Skip to main content

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.

where-has-the-kindness-gone

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.

where-has-the-kindness-gone

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.

where-has-the-kindness-gone

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!

where-has-the-kindness-gone

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.

where-has-the-kindness-gone

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.

where-has-the-kindness-gone

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!

Related Articles