Monday, December 16, 2013

A Little Weak in the Kindness Department

Working over forty hours a week in retail this time of year has done two things for me.  It has reminded me why I left many years ago for an office job.  And it has given me the strong impression that many people believe that kindness is a weakness.  Something they can't respect.  They seem to think that when they encounter a nice person, they need to exploit that supposed weakness for all it's worth.  Whether it's getting something for free by bullying someone at a small shop or thinking that your overly nice supervisor doesn't deserve any respect and their requests for you to do your job should be ignored at all costs.

I find this behavior reprehensible, but also baffling.  Even more so that some people seem to glory in the results of their negative actions.  Like they've just won some kind of game instead of made another person utterly miserable.

Look, exploiting people's weaknesses and/or abusing their kindness is no way to live.  Whether it's the Christmukkah season or any other time of year.  This is not "the order of things."  When you are unkind or act like a bully it does not make you the stronger person, it makes you the shittier one.  And I'm not saying that you can't stand up for yourself or that there aren't times when you need to be a little less nice to get through something.  But the strongest people I know are the ones who can keep a smile on their face no matter what people throw at them.  The ones who can make it through this season still feeling good about themselves and still treating everyone around them with a gentleness that seems forgotten in the pursuit of finishing a shopping list.

I have a hot Italian/Scottish temper, but even I have learned to blow off steam when and where it can effect no one else adversely.  Sure, I have my moments - we all do and that's okay, but overall I don't see the benefit in being an asshole.  So you got a 50% discount on that scarf you wanted because you were a total dick to that salesperson?  Was it really worth that money to ruin someone else's day?  Is that salesperson not a human being to you?  Do any of us truly believe that treating people poorly doesn't have an impact on the world we live in?

Even if you don't celebrate Christmas, this is outwardly a very happy time of year.  We get to gather with people we don't often get to see.  Be extra snuggly with the people we love because the cold warrants it.  There are twinkling lights everywhere, happy music, brightly colored decorations and we're all a little crazy.  But we can enjoy the crazy together.  It's a hell of a lot better to be kind and let things roll off your back and smile even in the face of the bitterest adversary than it is to engage in the same kind of behavior.

So if you are a truly strong, amazing person, you will smile even when you don't feel it, you will say nice things to people whether you know them or not, you will find a way to deal with anger and frustration that doesn't make everyone within a mile run for cover.  And when you most want to tell someone off, you might stop to consider that you don't know what they're going through.  You don't know their story.  Maybe all they need is to be shown a bit of kindness.  And even if your kindness doesn't seem to change them, at least their lack-of didn't change you.

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