Tag Archives: kindness

Think before you speak (and post)

16 Dec

hiding-computerI’ve always been a positive person.  I wake up feeling happy and look forward to seeing what the day is going to bring me (and what I will bring to it).  If someone ever gave me a set of pajamas that say ‘Don’t Talk To Me Until I Have My Coffee’ they wouldn’t know me well at all.  I like to think I am ‘realistically positive’.  Not the type of positive that you want to kick in the teeth.   There are things I find hard to be positive about –  winter for one. There is a whole lot of ugly commentary that goes on in my head surrounding winter. But then I am able to move on from it as my it is my choice to live in a part of the world where winter happens.   I remember going to my confirmation classes with our priest and one of the boys asked facetiously ‘Father, do I have to confess EVERY dirty thought I have?’ to which Father MacDonald replied ‘If you confessed you that you had 13 dirty thoughts today I would beat you and say I had 19’.  Kind of like dirty thoughts – everyone has negative thoughts.

I’ve noticed something lately though and it is eating at my positive self. Media and social media has caused our society to become this cesspool of negativity.   Trump consumed people for months and the media/people posted every awful thing he said or did. It was as if the world was ending. Post after post of hysteria.   Police officers, drivers, developers, healthcare – no one is safe from this online judgement.  Where I live there is the threat of a teachers strike right now.  There is work to rule action in place – meaning that teachers are only doing what their contract binds them to do.  It seems every other person is posting some awful accusation or critical viewpoint of teachers or the government.  It is as if social media has given all of those ugly inner thoughts we have a place to be displayed and confessed.  In the past it meant going over to someone’s house to talk or writing a letter to the paper or going to a public political meeting.  It takes balls to get up in front of a group to speak publically about a criticism you may have and it takes skill to write a well crafted letter which the paper will print.  It doesn’t take much courage or skill to post negative/critical comments online.  In fact, any donkey or educated person (who statistically are actually the most critical) with an internet connection can do it.  Just like the earlier mentioned dirty thoughts – not every thought you have needs to be confessed.

It is the holiday season.  A time when we are historically especially stressed. And we all know what stress does: it brings those ugly-inner-critical-of-others-thoughts closer to the surface.   We are rushing around searching for presents, getting groceries, travelling.  Here are a few facts: it is going to be busy.  The parking lot is going to be full.  There are going to be lines.   And if you’re travelling the airlines might lose your luggage.  But what we must remember is that we are choosing to do whatever it is that we are doing. Set yourself up for success.  Have a drink before you go.  Go for a run.  Get laid.  Whatever it takes to get you into a good frame of mind.  Don’t go to Costco at 2 pm on a Saturday.

Before you go take a minute (or rather 4:23) to watch this video  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wl2_knlv_xw.

I hope reading this has encouraged you to think before you speak, post or share.  The fact is: teachers are people who also have children, politicians are people we voted into power, you’ve been the person who didn’t see the light turn green and should remember how jarring it is to have someone blare their horn at you, you’ve been helped by a police officer before and our healthcare system has saved the life of someone you love.  I know you’re better than that.  Come on team let’s look on the bright side of things.  You’re alive.  Use your input in a more powerful way.

Think:

T: is it true?

H: is it helpful?

I: is it inspiring

N: is it necessary?

K: it is kind?

 

The Aloha Spirit

29 Jan

Image

I am on vacation in Hawaii and since arriving here I have certainly felt something other than the bright sun shining.  I have felt an abnormal sense of friendliness and community.  Everyone says “Aloha” to you, people wave when you pass them on the road, the radio announcers say “make sure you are kind to others today” and on the holiday last week they said “enjoy this day – get outside and be sure to go visit with your neighbors”!  There are hitchhikers that people actually stop to pick up. Dogs run into the yards of neighbors and no one seems to mind. Obviously this is a vacation destination so locals are used to people from other places being here, but everyone we have met takes a really genuine interest in finding out more about us and where we are from.  I also have been shocked at this fact – only 2 people that we’ve met did not know where Nova Scotia is.  I mean this amazes me because Hawaiian’s are American after all. 

In the state of Hawaii there is a bylaw against light pollution as lights at night confuse many of the seabirds. Their migration paths get messed up as they think the lights are the sun/moon. We are staying in a very populated beach area on the island of Kauai, but once the sun goes down it is as if you are in the country.  Very dark. I have noticed a funny vehicle that buzzes around this area.  It looks something like a trolley car you would see at an amusement park, but this one has a grass skirt as a roof and a ‘free shuttle’ sign on this side.  The night before last we walked to dinner as we wanted to have some wine and therefore not drive.  As we were trotting down the very dark road on our way back home the trolley came along, beeped at us and pulled up.  “Aloha, do you need a ride home?”   We said “sure”!  So this retired guy runs this free shuttle all through this area.  He has music playing and his Cairn Terrier named Aussie sits with a great view in the front beside him.  He says that he goes by the “Aloha Spirit” meaning what you put out into the world you get back.  Of course his offering of a free ride results in a tip from most people he picks up.  What a great thing he is doing – cruises around in the warm air, playing music, meeting new people, doing a good deed, hanging with his dog and making some coin in return.  I love it.

I’ve done a little Aloha research and I love what I’ve found.  Aloha is the essence of relationships – each person is important to every other person for collective existence.  I heard about a town on Kauai that exists in this manner.  In days gone by those escaping development/Capitalism moved to this area and created a community of people who live off the land and maintain Hawaiian traditions.  It is one of the poorest areas on the island.  In the late 1800’s a rich scottish woman acquired an enormous plot of land (somewhere around 50,000 acres) from the King on the promise that the land would never be developed commercially.  Now, this land could make them millions and millions of dollars, but instead they are barely able to pay the taxes on the plot because they have stayed true to their promise to the community. Most of the land is a conservation area and a small portion has allowance for certain tourism helicopters to land at certain waterfalls for a fee – one of the ways they raise money for the taxes. I am sure it is bizarre and obscene to most but in many ways it is beautiful.  The movie the Descendants tells a story that I am sure involves influence from the history of the land and the Robinson family.

I think we all need to come here and let the “Aloha Spirit” hit us over the head and bring it back to wherever we call home. Not to think that we are all going to run a free shuttle or donate our land to conservation efforts, but we all can be a bit kinder, more patient, more considerate, more open, more generous, more charitable, more understanding and a bit more community minded.  A collective effort results in a big effect. 

The next time someone does something in traffic that annoys you – think ‘I have been that annoying person before’ and don’t blow your horn, give finger, or call them an idiot.  Invite your neighbors over or even shovel their driveway.  Say “Hello” to people you meet. Reach out to a friend that you’ve been ‘too busy’ to see.  Call not text someone. Volunteer. You get the picture…