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Failures of Kindness



“What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded … sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.” ~ George Saunders

  Kids are heading back to school this week and as they head out the door I ask you to remember to tell them to be kind.
  Let’s be honest, we live in a society where it is very easy to forget that you are not, in fact, the center of the Universe. Selfies, Blogs, Social Media sites all lead us to focus on ourselves constantly. So as your kids head back to school, please remind them that the thoughts and feelings of others do matter – that while they have the right to stand up for themselves, they don’t have the right to do it cruelly.
  The anonymity of the internet in general makes it easy to forget that there are real people out there with real feelings, fighting real battles and struggling daily. There is no need to add to that my being callous and mean to those you somehow feel are lesser than you.
  You never really know for sure the impact your words and actions can have on people. You never know when that nerve you choose to needle may be the nerve that breaks someone down.
  You also never know when your nice actions, that support someone and raise him or her up, may be the action that saves their life.
  I mentioned last week how developing, hormonal teenage brains can lead to less than stellar decisions. This is another reason to go the extra mile in trying to be nice to people.
  According to the CDC, each year, approximately 157,000 youth between the ages of 10 and 24 receive medical care for self-inflicted injuries at Emergency Departments across the U.S.
  How many of these kids just needed someone to talk to? To hear them? To be nice to them?
  Now listen, I’m not so naïve as to think everyone is going to get along with everyone, all the time. Nor am I deluded enough to think that being nice to everyone all time is feasible.
  What I am deluded enough to think is that it is possible to try.
  It is possible to shut up and think about what you are going to say before you say it.
  It is possible to remember that old adage “sticks and stone may break my bone but words will never hurt me” is not only a lie, but a ridiculous one that allows people to ignore the fact that their words can have a huge impact on someone. That words not only hurt, but can destroy.
  It is possible to understand that it is ok not to like someone – it’s not ok to use that dislike as an excuse to be nasty.
  It’s possible to remember that your kids learn from you. If you go out of your way to be nicer to people, they will too. Remember, “If a child lives with friendliness, they learn that the world is a nice place in which to live.”
  So as your kids head out to school this year, please remind them that their words and actions impact those around them whether they realize it or not and no one ever suffered because they were nice to someone and no one was ever injured because someone was nice to them.
  “Be kind to people and don’t judge, for you do not know what demons they carry and what battles they are fighting.”