Kindness is the Christmas spirit I’m appreciating most this year, basic kindness. Sometimes simple acts go unseen. The world can seem pretty unkind if we based our opinions on much of what is moving in the digital world around us.
The news coverage of the tragedy in Ferguson, Mo., is one example.
I noticed some real spirit a few days ago at Casey’s General Store in Platte City. It did not make the news. But a guy waiting in line to pay for a big, heavy pizza got waved up to the counter by someone ahead of him.
It wasn’t me on either end. I was just watching.
But it stood out in this season. Someone noticed a stranger carrying a heavy load. A courtesy was extended and a thank you was spoken. Everyone eventually paid up. The store clerk was polite.
Homeward all went in pleasant peace.
Several hundred years worth of unpleasant history led to events in Ferguson. The racial issues being discussed are very real, no matter the disputed actions of all parties at the center. However, more violence and property damage does not help a thing. But I also thought about the people in Ferguson of all races who decried the destruction. Those who just want to live well in their corner of the world. A few made the news but not as much as those among the destructive forces.
Kindness sometimes involves choices made by a broad public.
I did not like the pack journalism mentality and sensationalism that I saw when I flipped on television news one night, but of course, I looked so I’m part of the public that creates the demand. It’s a troubling scenario for me.
I firmly believe in freedom of speech and a free press. To lose both would mean more dangers, but I wish for more restraint in the 24-hour news cycle and the public’s consumptive thirst for insensitive social media and broadcast media. So much tolerance for violence is ingrained in our society today.
An ad during a Chiefs football game broadcast showed a beautiful woman asking people to come play (buy) an extremely violent video game based on war and various means of killing people on a screen. I suppose professional football is violent enough, but at least players shake hands after the game. Some kneel in prayer.
But video games are so insensitive.
How can we expect this not to influence young people, or people of any age that are watching it be part of a national broadcast and consider it normal, even part of the fun in today’s world?
The old saying is that nothing is new under the sun.
I suppose that’s true because the Romans wouldn’t have built their coliseums if there was not a big desire among their citizenry to witness violence and death. We’ve advanced our gladiators to pads, helmets, penalty flags and Gatorade, but outside our arenas, things can still be amazingly tough.
You would think with all our technology and the lessons provided by history and sciences that we would do better. Think not that this is just an urban issue, either. How many times have you watched the news and heard the words, “Things don’t usually happen like this in our little town.”
There is a lot of kindness in this world and in this season. It occurs quietly. Such as when people drop canned goods or money off at a charity or donate through their churches. Organized groups visit nursing homes and raise spirits for awhile for those badly in need of a bright moment. A neighbor checks on a neighbor. And in the public, someone lets a guy with a big pizza step up in the line.
May we all let kindness shine a little brighter as this holiday season rolls along.
Bill Graham, who lives in the Platte City area with his family, may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.