I am older now, with a gray-white beard. I was always polite, with manners to match. But it is only in the last twenty years that I began to consciously focus on kindness. Though I occasionally fail, I would call it a practice. And I will give you an example of what I’m talking about.
I’m not totally convinced about astrology, but I do believe in a “Scorpio tongue” because I have one. The words in the past came fast and too often a bit piercing. I have hurt people in my past, and it has always grieved me. It was never my intention.
So, anyway; years ago, right after 9/11, a man scowled at me and said in an unfriendly way, “Are you a Muslim?” (I am a blue-eyed Norwegian, but I did have a sizable beard.)
“No,” I said and took a step towards him, “I’m an Ex-Lutheran and an Ethical Christian. (I’m not religious, but one who believes in the ethical guidance of the gospels.) What are you?”
With a slight surprise at the turn in the conversation, he said, “I’m Catholic.”
“Oh yeah,” I said. “The priests and the boy-fucking and all that? Were you ever, you know, bent over the altar with your pants around your ankles?”
The conversation he started had gone upside down, and he was now truly uncomfortable. Emotionally, he looked embarrassed about his church.
Like a hermit crab, deep in his shell, he said, “No, we had good priests.”
Then I finished him off.
“Well, maybe you were just too ugly.”
He had been mean to me. I had been mean right back at him. When he slinked off, I had lost the opportunity for communication. He had been willing to talk, but I had blown it. I could have done something good; instead, I just wanted to win. Or, maybe I just wanted him to lose.
That is not me anymore. I know now and have proven it to myself many times since that day: kindness is powerful.