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Where Has The Kindness Gone

As a baby boomer, Denise and millions of others are becoming senior citizens. She explores what it means to be over 60 today.

Friends

Friends

Basic Kindnesses

I know I was raised to exercise kindness. I was told even as a woman to hold open doors for the elderly or those who had their hands full. It was the kind thing to do. I was taught to let others go ahead of me in line or on the freeway; it was called courtesy. I was taught to let others speak and not interrupt; it was called maturity. Don’t we teach these things anymore? Or is it just that young people don’t see any monetary benefit in these things and therefore they aren’t worth their time.

We never know the journey another person has walked, so be kind to everyone.

— Lynette Mather

Monkey See, Monkey Do

The Social Conformity Experiment

The waiting room experiment is a perfect example of the social conformity dilemma we have fallen into. It shows me that we are essentially sheep. The girl in the experiment never asks what is going on or if this will get her into her appointment sooner. She simply conforms. My mother had an annoying saying that if all my friends were jumping off a cliff I would too. Not so. I would at least ask what’s so intriguing on the other side and decide for myself if the leap was worth it.

Simon Sinek Speaks On The Millennials

Explaining Millennials

This talk on the Millennials in the workplace is very telling. It shows us that although those parents like you and I who thought we were doing a good thing by telling our darlings that they were special, we may have caused more harm than good. I remember thinking that giving out trophies and ribbons for just showing up to the competition was not very wise but I never could put my finger on why until Simon Sinek spoke of it in this interview. What we did was ensure that they were NOT special by giving ribbons to everyone, even last place. We made them feel that they were less than special and that isn’t what we originally intended.

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Be the girl you want your daughter to be. Be the girl you want your son to date. Be classy, be smart, be real, but most importantly be nice.

— Germany Kent

When The Neighbors Knew You

I always thought that the intention was to give our children what we weren’t able to have, be that nicer clothes, more gifts on holidays, or a room of their own. However, what it morphed into was more like showering possessions on children that weren’t able to cope with the idea of entitlement. When you give so much that the children think they deserved “things” for doing nothing, don’t you basically reinforce the notion that they shouldn’t have to work for anything? When you bail a child out of consequences for actions at school, aren’t you telling them with actions that their bad behavior is not going to be punished as an adult? I can remember playing “ding-dong-ditch” on a neighbor. If you don’t know the game, it is where you ring the bell but hide so that they come to the door and no one is there. Unfortunately, my neighbor knew me from behind and called my parents. Before I even made it home they were waiting for me. That is how it should be. I faced consequences for my actions not only from my parent but also from my community. It has been a long time since I heard of children facing the kind of consequences I faced for bad behavior.

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Accepted Rude Behavior

With all this entitlement, kids aren’t being taught to be kind. Why should they be? It isn’t enforced, encouraged or even profitable. When celebrities can misbehave and grab women any way they want and suffer no consequences, why should the youth of America? It is even laughed about and winked at. When college guys can commit gang rape and receive no jail time only because they are football players, then why should anyone respect women? “Everyone is doing it.” In truth, everyone is not doing it but those who are are not being punished for it, so a mixed message is being delivered. Respect and kindness are things of the past. No one holds the door open for a lady. No one gives up a seat to a pregnant lady on the bus and no one waits to let the elderly go first. Or so it would seem. Kindness isn’t lost altogether. It is just being drowned out by the cacophony of those who aren’t kind and don’t care.

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Appalling

One day while walking on the sidewalk in my hometown, I spotted an elderly woman just ahead of me, bent over in the effort of carrying her bags of groceries while pulling a small cart behind her. So I stepped up and offered to carry her bags for her. She was horrified and instantly pulled away from me. “No,” she replied. “The last person who offered to help me took my bags and ran away with my groceries.” What kind of mean character would steal groceries from an elderly lady? Someone with no conscience and no mother!

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Theft And Heartlessness

For several years, my husband and I lived next door to a sweet elderly lady in her mid-seventies. She needed oxygen and so walked around with an oxygen tank and a walker. I remember she very much coveted her independence and worked to keep from having her children move her into a “home.” She had been widowed twice and would often stand outside and talk with us on some of her life memories. I really enjoyed those conversations. One day, a teenage boy watched her walk slowly into her little apartment and place her purse on her kitchen table. He then dashed into her apartment grab her purse and dash out the back door before she could even turn around. We found her outside yelling at the boy who disappeared down the street. It was a tragedy that was not her fault. Her children then had the leverage to force her into a retirement home, essentially taking away her freedom and independence. She passed away the following year, having nothing left to look forward to. My heart broke for this dear lady, and I was so angered at the teenage brat who would do such harm.

Be soft, don't let the world make you hard. Be gentle, don't let the people make you difficult. Be kind, don't let the realities of life steal your sweetness and make you heartless.

— Nurudeen Ushawu

Model Good Behavior

I shouldn’t spend all my time thinking this is only a problem with men. The same goes for the young woman of today. We ladies don’t need to let the men open (or not open) doors for the elderly when we are just as capable and it is the right thing to do. Someday we will all be elderly as well (if we should live so long), and I for one, would like the same treatment for myself that I want for the elderly today. Which is to say, I need to do more than preach it. I need to be the kind of person that models good behavior today.

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Step Up

Years ago, I was upset at the ladies of my church for not being more Christ-like to my teenage girls. It was that time when teen girls typically don’t listen or take advice from their parents. They heard complaints from my girls and instead of befriending them, they gossiped what they heard all over the church, even though most of it was exaggerated and fabricated. I had always felt that if just one godly woman had taken my girls under her wing, listening to their complaints with a godly expert ear instead of the reactionary responses that they typically got. Many nights were spent on my knees crying out to the Almighty that no one was there to hear them and maybe make a difference for them. Then I heard it. It was almost audible to me. It woke me from my self-pity and made me examine myself. The message I got was, “so what are YOU doing for someone else’s teen girl?” In a day when teen pregnancy and drug abuse, plus school dropout rates are skyrocketing, what are YOU doing to help? If every grown woman in the church or community took just one or two teen girls under their wing, befriended them, talked about life, boyfriends, love, and the future, how much of a change do you think that could make? I think it could impact the future for generations to come.

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Every Little Kindness Makes An Impact

That’s the day I started befriending some of the 13 through 16-year-olds in my church. They hung out with me (which is amazing in and of itself), they liked to talk to me about school and clothes and art. When each of those girls went home, they knew someone other than their mom and dad cared about them. I got to know them, memorized their birthdays, and knew what was going on with their dreams and hopes. All this I kept confidential because I wanted them to feel they could tell me anything. Also, I took most complaints with a grain of salt only because I know how girls can exaggerate. Still, I didn’t let that keep me from keeping my ear out for any real dangers to them. All it takes is kindness and thinking of others before yourself. Some of those young people are still in touch with me today.

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Be The Hero

I’m reminded of the line in that song from Superman, The Movie: “Where have all the good men gone?” We need a HERO. What we need are men, true men, and true women, who are willing to stand for right and justice and kindness, against the selfish, ego-driven, misogynistic, sons-of-dogs, whose parents weren’t married. If we cannot find the HERO, we need to be that HERO!

Comments

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 27, 2019:

If I want a kinder world I have to be a kinder person. I figure the only person I need to be better than is the one I was yesterday. If we all thought that way, it would be a kinder place to bring up children.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on September 06, 2018:

Ann,

I'm glad you agree with my solution of taking teens under your wing and hope you try it for yourself. With just a little effort you have young people as friends for life. And who knows what bad decisions your attention may have kept them from in the future. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Ann Carr from SW England on September 06, 2018:

How I agree with you, Denise. Life is all in the fast lane, though I know many who are kind and act with thought, both young and old. There are pressures but not so many that we can't stop to think of others, stop to be aware of what's going on around us.

I'm lucky in that my grandchildren are being brought up to be kind and helpful, sensitive and fun. Their schools also teach them the those values. But much of what I see in the street saddens me.

You're right about the answer too. If more of us took some under their wing, the world would be a better place.

You argue salient points clearly and well.

Ann

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 27, 2018:

Dora Weithers,

Thank you MsDora. I agree. I think I need to remind myself from time to time. I just went next door to the new neighbors to give them a loaf of my Raisin/Cranberry Bread. How easy it would be for me to just notice I had new neighbors and go inside and leave the welcoming to others. But no one welcomes new comers anymore. We have become an isolated society sticking to the Internet and calling that socialization. I am glad I got to do that tiny think and learn their names. It didn't take much time and it gave them and me a smile. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on August 27, 2018:

Denise, it takes time (just a little bit each time) to teach kindness, so many parents rush ahead and ignore it. Thanks for taking the time to bring this dilemma to our attention and waking us up to the necessity of kindness.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 26, 2018:

So right, my Venerable Bede. Those are words to live by. Lord, help me to do exactly that daily. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Bede from Minnesota on August 26, 2018:

Try not to be discouraged Denise. I know what you mean- it sometimes feels like coldness has displaced kindness. There’s only one way to arrest this trend: be kind even towards mean people. Human nature totally revolts against this effort but it plants a seed. St John of the Cross said, “Where there is no love, put love, and you will draw love out.”

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 25, 2018:

Rachel L Alba,

You are so right. That is how Christ would have us be. I really get peeved with "Christians" who claim the name and not the teaching! We should be a light to the world and so few actually are. I was heartbroken too when the lady wouldn't let me help her with her many heavy bags. She was little and bent over and I was young and healthy. I figured when I'm older there will be people to help me and I'm paying it forward... but she was too afraid to let anyone help her ever again. So sad. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on August 25, 2018:

Hi Denise, What a powerful message your post has. It was so sad hearing about those poor older women who were taken advantage of and stolen from. The first woman couldn't even accept help from someone who actually cared because of fear. Yes, I agree, kindness is not being taught today. I have a little Sunday School class of children 5 to 8 years and I stress kindness to them because that is how Christ would want us to be. Thank you for your post.

Blessings to you.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 24, 2018:

Bronwen Scott-Branagan,

Absolutely correct. I hesitate in using many of the Bible passages because I don't want to come off too preachy but I think the Fruits of the Spirit are evident. Patience, goodness, kindness and self control... etc. Thanks so much for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on August 24, 2018:

Kindness is an attribute that is so important in our daily lives, but how frequently we find it missing. I especially enjoyed reading your Lynette Mather quote. There are some good ones in the Bible, too.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 24, 2018:

You are so very welcome, Shannon. I think that means you are a deep thinking. Nothing wrong with that.

Blessings,

Denise

Shannon Henry from Texas on August 24, 2018:

Oh my goodness, I talk too much. Get carried away when I'm writing, even in the hub comments sometimes. Thank you for your kindness in response to that. LOL.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 24, 2018:

Shannon Henry,

First, I have to say what a charming epic you wrote in response to my little article. It is practically and article by itself. Perhaps you should write on the subject too. You have a lot of good things to say. I love that you liked that video about social conformity. I was so amazed when I saw it the first time. I watched it several times thinking surely someone made a effort to object that I hadn't noticed the first time. But that wasn't the case. Unfortunately I'm not sure I would have the self-assurance to NOT conform, but I'd like to think I would at least ask questions... to the receptionist if to no one else. Second, I thank you for your appreciation of my befriending those teen and preteen girls. In a day like today, you have to be careful who you let "befriend" your young people, but the parents knew me and trusted me. All I did really was let them talk... about anything on their minds. Also I asked questions about school and their thoughts on life and career choice, boyfriends, etc., and then listened to their answers. It apparently made a huge impact on them. More even than I knew at the time. I still hear positive things from them now, years later about how much my attention meant to them. It didn't cost me much; just my time and attention. How hard is that? Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Shannon Henry from Texas on August 24, 2018:

It's hard to say, really. I think the rules of courtesy seem to have changed with the younger generations. I graduated high school in 2000 so I'm not far behind the internet generation of Millenials , but I didn't have the smart phones and other devices even when I was in college. Personally, I try to teach my kids the value of kindness and so do their teachers in school. It was a theme last year. I hope it sticks.

I can tell you that just today I went to the bus stop to wait for my child and an elderly lady who lives on the corner flagged me down. She believed she had some problem with her phone, though I could find none. I turned it off to reset it and she flagged down a couple teens who were walking, too, as I did that. These girls were so sweet to her. And extremely patient in explaining the same thing to her a few times. Honestly, I am not sure she fully understood. There may be a memory issue because her son had her phone labeled with how to answer, but she seemed grateful and happy for the assistance. And I just backed off a bit to stand there and watch the girls. Because it made me happy to see the kindness without hesitation from teenagers.

Plus, I live in a state where people open doors for people all the time. Would you believe that the first boy who ever opened a car door for me to get out was just a friend. From college (which is why I ended up down south in TX)? Not a boyfriend but a good friend who was taught chivalry and kindness. He was that way toward everyone. The kind of person who made you feel like you had his undivided attention by looking you in the eyes when you spoke to him, no matter how insignificant. But holding the door open for women, children, and the elderly to enter or leave is still a common thing. At least it is here.

Which, I guess, leads me to your video about social conformity. LOL. What an interesting experiment. I can't believe only one person asked why and then only tried once to understand why. I thought someone would ask the clerk about it, but no one did. And OMG.... I still ask my kids if all their friends jumped off a bridge would they do it, too? I can assure you that the question is just as annoying as ever. LOL

I do agree with you about the community and consequences for bad behavior. Unfortunately, I often find that other parents are not receptive to me when I try to talk about a problem with their child. Not always the case, but too often. Personally, I want to know what my child has done. I love it when my children befriend people whose parents will let me know and who aren't afraid to dish out a consequence or two of their own for my child if in their care. These parents also want to know about their own children.

And I won't go without saying that I love your story about being there for teen girls! Friendships like that are special and I believe that they are God-sent. I had a teacher in high school that reached out to me to do housework for her. She paid me to do it, but we had some personal chats. Then when a friend of mine had a crisis that needed adult intervention, this teacher was someone I trusted to help when my family wasn't hearing my urgency. Then she had my back when my mother had to learn about my involvement. I wish there were more people like you willing to befriend young children that way. It's good for them to have other trusted adults and not just parents. That's an act of kindness from you that made a major impact on some lives, I am sure.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 24, 2018:

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon,

I expect that you aren't the only one growing up around that kind of darkness. I so happy you are experiencing a more respectful environment now. This one was a hard one to find a uplifting ending for but I decided if I wanted change I needed to be part of that. Thanks so much for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on August 24, 2018:

The world you're experiencing now is the kind of world I grew up in. Living in a ghetto, kindness is viewed as a weakness. You didn't dare show any for fear of becoming a victim. I was lucky to escape that and now live in a village where people, for the most part, are respectful and expect it in kind.

I like how you ended this. If we can be the hero, then perhaps we can reverse this trend.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 24, 2018:

Linda Lum,

I was raised in a small town where not only my neighbors knew me by name but much of the town did also. It was a community event to go walking along Bear Creek and greet all the regulars as you passed. Now that I live in a much larger city (although the longtime residents still think of it as a small town) it seems no one knows me and even when I greet people or at least smile I often get no response back, so I know what you mean. Sometimes progress is sad. How can a people become a community if they don't even want to share the simplest of courtesies like smiling? Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 24, 2018:

Mary Norton,

Mary, you speak words to wisdom and insight. I do wish that elders were revered and respected as in the old days but it seems as I get to be and "elder" I'm no more respected than when I was 20. I think being a buddy to your children is a terrible example for them. How will they learn respect for laws and authority if they never grew up around any? Anyway, all we can do is be an example and a light right where we are, influencing as many in our sphere as possible. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 24, 2018:

Marie Flint,

Thank you for your encouraging words. I would like to think that things will get better eventually. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 24, 2018:

Bill Holland,

Thanks Bill. Respect is so simple a concept and so hard to enforce in those who feel too empowered to bother. It's good to know that you champion respect and kindness wherever you see the need. Thanks for your continued support and comments.

Blessings,

Denise

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on August 24, 2018:

Denise, what a beautiful article. It takes really so little effort to extend kindness. My husband and I go on a walk almost every day. One of our favorite walks is in a park overlooking the bay. It's paved and so easy to walk (no fear of tripping). The path is wide enough for 4 people to walk abreast. We always greet those passing us in the other direction. It's amazing how many people don't even give us a glance, much less a smile or a "hello" in return.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 24, 2018:

Lisa Marie Gabriel,

I know it must be a world-wide thing but it feels like a creeping cancer here in the states. I'm happy to know I'm not alone in the sentiment though. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 24, 2018:

Sally Gulbrandsen,

So true, Sally. It cost nothing but a change in mindset to me kind. It's the simplest of courtesies and so few people are willing to exercise it anymore. It does, however, make those few stand out like glowing beacons in a dark world. I intend to be one and I think you do to. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on August 24, 2018:

Thank you for these thoughts. I, too, have thought of these and have been so disappointed. Having come from a different environment where elders are much respected and the community exercises its discipline on the younger ones, it makes me really cautious these days as you can't just do that. Even the parents would rather be their children's buddies than be the authority. This has its own advantage but also its disadvantage. Kindness is always of advantage.

Marie Flint from Jacksonville, FL USA on August 24, 2018:

A very thoughtful and sincere article, Denise. I felt heart-warmed in reading it.

Higher spiritual sources tell us that these early years after 2012 are a push-pull as changes upon the planet are happening (yes, there was a magnetic shift in the poles). What we see and hear of the chaotic condition "out there" is a phase through which we will get through. The vibration of the earth is quickening.

You are doing a wonderful job in taking teen girls under your wing. Not everyone will necessarily have that calling.

I partly disagree with Emerson's quote. We DO have to be happy, to be centered in ourselves and loving ourselves as we are. It is only from this point of self-acceptance that we can truly make changes. When we ourselves carry the vibration of love, patience, acceptance,and peace, we raise the vibration of others around us by our mere presence. We don't necessarily have to talk to them.

We are evolving; wisdom is coming. The prospects of a bright future are exciting. You're doing a good job. Hang in there and have unyielding faith. Blessings!!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 24, 2018:

So true! I'll tell you truly, I have no tolerance for rudeness. I will call it out immediately when I see it or hear it. We are all human beings and as such deserve, at the very least, respect.

Lisa Marie Gabriel from United Kingdom on August 24, 2018:

You are so right. Kindness costs nothing but a few seconds of thought and the world would be a better place if we all exercised kindness and compassion as a routine thing.

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on August 24, 2018:

Kindness to others costs nothing and if everyone exercised more the world would be a better place. It is such a basic skill but so lacking in some quarters.