People can be cruel.
I am not exempt.
In elementary school I was one of many who teased a boy named Andrew Fisher. The mysterious boy who lived with his grandparents, wore black, thick rimmed glasses, and we thought did not shower. He was strange in character and he was vulnerable. I never did learn his tale outside of my story that he was the one that did not fit in.
I think in elementary school I “beat up” Andrew and once another girl on the concrete playing area. Why would I have done that? My own fears, my inability to contain what was inside of me, or the exploration of power?
For me the power lies in the truth that I was mean. I can justify a nine year old girl’s behavior with development, and a biology of survival, but I don’t want to. I do not need to anymore.
A man tells tells the mother of his child that their girl is better off without her. In the mother’s sickness she lost the ability to care for her beloved girl and so in her perfect mothering she went away for a time, maybe more. One could defend the father if they chose. Maybe it is his own fears, his own exploration of power to feel good enough. Did it change anything inside of him to sour and salt this woman he once created life with? Did his unkindness bring healing to anyone?
A child less than five years in age asked me why my special daughter was ugly. We thought we were so innocent walking through the school grounds before the stinger hit us. We did not know to be guarded. I was the adult but it did not matter. I felt hurt and a flavor of contempt. I had to hold my tongue, my tears, and my reactions so I could remember that this young child had not developed her understanding of humanity on a broader scope.
Tweens explore the delicate balance between playful jest and bullying. They gang up on other kids, singling one out in person or through a world of cyber-communications. Is it developing brain chemistry or low self-esteem, or trying on what is acceptable in the world? What is our internal barometer of empathy? And will we discover it on our journey before we inflict devastation?
A father refuses to speak to the mother of his children. Why? Because she is no more? Because his stories have made her all bad? His new wife vomits hostility that must stem from her own stress, anxieties, and psychic spaces, yet it is not sustainable. It is as though one woman is the fuel for their fire of insidious unkindness and not so subtle aggression. Does that really serve them?
People toss their cigarette butts where they choose, litter the sidewalk, and splash graffiti on someone else’s walls. I want to understand the lack of belonging to a community that one would disrespect it so.
And far harder to comprehend, let alone explore are the atrocities of sadistic violence, or corrupt politics. In war, in poverty, within families there is an absolute forgetting of humanity.
How do we grow our capacities to meet the little edges in our life so that when the bigger ones rub we stay kind, or at least in the consciousness of subjectivity. Sentient beings are not objects. They, like the Earth are living and breathing.
How do we become schooled on our own plight so we are not one that perpetuates misfortune? What are the ways we train to be powerful from a place of inner knowing, and compassion rather than becoming one who terrorizes? Will we start to educate our youth, and our lovers, and our kin on what living generously means?
People can be cruel.
I am not exempt.
What does it means to live with kindness?
I am willing to be with the vulnerable inside myself that wants to react, and to personalize, and to resist. I am courageous enough to know that I will stumble, perhaps greatly. With support there is a gentleness to even my most uncomfortable thoughts, and fumbles in this living, breathing practice. It can feel like a madhouse at times, and maybe that is because through some lens it is. Devotion to a highest truth of freedom can nourish my own lunacy that returns me to another name for Source- Kindness.