13 January, 2015

Hello Monday: Be Kind to One Another



Hello friends,

I took a much needed day off from the computer yesterday. So the Monday round-up is coming today.

I have been thinking a lot about my efforts to DO. To only commit to things that I can give myself wholeheartedly to, to learn to say no and to build boundaries. It’s hard. As a woman I was taught that “no” is a bad word. It’s not about me. I’m a giver. But the ability to guard how I spend my time can be wonderfully liberating.

It is one day at a time. But I am learning to stand up for myself. I am learning to shed guilt that is not mine to carry. To try and be kind and generous verses judgmental and better than. In the last week I have been confronted by two articles with grace at their core. And they have really left me thinking.

The first came from my mother, who sent me an article about the frustrations in our day. We often forget that the voice on the other end of the phone, across from us at the cash register, annoying the heck out of us in traffic, making our work life less than ideal, is a person! They are a human, like us, who is probably dealing with a host of issues in their own life – and yet we feel like we have the right to treat them as “less than.” Most times so we can feel better about ourselves.

We all do it. From the server we don’t acknowledge at the restaurant, to the grocer we never get off the phone to interact with, to that phone rep we let have it though we know they have zero control over what we’re mad at. We make a dozen decisions every day whether to treat those around us as human or not.

We are not cogs in a machine! Whether it’s letting someone in on the interstate or taking two seconds to at least say hello to the person behind the counter, we have to respect the humanness in each other.

Because when we don’t, we lose a piece of our own humanness and the mentality of treating people like objects can be a very slippery slope!

And almost no place is this dehumanization more prevalent than in the world of women.

image via Facebook
Enter in writer Elizabeth Gilbert. She wrote an incredible post on Facebook about the need for women to be kind and non-judgmental to each other.  What do we get by tearing each other down?

Maybe at the heart of it is that women are still unsure of where our place is. 

The group over at Makers posted this video about women “getting ready to lead” in 2015. If you’ve read Lean In you know that men and women are perceived differently as they climb the power ladder. The sad this is that it’s women who are tearing those in power down – not men.

Why do we do this? We judge a woman based on her size, that outfit, what she eats (or doesn’t), what’s on her Instagram, any nit-noid thing we can of and why? I think Gilbert says it best:

To judge a fellow woman for her choices about her own appearance is not only cruel, it also speaks to a fundamental insecurity that says, "I am so uncomfortable with myself that I have now become deeply uncomfortable with YOU, lady — and I don't even know you."

I watched the Golden Globes on and off on Sunday and kept hearing women talk about the amazing roles for women in media today. They patted themselves on the back – because look there were films with strong female leads (1, 2, 3, 4)  ! We’ve taken such strides… And yet, one of the biggest films of the year is, at its heart, all about domestic violence, we let rappers sing about raping a woman who challenges them without any repercussions, women are still being reduced to who they are wearing, and we are still even having the conversation about how great women’s roles are (notice how men never do this?). And to get beyond the superficial –women in the Middle East still fight for the right to exist, girls in any war torn area are turned into sex slaves, women still make less than men (even in the film world), and right now little girls are being molested, sold, and abused with no hope that it is going to change. But it was a great year for women, right?

So what is the thread in all of this?

Compassion – love – appreciation – EMPATHY. They are not qualities we value anymore, but we should. It is so easy to judge and yet so hard to be kind.

I love Gilbert’s closing:

So here's what I do. 
When I see a woman who has lost weight, I say, "You look terrific." When I see a woman who has quit dieting and embraced her curves, I say, "You look terrific." When I see a woman who has obviously just had plastic surgery, I say, "You look terrific." When I see a woman who has let her hair go grey and is hanging out at grocery store in her husband's sweatpants, I say, "You look terrific." Because you know what? If you are woman and you managed to get up today and go outside, then you look terrific. If you are still here, then you look terrific. If you are able to go face down a world that has been arguing about your body and your face for centuries, then you look terrific. If you have figured out what you need to wear, or do, or not do, in order to feel safe in your own skin, then you look terrific. If you are standing on your own two feet and the stress of being a woman hasn't killed you yet, then YOU LOOK TERRIFIC. To say anything less than that to (or about) your fellow woman is to add ammunition to a war that is bad enough already. So back off, everyone. Be kind.

Why don’t we all try a bit more kindness and a bit less judgment? What if treated those around us as we want to be treated? I know I hate being treated less than, so how can I do it so easily to someone else?

Be kind – ask the checker how their day is going. Talk to the teller at the bank. Don’t yell at the phone rep. Hold the door. Say thank you. Let someone in. Pay for the coffee of the person behind you. Complement someone just because (and really mean it). Speak up when your friends start bashing someone they don’t know. Realize the world is so much bigger than your little corner of it. 

Maybe if we all started practicing generosity. Stopping in the midst of our day to engage, caring about someone we will never meet, these small acts could built into something good – even if it is just a world where we can all see each other as human and value each other equally.


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© Amanda Lunday