Sunday, April 13, 2014

Etiquette Wednesday: On Kindness

The Shins-Simple Song

Etiquette Wednesday comes early! I recently read this article and I can't agree more. I think it might also be my midwest up-bringing, but after spending close to two years out East and now having come back, the difference in civility is like night and day (although it might just be that there's more land area and a lot less people in the Midwest, but I also believe that people are less angry here in general and this personality map agrees). I'm a huge fan of kindness. I enjoy not being thrown out of the way as if I don't matter by some yuppie who is trying to board a subway faster than me, but forgot his manners because he's in a rush to get home (despite the fact that the subway conductors always poke their head out to make sure everyone on the platform gets on before closing the doors). I enjoy people who don't cut me off midway in a conversation because they honestly care to listen and aren't too eager to dismiss my point of view. I enjoy people not texting directly through an entire conversation and people who value the essence of human contact more than the electronic relationships. I enjoy people not prying into my personal life and asking invasive questions as if they automatically have the right to that information (for the record, no one has the right to that information). I enjoy people who are self-aware, sensitive, and kind enough not to be arrogant just to prove a point (the point being "I am better than you" or "I know more than you" or "what you say doesn't matter").

I enjoy being considerate towards others--bending over to pick something up that someone has dropped right in front of me but has their hands full--irrespective of who the person is. Offering someone else who hasn't eaten all day a bite to eat before chowing down myself in front of them. Offering someone who hasn't sat for 10 hours a seat instead of pushing them out of the way to take it. It always perplexes me when I don't see that same commitment to kindness in others. As if the climb up to the top is so much more important than being humane to a fellow person.

Plainly put, I enjoy being kind and I enjoy receiving kindness. I value that in the people whom I choose to spend my time with. One of my closest friends is studying for her Step 1 Boards (the be all end all medical licensing exam) and one thing I adore about our friendship is that regardless of how busy either of us are we can take a few minutes at least to ask how the other person is doing and always add the extra bit of encouragement to carry on (allons-y!) When we have problems, we both try to sincerely help the other person out by our respective strengths (she can offer parallel philosophical insight and I can offer my real-life experiences). That's kindness. The recognition that we are all in this together. Everyone is going through something and it's not our place to judge the degree of what someone experiences, but to offer kindness to them regardless: especially when it seems unfit or when we are at our lowest.

"Whatever you put out there comes back to you in some form eventually."

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