Twitter account or let a Chief of staff monitor it.
But what example is set from the highest political office in the land? No matter your political leanings, are you ok with it? Or do you find yourself wanting to resist, to protest? I know both sides are not generous, but is there any way from either side to tone it down?
How about some simple decisions in leading our life: 1) we will stop all name calling of any kind 2) we will stop labeling people in a derisive way 3) we will work harder each day to speak words of kindness and respect to those around us 4) we will drive on the roads with more patience, controlling our words and tempers if someone makes a mistake around us
These are some of my decisions of what I want to keep working on. What are yours? We may not be the President of our countries, but we can work on our own lives, our own discourse.
We have a long ways to go.
One thought on “How low will our public discourse go? The importance of kindness.”
Thank you Steve. I so concur, and want to follow in this path that you are trailblazing. Or, perhaps just returning to on a better well worn path shared over the ages by so many.
Jesus taught clearly, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Desmond Tutu points to African traditional wisdom where the concept echos in – Ubuntu – “You can’t be human all by yourself.” And, on the El Camino Santiago, we call our “Buen Camino” to our fellow pilgrims. So, we can carry on the “Good Way”.
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