It takes courage to be kind when others are cruel.
Yesterday I went with my family and some friends to see A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, starting Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers.
You should see it. It’s a beautiful film about the relationship between Fred Rogers and a writer named Lloyd Vogel. There are so many great messages in the movie but one that truly struck me is the power of kindness. Even in the face of meanness and harsh words, Fred Rogers seemed to always respond with kindness.
For me, responding with kindness isn’t always easy. When harsh or thoughtless words are spoken to me, I tend to respond first by shutting down, then by getting angry (which is usually just covering the hurt) and then with sadness. When I have worked through those feelings, I want to mend the relationship.
But what happens when the cruelty escalates or the harsh words continue? What if attempts to mend the relationship are met with the silent treatment?
This is my dilemma today. One option would be to return meanness with more meanness. But that doesn’t make me feel very good about myself.
So instead, I am going to take a moment to think about Mr. Rogers, and respond with kindness. That doesn’t mean I am going to just forget about the unkind words. It doesn’t mean I am going to cut off the person who spoke them. But I can no longer allow my precious time and energy and potential for making my world a little better if my mind and heart continue to be filled with questions about whether those words are a reflection of who I am.
I can’t spend anymore sleepless nights. I can’t let my hurt come out in more harsh words toward the people I love most. Today I will find the courage to respond with kindness, toward the ones who love me, the ones who need my kindness and the ones who must be hurting themselves to be acting in such cruel ways.
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