Kindness might save all of our lives

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 29, 2018

What’s the difference between kind and nice? They are words that don’t seem to be in our vocabulary much these days.

All my life, my parents, my teachers, ministers and assorted self-help books, said that being nice and kind is part of being a good human. Is that no longer true in 2018?

I know I’ve experienced moments of both kind and nice in my life. They mattered because I remember most of them.

As I thought about this, I decided to explore the definitions of those words. According to Mr. Webster, kind means — “warm-hearted, friendly or generous in nature.” Nice means — “enjoyable, pleasant, appealing or attractive. Courteous and polite.”

Makes sense that they go hand-in-hand. If you are warm-hearted and friendly then you are probably courteous and polite. Boy, we could use more courteous and polite.

It seems instead we have a lot of mean and rude. Mean as in — “marked by pettiness and ill will, malicious.” That, I think, is the forerunner of rude, defined as — “primitive and uncivilized, ill-mannered and discourteous.”

I suppose if people are petty and malicious in nature, they are ill mannered and discourteous in action. Like I’ve experienced nice and kind, I’ve met my share of mean and rude. Heck, I’ve been my share of mean and rude.

Another thought came to me — Being kind and nice is not hard. We just have to choose that behavior over being mean and rude. It’s a choice.

As I sipped coffee and looked at the sunshine filtering through the trees, I took a moment to recall acts of niceness and kindness. Interesting the ones I remembered.

There was the afternoon when I was alone in a house I’d rented in Andalusia. I was a newly divorced single mother and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alone and kinda lost.

I was on the verge of tears when I heard a knock on my door. A smiling neighbor stood on the steps with a cake in her hands. We didn’t have much of a conversation. She simply handed me the cake and said, “Welcome to the neighborhood.”

In that moment, it felt like she might have saved my life. I bet she never realized how much her kindness meant. I do because I never forgot it.

Then there was the time I tried to rescue a partially paralyzed kitten. For a week, I struggled to keep it alive even though the veterinarian told me it was most likely a lost cause. When I finally accepted the inevitable and allowed the doctor to end its suffering, I was heartbroken.

A few days later, I received a sympathy card signed by every person who worked in that vet’s office. Maybe they do that for everyone, but it felt personal and special to me. My heart feels as full remembering that card as it did the day I received it.

Those are two of many acts of kindness that touched my life. In fact, every time I remembered one, another quickly followed that memory.

I realize there are acts of meanness and rudeness stored somewhere in my memory, but they didn’t come up as easily. They are there more as a dark feeling than specific memories. That’s probably not true for everyone because some folks experienced far more nastiness than I experienced in my 60 plus years.

Still as I sat with these thoughts, there was a message for me, one I think everyone could use right now.

Being kind and nice creates a lasting impression. Being kind and nice can change the energy of an entire day for someone. It might even save a life or at least feel to someone like it saves a life.

We don’t have to agree with everyone we met. We don’t have to become friends with every person who crosses our path.

We can choose to be kind and nice to each other. And, that just might save all of our lives.



Nancy Blackmon is a former newspaper editor and a yoga teacher.