I was driving today and noticed the cars on the opposite side of the highway were stopped.
I didn’t think much of it except to mutter a silent “thank you” that it wasn’t me stuck in traffic. I quickly forgot all about it.
A few hours later I glanced at the tv screens while on the treadmill at the gym. The highway had been closed for two hours in that direction due to a fatality earlier this morning.
I closed my eyes and said another silent “thank you”, this time for sparing my own family and loved ones.
I continued to read the words on the screen as the newscasters interviewed folks who had been stuck in traffic due to the accident. I wanted to read the woman’s name who had lost her life. I wanted to send some form of acknowledgement to the Universe for this person who was no longer with us.
This is what I read as the words on the screen rolled by:
“Two hour delay”.
“Late to work”.
“What a hassle”.
I never once saw or heard mention of the woman who had passed away.
What are we doing to each other?
I know that the news managers edit things how they chose, so I really don’t know the context of the things being said by the onlookers. I also know it can be a big pain and, yes, a hassle, to be stuck in traffic.
I also think there is a bigger issue that may have been missed in the news report.
A woman died.
The people stuck in traffic may not have known that, but the news sure did.
Yet they focused only on the “hassle” of the situation.
Can we please, please practice being kind to each other?
I think it’s become harder to see each other as individuals who need kindness because it’s become so easy to close our eyes and turn inwards, away from our fellow human beings. We talk to people through the safety of screens and tablets and posts and hashtags. I do it as much as the next person, and there is something very safe about it.
I can spout love and kindness and share images of beautiful quotes, but can I really turn to the person next to me in the coffee line and say, “Go ahead. I’m not in a hurry.”
Can I turn to the frazzled mom in the parking lot and say, “Let me return your cart for you. You have your hands full.” (Side note: someone did this for me recently at the grocery store and it was amazing.)
Can I let my husband sleep in when he’s had a long week at work even though it’s his turn to get our daughter in the morning?
Can I ignore the rude email I received when I actually want to respond just as rudely?
Yes, I can probably do each of those things.
But will I the next time they happen?
I don’t know what specific actions we can take when it seems like there is so much hurt in the world. I know it can feel overwhelming and it seems there are just too many causes, too much pain and too few ways to help.
There are times I feel paralyzed by the sheer volume of hurt in the world, and the inadequacy of my own abilities to change it.
No, I can’t specifically help every group of people that need more in this world. I can’t protect every helpless animal from pain, or every abandoned child from sadness.
I can’t be responsible for the entire world, as much as there are times I want to be.
What I can do is soften my heart, come out from behind my screen and BE KIND in the world I am inhabiting in this moment.
When I don’t know what else to do, I know I can chose kindness.
I could not have stopped the accident this morning. I could not have changed what the news reported. I would not have written a condolence letter to the family if I knew the woman’s name or their information.
I just wanted to join the people on the tv screen in acknowledging a life was lost. I wanted more than a news report about being late to work.
I don’t know what my small actions can do.
I don’t know what your small actions can do.
But I tremble at the thought of a world that combines MY kindness with YOUR kindness with THEIR kindness, and then combines them to become OUR kindness.
Wouldn’t that be something?
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