“Kindness has no religion. Religions are like narrow tracks but kindness is like an open sky.” – Amit Ray, Nonviolence: The Transforming Power
It was ingrained in me since I was a child that the right thing to do is give a smile and a kind word to everyone you meet. I watched my father in his big city, Vice President of Caesar’s Palace job be just as kind, using the exact same tone, inflections, manner, in fact the same personality with valet parkers, hotel operators and waitresses as with his bosses and high roller clients. He was himself always and he was forever generous with his being.
I inherited many traits from my gregarious father and Saints neither of us have ever been. I can be a steamroller like he often was and am striving to overcome that unappealing quality. The good news is we both knew the difference and when we behaved like jerks it felt wrong. Which comes to the question, does it ever feel good to people who chronically act unkindly to their fellow man? We make excuses like, “Oh, he is just cranky,” or “She just has a lot on her mind.” A German director once screamed at me, “I’m sorry I don’t have time to be nice!” When is that ever an appropriate response? I say never.
We most certainly will have dealings with such unfortunates, they are all the hell over, but we don’t live in the middle of Manhattan where we have no choice who bumps into us at any given moment. Versailles is small enough that we can find the most pleasant pharmacist, Cornerstone is my choice, the friendliest check out person, everyone at our local Kroger’s seems to constantly give it their all to be helpful, and the sweetest printing establishment, Versailles Printing is one such place where you can always count on a smile.
What of those people we interact with that are persistently curmudgeons, repeatedly quick and hurried and act as though we are irritating to deal with? I say we lean with more gratitude toward the folks that try to make life easier and not more difficult. We all have enough to cope with such things as unhealthy family dynamics, sudden illnesses and deaths, passion pursuits and financial headaches that we should count as precious the things we do have control over, such as who we choose to have in our daily lives.
As Kate from my book club said and I am paraphrasing, “It always come back to humility. Humility is very important. No one appointed me an authority and it isn’t my job to tell anyone what they should believe even if I disagree.” Those are wise words indeed but life is awfully short and somewhere along the line I turned the corner of, “Oh that’s just how they are,” and entered the lane of, “That’s their problem and I don’t have to make it mine.”
I want to thank my father and mother, my grandmothers and grandfathers for giving me a shining example of how to treat people even if you are not in the mood because that’s just the way we do. As Mort Dixon and Harry M. Woods wrote so perfectly in 1931, “You keep goin’ your way, I’ll keep goin’ my way. River stay away from my door. I just got a cabin, you don’t need my cabin. River stay away from my door. Don’t come up any higher, I’m so all alone. Leave my bed and my fire, that’s all I own. I ain’t breakin’ your heart, don’t go breakin’ my heart. River, Stay away from my door.”