Friday, March 7, 2014

Kindness–The Ultimate Antagonist

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. - Mark Twain

Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again. - Og Mandino

Those who know me well know that I often end conversations, whether it be in person, on social media or in emails, with one of several phrases:

Create a great day (or weekend).

Create a great day (or weekend) for yourself and others.

Create a great day, because merely having a great day is too passive an experience.

Create a great day for yourself and others, because merely having a great day is too passive an experience.

The phrases often draw interesting responses from people.  As my friend Sara K. noted today on LinkedIn:

I like it when you say that. Makes me feel powerful.

My friend Steve B. had this to say about the phrase:

I like the invitation to create something meaningful. You are giving credit to me for having talent and capability.

My friend Mark C. suggested in fun that perhaps I should offer a different, less intimidating variant such as:

Today is a gift. Don’t screw it up.

However, some people exhibit a different response to the phrases.  As an example, I am inviting a guest writer to share his thoughts on the phrase.  This person, a resident of Calgary, shared his musings on Twitter in crisp, poignant form today in response to my request to create a great day.

Musings of The Mench

Musings of The Mench

Musings of The Mench

As a long time Wall St’er, I’ve never been accused of being a hippie before. Other than that, name calling on Wall St. is quite common although he missed some of our favorite phrases. Smile

As background, I had responded to a remark by Danielle Smith, head of the Wildrose Party and the Official Opposition in the Alberta Legislature, when she claimed that she never blocks anyone on Twitter unless they are disrespectful.  When I remarked that people like myself had been blocked by her for asking for data to support assertions made by her, I was blessed to have an interaction with this gentleman.  After a few exchanges with him, I expressed my usual signoff and the afore mentioned tweets were his response.

Explaining “Create a Great Day”

When I ask people to “Create a great day”, I am sincere about it.  My greatest desire for those around me is that they have the opportunity to create the greatest experience possible for themselves and for others.  Merely “having a great day” implies that one will wait for a good day to arrive (hopefully) whereas creating one increases the odds of experiencing a great day or if a great day is already being experienced, then perhaps there is an opportunity to make it even better. Smile

So my use of the phrase could be considered to be equivalent to Namaste (the divine in me honors the divine in you), God be with you, have fun, have a blast, good luck, best wishes, aloha, serve others, love Life, grab a pizza with friends and whatever else you wish to embrace …. all rolled into one.

Friends of mine observing this interaction today had some interesting things to say about it.  My friend Doug P. had this observation when people were discussing the possibility of an underlying, hidden issue within some people (my emphasis added):

Yes, there are probably some hidden issues. I think those same issues would come into play with "have a good day" if it were not a ubiquitous, empty platitude. Your formulation is uncommon. People have to think a little about it. When angry people think, their anger goes on display.

Some people don’t like kindness or don’t know how to deal with it.

There are, sadly, people who don’t know how to respond to respect, civility and kindness.  Many such people miss some of the greatest joys in Life because they are too busy being unhappy and they are content to bring others down to share in their darkness.  While it is unfortunate that they should be so unhappy, it is unfair and inappropriate that they choose to impose their lack of joy, respect and civility onto others.

They go through Life steamrolling over others until they run into people like me.  Unfortunately for them, while I don’t seek trouble, I do not step aside when trouble is before me, since I know that if I step aside, the trouble that stands before me will continue their agenda of steamrolling and destroying others.  In such situations, some soften their approach when their attempts to intimidate and bully are met with respect and an interest in exchange. Others exhibit behavior like my guest writer above.

Sometimes you find such people in clusters

I find it intriguing that oftentimes when I ask for clarity from the Wildrose Party or I challenge an assertion made by them (requesting data to back up their assertion) I am often beset upon by someone like the person noted above.  Curiously enough, when I challenge other parties for clarity, I am not beset upon in the same way.  It was my experience with such angry people in the past that inspired me to write Anger: Setting Yourself Up For Manipulation.

Now in fairness, I have had some GREAT interactions with passionate supporters of the Wildrose Party, including people like Vitor M., Rick N. and Dave W. (you know who you are) and others.  They are passionate, intelligent people who, while possessing different political beliefs than I do, can listen, share, object, agree and give and take respectfully and intelligently.  They are as passionate about creating a better future for themselves, their families and their province as I am and this, above all, means that we agree and disagree our way towards a common goal – the creation of a greater tomorrow!

But there remains many people out there who are on simmer all the time and when respectful people like me come along with no agenda other than to learn, to share, to verify information (mine and others) and to collaboratively create a better world, they assume there MUST be an agenda and so they go on the offensive.

And sadly, the Wildrose Party, often referred to as the “angry party”, still has a number of such people circulating within and around the Party.  And while there is something to be said about the company that one keeps, the difficulty of being surrounded by such people and not discouraging their attacks on others is this:

Attacking reveals your weaknesses as well as your strengths.
Choose your battles carefully.

The Bottom Line

We must always strive to meet obstinance, intimidation, bullying and the like with as much kindness, civility and respect as we can muster. That being said, for some bullies, turning the other cheek or ignoring their presence will not solve the situation at-hand and may inadvertently condone or strengthen their forceful nature.  Force must sometimes be met with equal force or be gently redirected – always respectfully and kindly.

Eventually the bullies will see a better way and will change.

Or they will pick up their toys (and their negative intentions) and go home.

Or someone else (maybe you) will take their toys (and their power) away from them and send them home.

In all cases, kindness, civility and respect will still carry the day. 

Anger, when redirected, refocused and retasked into energy intent on making positive change can produce great results.  Anger when uncontrolled or misdirected merely hurts randomly or creates confusion.

It’s like splitting an atom.  Doing it well can produce relatively clean energy for a Lifetime. Doing it poorly can kill thousands or millions in a single flash.

It all comes down to personal choice of intention and execution.  Being separated by the distance and perceived anonymity that social media affords should not be a licence or excuse for people to treat each other with less respect than if they were standing face to face nor should one strive to be the twit in Twitter.

In a world of ever-increasing complexity and beauty simultaneously where technology often trumps humanity, I think there is still a strong need for some basic human values.

What do you think?

In service and servanthood.  Create a great day for yourself and others, because merely having a great day is too passive an experience.


PS For those who struggle with others merely because they resent or envy them in some way, I offer this amusing poster from the great folks at

Despair - Maturity

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