We all have bad days. There are days when we just can’t deal with our situation. Days when the world seems like it’s too much. Days when our problems are so overwhelming that we lash out at those around us – strangers and friends alike. We all have days when everyone annoys us, when long lines and waiting take their tolls on our patience, or when we can’t understand the logic and motives of others and their actions. We all have those days where we step over the edge into depression, anger or frustration. We all have those days when unsurmountable obstacles seem to be deliberately placed to stop us from advancing.
It’s important to recognize those days in others and to react with kindness.
A short man walked into a bagel place and took offense at the look on the face of the people serving him. It set him off. He cussed at everyone around him, challenged two people to “take it outside,” and ended up getting tackled by someone much larger than him.
We didn’t know anything about him when the video went viral, but social media was quick to label him as Joe Pesci and Napoleon. People called him misogynistic and other names. At the bagel place as far as we can tell from the video, no one bothered to try to understand what the guy was going through. The woman asked him, “Who has said that to you here?” A man told him to “Calm down.” People pointed out the impropriety of his actions, and a man tackled him. The woman filming confirmed she “recorded the whole thing” as she turned around to leave and her friend “just wanted a bagel.” The store, where the outburst occurred, piled on the man and offered mini bagels to anyone who mentioned the video.
Based on that one video, no one knows anything about what that guy was dealing with at that point in time. No one empathized with him. No one worked to deescalate the situation and find out how to help him. Instead, they challenged him and egged him on. Then, one of the men in the shop tackled him. Not one person showed this man kindness.
I’m not saying that this man’s tirade was right. I am saying the reactions to it left something to be desired. Maybe if someone had responded with a kind word and a little understanding, he would have been able to leave the bagel place feeling better; maybe not. But isn’t it within our morality to try to help him just a little?
Kindness isn’t easy, especially when we are being told every day that we need to be confrontational if we want to be seen as powerful and if we want to win. Being generous with our time is difficult when we are all so busy trying to make a living and get out from under our bills. Being understanding is hard when we feel like no one understands us and we don’t make an effort to walk in the other person’s shoes or make allowances for lapses in behavior.
But kindness is essential for us to survive. As the world grows more uncomfortable and people are living on top of each other, as financial situations become direr and people are fighting to feed themselves and their families, and as we find ourselves in need, it behooves us to do what we would want others to do for us.
Kindness is just good for our society; It’s good for us as individuals. People, who are kind, experience feelings of lasting well-being. We can’t control how others will react to what they are going through and how they will bring that into the world; we can only control how we react. I hope we choose kindly.