I’m typing this as I sit in Newark airport waiting for a friend. An elderly woman with several shopping bags sat next to me and plugged her phone in. She then laid out a blanket and I had a choice: to assume positive intent or expect the worst. And then she took out her Bible and began to pray. I see you, universe.
The world we live in is one where you have to be on guard. I took the train into the airport and walked right into the baggage area. No security. I’ve literally been thinking about this since it happened last week.
So how do you do both? How do you stay vigilant, but kind? How do you not rush to judgements but also know when to trust your gut. I don’t know. And it’s the people who are the most threatening that need the most kindness. Look at the mass shootings over the last few years. These shooters are the ones we as a society missed. They fell through the cracks. The majority had some type of documented mental illness or behavioral issue. I’m not saying just be nice to someone and their illness magically goes away. But listening, caring and even a simple smile can change the trajectory of someone’s day.
What if they don’t want your kindness?! I smile at people on the subway and they look at me like I’m crazy likely because no one has ever done that to them before. Behavior is learned. If you never experienced kindness, or love, or encouragement or empathy before, how are you supposed to react? We as the human population have to get better at talking to people who are different from us. Different does not only mean look different, but have different experiences, beliefs and values.
Given it’s Lent and like the good Catholic girl I am, I’ve really been thinking about what should I do more of for the next 40 days. I’m not a fan of giving something up, but rather would want to take action. So, I am committing to being more kind, to show more understanding, especially to those closest to me. It’s interesting that I can smile at strangers and strike up conversations, but I don’t do that with those in my inner circle. Something to ponder for the next 40 days.
I’m really interested on people’s perspective here. There’s such a fine line given the world we live in today. Please share your thoughts respectfully in the comments section.