If you follow the news or have stood in the grocery line recently, you have probably seen the headlines of celebrity Kim Kardashian being robbed at gunpoint at her apartment in Paris. Despite the traumatic nature of the situation, it didn’t take long for the jokes and hurtful jabs to roll in, from late night comedy shows to social media outlets. The reactions to her ordeal have been shocking to say the least, and have revealed a darker side of our culture.
Kindness, it seems, has taken a back seat in today’s climate. Despite our ever increasing crowded neighborhoods and cities, we have become more isolated than ever before. Whether hurling insults at others safely behind a computer screen or flipping off a driver while sitting alone comfortably in our car, we as a society have become accustomed to getting away with hurtful words and actions without facing the social consequences that would typically follow them if done face to face. Instead of seeing fellow humans, we see actors, politicians, models, Facebook profiles and Twitter accounts. And by separating who they are with what they are, we have extracted their value as human beings.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”. - Plato
In the movie Pay It Forward, 12-year-old Trevor McKinney recognizes the value of kindness and the rippling effect it has when put into motion. The recipients of the kind acts in the film were no saints - they were drug addicts, gang members, and alcoholics. But rather than seeing them as what they were, they were seen as fellow human beings, each struggling with their own demons. And by acting with kindness - reconciliation, forgiveness and sobriety resulted. The fact is that brokenness is a human condition that each and every one of us battle, from the billionaire on Wall Street to the homeless person on the corner. We’re all in this together. And we don’t have to like Kim Kardashian to recognize that if we were in the same situation, we would be terrified too; and I bet you she, like any of us, was thinking about her children and what would happen to them if the gunman pulled the trigger.
When we choose to respond in kindness, no matter whether it be in person, on Facebook or on the road, we begin a ripple effect that cannot be underestimated. Not only does it impact those around us, but we ourselves become happier, freer, and dare I say, more heroic because of it.
Wendy Rhodes, MA, LPCC