My mom always used to say (and still does), “It’s better to be kind than right.” This has always made me think that my mom is afraid of being wrong and/or people thinking negatively about her (understandably, I suffer from this myself), but recently, I’ve been thinking a little deeper about it, and I think there’s something more to the equation.
I think that it may be good to be right, and it may be better to be kind, but it’s always best to Love.™ Unfortunately for my mom and my compartmentalizing brains, I don’t think that love and kindness are synonymous.
So, I’ve always heard the “Love” bit in the Bible as a list of individual characteristics to pursue separately, in order to achieve perfect loveliness. In case you’re unfamiliar, it goes, “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Anyway recently I started to shift my thinking of those traits. What if they aren’t static, objectively-defined articles of proverbial clothing that we can put on ritualistically, no matter what’s going on in the world? What if they’re actually vital organs, structures, and systems within our spiritual bodies, making up the whole, crazy, complicated, and beautiful beings that learn and respond and change, according to outside stimuli?
I think what that looks like, is that when our organs are healthy, they’ll respond to provocation according to the nature of the provocateur. Healthy lungs don’t initially like poison, just the same as a human in Love won’t initially return spite for a trifle.
Interpersonal interaction engages the spectrum of emotion; a dominant emotional response of kindness may indicate a healthy emotional bond between two people, but, on the other hand it could also indicate a very unhealthy relationship, depending on the rest of the indicators.
Notice I said “dominant.” We all have to have animosity within us, in order for kindness to exist. Think about it – if you’re always giving out stars and never any dots, your stars don’t mean anything. If you don’t allow yourself to feel a dislike of someone or of something someone said, you have [created an illusion in which you have] removed yourself from the game, and are no longer able to play at all. So if your kindness-animosity gauge is “kindness-heavy,” that could be an indicator that you are in Love. To find out, look at the rest of your gauges, idiot.
Anyway, then I thought of the “Time, Time, Time” Simon & Garfunkel song, which is from the Bible, just in case you didn’t know, and goes, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven– a time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; a time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; a time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; a time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.”
That one always gets me. I love reading that chapter. It makes me feel sane, whole, complicated, and real.
There is a time for kindness, and that is different for every person, place, and situation. I’m realizing this in my life right now – that kindness, literally can’t be forced. Try to withhold animosity, and the “kindness” that results will be resentful. Forcing kindness in exchange for abuse is as dangerous as dangerous comes.
So what do you do with abuse if you’re a child? Or an employee? Or a Christian? Well, again, every person, place, and situation is different, but I think maybe the first step in dealing with these things in our lives is acknowledging what it is that we hate, and the fact that we hate it. Accept your rejection of it, and understand that it is part of being in Love. And then fucking listen to the rest of what your spirit has to say. Chances are, you’ll be able to hear yourself a lot better once you allow yourself the Truth. The truth will set you free, as they say.
The whole body needs attention. Every aspect of Love needs care, just as every part of our bodies need regular check-ins, maintenance, and upgrades. Kindness isn’t always the right response, and truth is sometimes very painful. I think at the end of the day, we’re better-off focusing on the big picture of wholistic Love. So far, it seems to be able to solve a multitude of problems.
I have to get back to work, but to sum up my thoughts for this morning – we’re all fucking complicated – am.i.right. And I’m so happy to say that I am really growing in my personal life, even during this weird, unsettling time in Iowa. I think for the first time in a long time, I’m beginning to feel open to the idea of loving people again. And I’m very excited about that. We all none of us is perfect (say it out loud, it sounds better), and that’s not just okay – it’s the way it was meant to be. The end.