Try To Be A Little Kinder Than Is Necessary

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A few weeks ago I broke up a fight.

Not between my own two boys although I’ve done that plenty but some older ones. A furious knockdown affair, punches thrown, crowd gathered. The lot.

I managed it OK although it took a little doing emotionally. I still just about have the advantage of size and authority with 7th grade boys. But only just.

A couple of days ago, I waded in again. But this time it was online. And it involved adults.

That took a lot more doing.

A situation had developed where someone down on his luck was being publicly criticized. A crowd had gathered. There was little defence.

I read the blog post, the comments and an hour later I fired off a reply more pointed than I have ever given before and in which I admonished both the commenters – there were around eighty comments by this point – and the author of the original post.

These were A-list bloggers in my world. I’m not sure I have much of a blogging career ahead of me in this circle. I’m not sure I care.

In the hour between reading the post and writing the reply, I took my son to his play rehearsal. Anyone who’s had a child in community theatre will know that putting on a play is a huge production involving many players.

Every family is expected to provide, in addition to the actor, significant volunteer effort and a chunk of change.

When we got to rehearsal, I was struck by what I saw.

Someone was struggling to get a rack of costumes from her car. Someone else was putting up a board for us to write our notices. I was walking around looking for a home for my checks. Another person was handling makeup.

All these adults were pulling out the stops to give their children and the community at large an experience. A positive one. One that would build camaraderie, support and a sense of belonging.

The juxtaposition of my online experience and the real world one jarred me and I went home and fired off my riposte. And I’m totally glad I did.

Because, you know, no-one else stepped onto the stage.

There is a moment.

A moment after observation which we have to transition in order to get to action. Sometimes it’s a second or longer. It might last years.

But it’s a moment that needs to be moved through in order for change to occur. Many people don’t cross that bridge.

Transitions are difficult.

They require thought, organization and change. They require stepping up to a challenge, taking responsibility.

And with that, the possibility of failure.

This time of year makes me want to hunker at home, gather my kids, block the outside world out. And bake.

As we head into holiday season, I urge you, please, as the quote from J.M.Barrie that makes up the title of this post says, try to be a little kinder than is necessary. Even when mistakes are made.

Even if you’re hurt.

And, when others can’t do kindness, take a breath and make that transition. You might make a friend for life.

Thank you.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Sonal October 21, 2010 at 4:36 pm

totally loved reading your blog. i wish we didn’t forget to be kind all year through and not only during the holiday season. loved your words – ‘when others can’t do kindness, take a breath and make that transition’ it’s so often that we end up in a situation where it’s easier to get angry than to to step back.
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Alison Golden October 21, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Sonal,

Thank you for dropping by and your kind words. All year is the goal. This time of year, as we head into the holidays, is my favorite. Selfishly, I don’t want it spoiled by unkindess. It is too magical. Every year is precious.

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El Edwards October 22, 2010 at 2:29 am

Good on you Alison! I thought I knew which post you were referring to and having gone over there and read your comment, I’m virtually sending you flowers right now. I don’t want to give any more credence to that particular fist fight because it wasn’t pretty. Just wanted to say how proud I am of you. It can’t have been easy to put yourself on the line like that.

And you’re right, we could all use a little more kindness and empathy, this time as much as any other.
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Alison Golden October 22, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Thanks, El. It’s like you said in your audio, there’s a knock-on effect all-round.

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Minnesota Mamaleh October 22, 2010 at 9:42 am

amen sister, amen. i’m proud of you. even virtually, that takes some courage to do. but it’s a must! especially as we expect kindness and boldness from our children, we have to be willing to do the same. you’re impressive, you know that right?
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Alison Golden October 22, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Thanks, Mamaleh.

You are absolutely right. We need to model boldness and kindness for our children. Good point.

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Mary E. Ulrich
Twitter:
October 22, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Alison, you did a great job of stepping in, being kind, and making the rest of us wish we could take back our comments.

I thought the whole thing was about the general issue and as I watched it deteriorate and become personal, it got embarrassing. Thanks for being the voice of reason.

I think this was a great learning experience for all of us. Your leadership will inspire us all for the next time.
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Alison Golden October 22, 2010 at 8:27 pm

Thank you, Mary, for your gracious comment. I think these extreme situations are learning experiences for us all in many ways. Hopefully now things will move on and up.

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