My daughter’s high school seniors always have a motto. It’s supposed to be something to encourage them once they graduate and enter the real world.
This year the motto is “Be Kind.”
That’s all. Be Kind.
I was blown away by the simplicity of this motto. It says it all, doesn’t it?
If everyone were to follow the wisdom of these two tiny words, the world would be a much different place. There would be no mocking of the disabled. No throwing away of women and children. No harsh jokes about people who are not exactly like you. No horrible treatment of animals.
Can you imagine a world that does not have abuse or racism or sexism?
I live in a state, a county, a town, where young men hold open doors for women and the elderly. Men take off their hats when they enter a building. People help you carry groceries to your car. Four-way stops result in traffic jams because everyone is too nice, gesturing for the other car to go first.
But I also live in a state, a county, a town, where black people and Native Americans are marginalized, women are told to stay out of politics and “Let the men folk handle it.” (Those are actual words written to the editor of our paper—by a woman!) Gay people have slurs hurled at them by young white men in pick up trucks holding baseball bats.
Each time a man holds open a door for me I have to bite my tongue from saying, “I am not weak. I can open my own door. I can own land. I can get a credit card in my own name. I can even go into a voting booth and vote now.”
I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s easier to open a door, or give up a seat on the bus than it is to make sure that women get the same pay as men. Or that women get to govern what happens to their own bodies. Or that LGBT people get to marry and have the same rights.
You can take off your hat inside a church, open a door for an older woman, and put your hand over your heart when you say the pledge of allegiance to the American flag, but those are empty gestures unless you also respect every human that shares this planet with you—and that includes people of color and women and Gays. That is what being kind really means.
That’s all. Go out there and Be Kind.