Be The Light: Of Coffee, Kindness, And Connection

I read about the idea first when bikerchick57 posted about it on her blog, Mary J Melange.  Then I read about it again when Susan Scott wrote about it on her blog, Garden of Eden Blog.

I liked what they were talking about so I thought to meself, I’ll do this project, too.  Thus I share with you my first post in a yearlong monthly event called We Are The World Blogfest, the point of which is to highlight positive news stories and present them on the last Friday of the month.

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INTRODUCTION: I initially thought it would easy to find a positive news story online, but I was naive.

Stupidity. Anger. Hostility. Resentment.  Those news stories were everywhere, easy to find even when I didn’t want to find them.

I was ready to give up on this project but decided that I wouldn’t let vitriol win, and eventually I found the following positive news story, therein proving that good news is out there if you intentionally look for it.

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THE NEWS STORY: When I finally found something positive in the news, it was a story about a small personal gesture made by a woman who behaved rudely toward a guy who was just doing his job.  The story, Starbucks barista gets apology note and $50 bill from ‘sassy’ customer, hit home with me for many reasons.

For one thing, I’ve worked as a waitress, which is like a barista in that you have to deal with tired people who just want their food and drink. Now.

Also I’ve been a sassy customer, not in food establishments as much as in retail stores, when I can’t find what I want– and all that I want is, in my mind, so simple and should be there.

And three, I’ve sent apology notes to friends and family when I’ve goofed up. ‘Cuz good manners count.

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COMMENTARY: This was an act of kindness that highlights a common problem that I see in our increasing complicated, impersonal, and fast-paced world.  That is, a lack of patience for not getting what you want, then taking it out on whomever happens to be the messenger.

But what I do not see or read about often enough are apologies expressing a sincere regret for impatient behavior, backed up with something tangible. Hello, President Grant!

So in conclusion, with all due respect to Gibbs Rule #6, I think that in many cases, such as this one between strangers, apologies are a sign of strength that can only make our world a better, less hostile, more connected place in which to live.

And we all want that, don’t we?

What Say We Try Kindness?

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 7.27.09 AMI’ve blogged for a long time.

In fact, while messing around the other day in the Internet Archive Wayback Machine for something unrelated to this blog, I found a logo from 10 years ago for an online group of bloggers who committed to using words kindly.

Although I’d forgotten about it, I was part of that group.

• • •

We were an optimistic bunch.

We sincerely thought that blogging would evolve into a source of respectful understanding and positive connections among people in this world.

I’m charmed by the naiveté of it all.  Especially in light of the past few week’s endless noise on FB and vitriol on Twitter.

But of course those social media didn’t exist when this group formed, so we had no idea about what was coming.

• • •

I rarely long for the good ole days.  

I realize that it’s easy to idealize remembrances of times past, and that these remembrances are often irrelevant when it comes to the issues of the day.

I’m a realist.  What was, isn’t.

But in this one case, regarding social media, I’m going to suggest that stepping back from how we as a society now do things would be a good idea.  The 24/7 insatiable need to be noticed and adored, which is how social media works currently, is not the best way to connect.

In contrast, looking back to 10 years ago, I remember how early blogging worked.  It was a heady experience that focused on authentic connections with other people, rather than the care and feeding of your ego.

• • •

I know that I’m preaching to the choir here.

And that my small voice of reason is going to be drowned out by the selfie-absorbed, the narcissists, the haters, the trolls.  But occasionally I like to believe that I might influence someone in a positive way that encourages him or her…

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 11.05.09 AMTo re-connect with their heart.

To cool it with the focusing on what’s wrong with other people.

And instead, perhaps even– to say something kind to, and about, someone else.

Kindness Deconstructed, A Fun With Foibles Post

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 9.27.13 AM
John the CincyZooLion is not pleased that Ally Bean was dissed. *growl*

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I’VE ALWAYS OPERATED UNDER THE ASSUMPTION that kindness is a good thing.

This, of course, is a simplistic point of view.  One that along the way has gotten me into more trouble than you might imagine, allowing me to perfect my eye-rolling technique.

From what I can tell, if someone, for some reason, does not believe that they deserve kindness, then anyone who shows them kindness becomes a problem.

And it’s time for a squabble.

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TO WIT, LOOKING OUT MY WINDOW I remembered that a former neighbor here in the midwest, who now lives on the other side of the country, used to love this time of year.

So, spontaneously, without any expectation of reciprocity, I sent her a fast, sincere thinking-of-you email.

A random act of kindness.

A note saying someone cares about you. 

A positive little message. 

# # #

WITHIN THE HOUR SHE WAS ON the phone, not calling to thank me, but to tell me how bad she felt about herself after receiving my kind email.

That I made her feel like a failure because she never thought to send anyone a thinking-of-you email.

And why did I bother with this email, anyhow?  Was I trying to make her feel guilty?

What was my real motivation?

And my only response, which was the truth but it seemed to irritate her, was that I was thinking. of. her.  She liked this time of year in the midwest and I remembered that.

I was just saying “hello.”  Nothing more.

*eye roll*

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WHILE THE GOLDEN RULE MAKES SENSE to me, I’ve come to discover that occasionally doing unto others what you would want for yourself, can lead to resentment among others.

Somehow, it would seem that some people with low self-esteem, or perhaps the inability to understand generosity of spirit, misinterpret kindness to mean manipulation.

Or showing off.

Or sanctitude.

Or, I guess, some other off-putting behavior, sneaky and weird, that doesn’t say friendship to them.

Meaning that, if you’re primed to believe that the golden rule is suspect behavior, then my kind email marked me immediately as an untrustworthy human being.

Twisted logic, huh?  Go figure.

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“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”

~ SIMONE WEIL

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Random Act Of Kindness Or Minor Misdemeanor?

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.  Psalm 37:8

If a bumper sticker makes fun of, puts down, accuses, antagonizes, rejects, hates, pees upon, or whines about <any topic you can think of>, I’ve seen it on a vehicle in the last few weeks.

To say that I’m tired of these hostile, rude bumper stickers on vehicles would be an understatement.  Really people, get a clue.  Your bumper stickers are not contributing to the national discourse.  They add nothing of value to society.  They are a distraction while driving.  And they’re just plain tacky.

Nope.  I don’t like ’em one bit.  Which got me thinking…

How do I make this situation better?

And here is my solution: a mischievous plan that is delightful in its subtlety and entertaining in its message.  *bwha-ha-ha*   A plan so ingenious that I’m surprised that no one has thought of it before.  A plan so clever that it made the Lawyer Bean laugh and promise to provide legal counsel for me should there be a need.

First, I’d buy a couple dozen of this positive, upbeat bumper sticker and keep them in my car.  Only a cretin could not be charmed by the message: “wag more bark less.”

Then when I see one of these previously mentioned annoying bumper stickers on a vehicle in a parking lot, I’d wander over to the vehicle with one of my more encouraging bumper stickers in hand.  Making certain that I was unnoticed, I’d slap my sweet little oval sticker over the offensive, negative bumper sticker.

And *bam* just like that I’d have quietly neutralized the negativity and made the world a better place– while simultaneously ensuring that I receive one more brownie point in heaven.  Talk about your win-win situation!

So what do you think, gentle readers?  Good idea?  Couldn’t possibly be an act of vandalism with a court date and a fine, could it?  And if so, how much do you suppose I’d have to pay for refusing to let stupid get the last word in– or on, as the case may be?