Meaningful Living in the Hashtag Age

Posts tagged ‘kindness’

The Courage to be Kind

Check out my blog post, The Courage to be Kind.

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To show kindness –> LIKE my status

Not long ago, I had a theory: if at least ten percent of my friends LIKE my status I had achieved Facebook success. Anything less than 10% and I should delete the post, change my name and move to another country.

Although my theory was flawed and my motive ill-conceived at best, I ultimately realized that our desire to be liked, even in cyber-space, is rooted in our need for positive feedback and inspiration – two important acts of kindness. Although social media provides an easy way to share our love and support for one another, we should never confuse the enormous impact of what God refers to as ‘unfailing’ kindness with the frivolous act of clicking LIKE on Facebook.

In a time before social media, kindness was readily expressed in more meaningful ways. A young man would help an elderly woman take her grocery bags to the car or a neighbor would share a plate of warm cookies with the kids next door. Although these acts of kindness still exist, in a world where 1.2 billion people are on Facebook monthly, our standard for how we express our support for one another has shifted.

Our accomplishments and sometimes our failures are expressed to the world on-line instead of over the phone or in-person. And when our friends applaud our efforts by hitting LIKE or come to our rescue with an appropriate quote of inspiration, we often feel less alone. Even amongst the clutter created by selfie-enthusiasts and Candy Crush fanatics, staying connected and sharing a part of our lives with those we love is important. But when kindness is minimized to hitting LIKE on a computer screen, its impact is diminished.

When we click a mouse instead of picking up a phone, we acknowledge what our loved ones have accomplished but fail to express words of kindness that are sustaining. When we click a mouse instead of praying for and with those we love, we miss an opportunity to intercede before God on their behalf and to show an inexhaustible compassion – the same compassion God shows us every day.

As Christians and Facebook citizens, it’s important to never forget that the Great Commission has not changed because of technology. Although Facebook is a great way to show your support, God’s word remains the same and His expectation that we offer others an unfailing kindness even in a changing world is worth more than a million LIKES.
So the next time you hit LIKE, follow-up your support with a prayer and words of inspiration and continue to show those you love the loving-kindness, grace and mercy God has shown us all.

Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”

The Courage to be Kind

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Me and my mother, the late Ernestine Daniel

I’m a Southerner at heart. The more I travel the world, the more I accept this fact. That may not mean anything to most people but to me it is a badge of honor and a distinctive factor for who I am and what drives me.

As an African-American, the connotation is often negative because of the South’s history. Images of civil rights leaders marching arm-in-arm and the impact of Jim Crow laws on defining race relations is what people often expect me to never forget. And I haven’t. But those experiences, even as tragic as they were, can not erase the pride I feel in being from the South.

My favorite memories of growing up in Alabama involved my family. I was raised in a small, working-class community by a single-mother. For over 30 years she worked the same job, raised four kids on less than $12 an hour and tried to instill in us a sense of integrity, courtesy and faith in God. She had a humility that you often saw in the Deep South – one that was not tarnished by the harsh realities of segregation and her own struggles to overcome poverty.

But in spite of her circumstances, my mother’s most important lesson to me was to always respect others. I often hear her say, be polite, Michelle, always say excuse me and treat others how you want to be treated.

For years it was a simple request. But as I got older my own realities chipped away at my ability to put my best face forward. I could blame a lot of things, like the four years I spent in college as the only minority in many of my classes or the ten years I toiled away in the male-dominated commercial real estate industry where I struggled to have my ideas heard. Kindness became harder to deliver as time went by.

Nice people often get left behind. In the corporate world, being kind is a sign of weakness and generosity, especially in the mean streets, can get you hurt. I learned this the hard way as I moved throughout the U.S. My exposure to new people in different situations made my mother’s ideas about kindness contrite and meritless. As a result, I became tougher and fearless; more opinionated and easily aggravated. I began to believe that it was too difficult for me to be rational when others were not.

But one day I looked in the mirror, forced myself to remember my mother’s teachings, her life experiences and the kindness she showed others until the day she died. That day, I reaffirmed within myself that my upbringing, my respect for those that fought before me but maintained a kind spirit and my desire to discover all that is sweet in this world made it impossible for me to be anything less than kind.

So in my Southern-accent I walk the halls of my job wishing everyone a good morning. I try hard to look the other way when cars cut me off on the road and I smile even when others are not. Although kindness isn’t just a southern-thing, it is my way of saying thank you to my mother for her humility and showing pride in all she taught me.

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