Force of Kindness

A couple of months ago I received a late night email from one of my son’s 8th grade teachers. I told only my husband, my best friend and my parents. I am talking about it today only because, after spending some time reading news articles, political posts and reading some comment wars on social media, it came to my mind.

The email read:

Hi Mrs. Ziemke,

I just wanted to reach out and tell you how proud I was of Matthew today. He came to me this morning concerned about the sectionals line up for track. There is a boy on the team with special needs who has gravitated towards Matthew because he is so welcoming. Matthew asked me if I would take him out of discus to give this other boy a chance to compete at sectionals. I am so pleased with how kind and compassionate he is towards others. I know this opportunity is going to mean the world to this other student. I had tears in my eyes I was so proud of him!! It was such a great moment that I just had to share it with you!

Have a great night,

S. A.

So, why am I sharing now? Kindness.

Our children, many of them, are becoming something very different than the narrative on TV. Not all within this generation are entitled, disrespectful, or about to shoot up a school. Despite the anger we see all over this nation in adults.. “Baby Boomers” “Gen X” “Gen Y” “Millenials” or whatever we are being called now, the younger generation is, indeed, changing things. Quietly, in their own way. Through kindness. Seems lame? Not powerful enough? Some would argue. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” MLK, Jr.

I worry, however, that they are being called upon, too often, to move forward this force of kindness, DESPITE the examples around them. I long for a day when our children learn to exemplify kindness BECAUSE it is modeled by the grownups around them. I have never before witnessed anger at the level I now see in this country. “Republican” or “Democrat” used to be a checkbox, a difference of opinion, love for country viewed from a different angle.. now it is an emotional, spiraling, hell-hath-no-fury-like-two-people-voting-differently, violent, anger inspiring, friend costing, trigger.

So many people with so much anger. Operating without kindness.

We talk a lot, about a lot of things. Guns, mental health, racism, immigration, healthcare. But we don’t talk to listen, to understand, to be kind and hear someone out. We talk about issues just to fight, to scream loudest, to bully, to win. And no one does. We fuel the fire and the anger.

Our kids are trying. Despite what you read. Our teachers are trying, and teaching kindess. Some parents are, as well. But, still, outside of the home, or the classroom, how many practice what they teach?

All moms have sayings, things our kids will likely repeat to their own children (my mom used to correct my grammar by saying things like “who’s ‘she’ the cat’s mama?” hahaha!) and one of mine is: what you love, you focus on. I feel like that applies here, and to all of us. If it’s true – – that what you love, you focus on – – then we all need to learn to love kindness. Otherwise, the responsibility for the boiling rage within this nation, rests on each of us who continue to make anger our focus.

~Skye Ziemke


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