I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness. I don’t know if it is really a pagan meditation, but kindness and compassion are values that I seek to cultivate. A friend posted a link to Monica Lewinsky’s Ted Talk. She bravely included her own struggles with kindess as well. One of the points that Lewinsky made is exploring what she calls our humliation culture. She pointed out the 24 hour newcycle and the gossip rags being part of the problem. As a culture, we consider the pain and misfortune of others entertainment. She proposes that these attitudes are in part responsible for cyber bullying. The humiliation of others trumps compassion. A punchline is more important than another human’s life.
One of the changes I’ve made in my life over the past couple of years has been to cease engaging in that behavior myself. I don’t gossip. I don’t find happiness in other’s pain. And I will not spend time around people who do. I have distanced myself from the mean people in my life. The ones who gossip and worse, intentionally cause other people pain. Sometimes I struggle to remember to be kind, to others and to the more distant celebrities. Yet, I am working on it. I think I’ll try and set aside one day a week to post a positive story to Facebook. A kitten rescued by firefighters kind of story.
During my last four years of pratice, I have been considering my values a lot. Kindness and compassion are two values I want to strengthen in myself and the people around me.
I’m often reminded of the movie Holy Smoke. I don’t remember a lot of it; however, I remember as Kate Winslet’s character was pulled farther and farther from her guru, she became cruel. Harvey Kitel’s character actually writes on her forehead, “be kind.”
When I was cruel, I’d often think of that scene, and I was ashamed of myself. I saw how much easier it was to go along with the group I was in – and the times I tried to change the tone, the times I directly said this is cruel, this is mean, can’t this stop – I became the target for the cruelty. So I chose silence.
Now I’m choosing real kindness. I’m not going to silent in the face of cruelty and humiliation. I’ll name it for what it is.