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.
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.