This is so amazingly true. Everyone is experiencing life, and you may or may not know why they’re doing what they’re doing.
I try to remember this when I get cut-off in traffic. Maybe, just maybe, the person in front of me got a call from their daycare, and they’re rushing to get a sick child. Or they can’t afford to be late to work because they’ll lose their job, but their kids’ bus was late picking them up. Or they just learned their mother died and aren’t thinking straight.
It’s possible they’re just a jerk. Looking at you man in the red pickup truck that made a left turn in front of me and flipped me off. I almost didn’t stop in time, and pickup truck versus minivan isn’t a pretty sight for either of us. It took me the next half-hour to stop shaking.
But maybe, just maybe, there is something else going on.
We’ve all been there. We’ve all done it. But it’s different when we do it, right?
Except, it’s not.
I was at FedEx the other night to pick-up a package, and a woman was there with two little kids. The boy was being especially difficult, and I could see she was trying really hard to keep them under control. Rather than glaring at her, I smiled at the kids, waved at the little girl, and told her my daughter loved My Little Ponies, too.
The girl was wearing a MLP shirt.
Completely eased the tension, and it cost me nothing. I was able to continue to ignore the boy as the girl talked all about ice skating and Pinkie Pie. The boy was still surly, but he was coming around for his mom and sister.
No idea what happened in any of their day, but I certainly didn’t need to make it worse even if I was getting frustrated with FedEx as it took them fifteen minutes to find my package. A smile and a nice word made everything more pleasant.
I’m not sure why we don’t practice it more. Why it’s so much “cooler” to come back with some snarky comment than it is to show kindness. Why we’ve equated kindness with weakness.
Kindness is not weakness.
It actually took me some time to realize I was making this mistake, and I almost completely rewrote a character because she was kind.
Yeah, I know. I’m not immune to culture either.
Part of the reason why the hero fell in love with this character was her kindness, that inner light that refused to dim despite everything she’d been through.
I was going to change that because I mistakenly assumed that made her a weak character. It didn’t. It was part of who she was, and it made her no more weak than my smart-mouthed character in a separate book. Different, but not weak.
What do you think? Do you equate kindness with weakness? Do you try to see the other side, even if it is a jerk in a red pickup truck that almost killed you both? Perhaps you’ve known a jerk in a red pickup yourself?