If we're being honest 2016 wasn't the greatest year for a lot of people. Controversial and dividing politics split countries and communities of people in two, many of the worlds greatest humans passed away leaving us with other less admired people and a huge mess to clear up in their absence. All we seem to see in the news is how the world seems to be getting gradually worse. I have also noticed that, more than ever, internet trolls and genuinely mean people seem to be getting more and more attention and authority. I can barely open my laptop some days because of the comments I know I will see on articles or the blogs I read and that I will read something that will upset me. And so often these people excuse themselves, or their fans excuse them, because 'they're telling it how it is', 'it's just their opinion' or 'it's just a joke!' My question is, when did being unkind become equivalent to telling the truth?
When I was little, I used to make up stories all the time. I used to lie to try and get people to like me and to try an seem impressive. Luckily this was a trait I grew out of as I gradually gained the maturity and self esteem to know that the people I wanted to hang out with I didn't need to lie too to impress and get them to like me, and those who didn't like me or those who didn't think I was worth knowing weren't worth my time. And after my first year of university, where I lied about how I was doing and hid my true feelings, anxieties and thoughts so much that when I ended up putting myself in hospital it was a complete surprise to a lot of people, I decided I needed a new policy. I decided I needed to tell the truth whenever I could and if there was something I didn't what to say or share, I wouldn't lie, I would just keep silent. In my mind this wouldn't be a lie of omission, I just needed to know that I have the option not to tell everyone everything I think, feel or do. So nowadays, I am always as truthful as I can be; I'm honest and I try to be an open book. However, this does not mean that I am always unkind. I would hope that my friends and family would describe me as kind and compassionate, yes I can sometimes tease people and I have partaken in the occasional bit of banter, but I would never say anything to intentionally hurt someone and if I ever do hurt someone unintentionally I am always keen to apologise and to make things right. I know I'm not perfect and sometimes yes I can mess up and I can be mean, but I do know what is appropriate and I know boundaries. Which seems to be a skill that too many people are loosing.
And yet, sometimes, I look at what so many influential people are saying or doing and I can't help but think that if, for example, someone heard a child or a young person in school saying that to someone else they would be chastised and punished for behaving like a bully. There are too many 'grown ups' out there who in my mind are bullies. And no, it isn't funny to encourage violence or sexual assault, it isn't tough love to tell someone that it's their own fault they are homeless/unemployed/unwell/abused and it is never NEVER okay to see human kindness and compassion as a sign of weakness. In my opinion, it takes real strength to be both honest and kind. I think often when people use honestly or what they masquerade as honesty to bring others down, it shows themselves to be weak and vulnerable; lashing out to cause damage first before someone can lash out at them. Kindness, manners and showing love to others is vastly underappreciated. Showing kindness doesn't mean that you can't confront or challenge others, it just means that you do so with respect and from a place of love. Trust me, I have friends who I love dearly but sometimes I do need to get cross with them, or challenge them, and they do the same with me. It's how respect between peers works.
Lady Gaga recently said "Just be kind. The act itself, it's free. And it's priceless". I think this statement rings beautifully true. Being kind costs nothing, it doesn't take anything from you and the repercussions of an act of kindness can be phenomenal. Personally I have experienced random acts of kindness from friends or strangers which have transformed my day. You never know who you could be helping just by being nice. AND if you need more motivation to be kind, according to many successful business men and women nice people get to the top. If you are unkind, if you are mean people remember you as someone that they don't want to work with. You can be kind and business savvy. My granddad for example, a very successful business man and he is one of the sweetest men I have ever met. You can be kind as well as smart, successful and self aware. I think often people confuse kindness with naivety. I know this too isn't true, in my experience those who are the least kind seem to be the most naive and inexperienced.
I would never want to tell someone that their voice isn't worth hearing, or that someone shouldn't be honest about how they feel. Please, continue to think and debate and discuss things that are important to you. Just, don't be a dick about it. If you use common sense, or place yourself in someone else's shoes before you speak, you can still express your point of view but without lashing out, hurting people and just adding to the noise which can hurt more than one may realise. So guys, please, don't let the world make you mean. After this year, we could all do with a little more kindness. So do something nice for someone today. Don't be afraid to be kind.
Happy Advent :)