The other day someone asked, “To what do I owe this kindness?”, and I was suddenly fearful for the future.
Why? Because the marketplace of relationships in which I choose to participate does not utilize such currency, nor would I ever want to raise a child in a society where this is so. But, alas.
For those of you who know me, I’m forever (and annoyingly) dissecting language, continually learning and developing what I hope is better, more effective communication. The importance of this to me lies in a deep longing to understand others and to be understood. The overall goal is compassion, in pursuit of a deeper, more thoughtful love of those in my realm. The ultimate aim? Well, if unfamiliar, you’ll need to research “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander” yourself. You see, I would love to explore that bunny trail with you, but I have been constructively criticized for “derailing” a bit too often. But, in case you need help, just Google ‘commonly used phrases’ and type it in the Search field. Otherwise check out the library, where you will find the very best reference books published to date, which are far more thorough and reliable…
Oops. Nerd alert!
Anyway, here’s how I go about the progressively meaningful, essential quest toward becoming an expert in “Say What You Mean”.
By the way, as I fight my temper to achieve “And Be Careful How You Say It”, I’ll make it a goal for Volume Too. Hey, Disney doesn’t own sequel alliteration, so cool it.
I looked up “kind” and, as Roget and Webster so dependably inspire, found myself on a spontaneous vocabulary adventure with my favorite sweet talkers.
A few synonyms that stood out to me were charitable, compassionate, and humane.
Charitable? As in ‘charity’? Hmmm:
1. generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless
2. something given to a person or persons in need; alms
First synonym listed under ‘alms’? ‘Handout’. Interesting.
Oh, and I like that word ‘generous’…especially after I checked out the definition:
1. liberal in giving or sharing; selfless
2. free from meanness or smallness of mind or character; magnanimous
Wow. Let’s read that again. “Free from meanness or smallness of mind or character.”
Magnanimous? In other words, “forgiving”, according to my beloved thesaurus.
I’m sure you get the idea.
What has happened that we live in a world where we are owed something in exchange for our kindness? Terrifying. It’s everywhere.
In the business world, we hear “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”. But isn’t that how it worked before the exchange of currency? We traded one need for another. What if we all just start scratching a back and stop worrying so much about whom is scratching our own? What, you’ll only accept a certain brand of back scratcher? Spoiled brats.
Human “love” has become a tool, a means of getting something we want. Oprah – and, subsequently, all of mainstream America – goes on about the importance of gaining “self-esteem”. What a load of fiction. The difficult truth is, most of us esteem ourselves above anyone we have ever claimed to love.
Think about it. When was the last time you made a genuine sacrifice for someone without any sense of obligation or expectation of return?
Yes, love is meant to be exchanged. But what if you find yourself only on the giving side? Or worse, only on the taking side? Some would consider the former being a “doormat” or “weak”. Fascinating. Doesn’t it take a stronger character to continue giving, despite receiving nothing in return?
I submit that authentic love will motivate us to strive in out-giving the receiver. I will further submit that we all are responsible for sharing that kind of love as we are all deserving of it, as well.
Imagine us embracing this fully and the ripple effect therein.