“Make America Kind Again” is taking social media by storm. It’s being hashtagged, tweeted, posted, linked, shared and liked faster than a mouse to d-CON. The idea of it is … well, nice.
Just that: Nice. Therein lies the problem.
There is a HUGE difference between nice and kind. Just as a mouse suffers a slow death from d-CON, so do incredibly rich, tangible and meaningful words when we dilute them with hashtags at a viral speed. Throwing the word “kind” into a trending phrase deflates its true meaning and makes it “nice”. Nice is what my mom calls the plumber after he fixes the toilet – which she paid him to do. Nice is what she calls the hostess at the restaurant who walked us five feet to our table. Nice is what she calls anyone who she has a two-second conversation with on a regular basis who smiles at her. My mom’s not hard to please. She also looks for the good in people. She’s a true blue believer that people are innately decent human beings. She wants the comfort, that we all do, of being around people who make us feel good.
The problem is when everyone is “nice” then no one is kind. Nice is shallow and skims the surface. It’s speedy and dodgy and on the verge of falling apart with one wrong move. Kindness, on the other hand, is deeper and more thoughtful in its action. It’s a slower process that brings people together on an even playing field and transcends language.
When we observe, or even better yet experience, a true act of kindness we know it. We feel it. We can press “mute” and no matter our native tongue, we would still feel the same way: nourished, soulful and grounded. Deep in our souls, on a visceral level. That is kindness in its purest and simplest form.
The catch is that kindness is anything but simple. Anger is easy. Sarcasm is a breeze. Kindness is difficult. We don’t like difficult. We have peaked as a society that wants fast and easy. Fast and easy works – until it doesn’t. It keeps us moving forward at record speed without having to slow down and deal with our own shit. We don’t have time to slow down. Slowing down is the kiss of death. #FOMO has created a sad humor to this acceptance. We want to be everywhere at once so we become nowhere in an instant. Throw a hashtag on it and it’s laughed about instead of worked out. Need attention? Hashtag it. Feel lonely? Hashtag it? Want to punch someone in the face? Hell yeah, HashTAG it! We’d rather buy stock in Band-Aids as temporary cover-ups than take the time to sow the seeds of dealing with our own issues and patiently wait for the remedies to harvest. It takes hesitation and stronger choices. It takes the courage to feel uncomfortable to do what is right. It takes the strength to dig past our shiny public persona to uncover our own shortcomings. It takes the bravery to not say what they want to hear but what is true.
Then, through tears, sweaty determination, and stick-with-it-ness, we find our own way back up to the surface again with a newfound sense of who we are and why we’re here. It takes shedding years of layers of tough, callused skin that have been built up to protect our vulnerabilities and God forbid, fear of showing who we really are. What will they think? Will she still want to hang out with me? Will they still think I’m cool? Will he still love me?
In the literal and timeless trend setting sense:
Niceties are out. Kindness is in.
Instead of putting it out there for others to be kind, how about we drop the hammer into reverse, go inside and be kind ourselves? Take the time to do the work to practice random acts of kindness. Once you put it into practice it becomes clearer and more natural.Take it from me. The more I do it, the more I realize what a punk I am to my husband and mom. Always the closest people to us get our baggage. Not fair. Time to gain perspective and check ourselves before we wreck ourselves. Once you slow down to reflect on whether your action will be done with good intention or be thoughtless, that in itself is an act of kindness. Slowing down gives way to clarity the same way that chaos breeds confusion.
There’s a reason that “actions speak louder than words” is such an overused phrase – because it’s TRUE. 100% truth! When someone says something to you but their behavior isn’t moving to the same beat – we know they’re Milli Vanilli-ing the HELL out of the situation! Their lip-synching is losing fans instead of gaining groupies. You’re not buying anything close to what they’re selling. And the truth is, deep down inside, they’re not buying it either!
Stop talking about it and just do it! Just do it. Show don’t tell. Then something truly freaking awesome happens. People start sincerely being kinder to each other. Know why? Because once we feel it we want to give it. We want to “share” it in the ol’ fashioned sense of the word: through flesh and blood interactions. Knock yourself out. Try it on for size. Resist the need to post anything about it and sit with the pure feeling. Yes, it may be uncomfortable at first, but it’s worth it.
Girl, you know it’s true…ooh…ooh…ooh…