For some reason I have just experienced a hat trick of meanness (not all directed at me) that has me wondering, What happened to kindness? The provocations were small: a check in the mail that evoked a rude email from a vendor… I mean, genuinely in the mail. Then there was addressing someone by the wrong title.
This all got me thinking about kindness as an indicator that God is in the house. When he is in residence, surely we should be kind. What is it that has given us the notion that we are entitled to all sorts of things? Do we somehow believe that ‘The customer is king’ means we actually are always king? Is it that self-worth schools have bred self-centered graduates? Has high bandwidth immediacy produced high hubris? Has order on demand made us entitled jackasses?
Some of it seems to tie into power trips: I will treat you like dirt to show you who is boss. Other of it might be self-worth turned sinister: I will demand more to demonstrate I am worth more. (I remember the angry traveler who shouted on the plane, “Son of a gun… I am an executive. Treat me with respect.” It didn’t help when one of my colleagues told him to ‘Sit down and shut up.’ They zip-tied Mr Executive and policemen led him off the plane when we landed.) Most of it, I suspect, is our Western habit of thinking, “It is okay to be unkind if I am smart.” Semi-high-IQ people have become low HQ (heart quotient) pains in the neck. Me too. We somehow think that smart beats sincere, competence trumps charity, and efficiency excuses all sorts of ill-mannered behavior.
What happened to kindness? We want it shown to us, certainly. We want upgrades, fast lanes, short waits and quick turnaround. And we want warm smiles, people serving us from the heart, and hospitality that is a conviction not an industry. But where is our kindness in return?
“Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness…” not to mention “self control.” That’s another topic.