Sunday, November 17, 2013

Another Kind of Kindness

Today our blog is about another kind of kindness. We know about the intentional and random acts of kindness, they are the ones that we talk about, as SPPRAK. They are important and make a difference in the lives that we live, the people who we touch through these acts. These are fun, mostly comfortable acts of kindness. Today we add to that list: the uncomfortable act of kindness.
We know what you are thinking! An uncomfortable act of kindness? Really? Don't we only do what we feel is in our comfort zone? Or maybe just a little out of it? So maybe an explanation is in order!

A few weeks ago on a trip to downtown Chicago there were the usual suspects on the streets, it was the same a few months ago on a trip to downtown Indianapolis, and one to Nashville TN. You know where this is going don't you? Street people, the homeless, the victims, a lot of times, of their own making. These are the uncomfortable to be around, uncomfortable to make eye contact with, the ones that we all, even if secretly, judge by standards of our society. We are all afraid to be taken advantage of, what if their Lexus is waiting for them around the corner?

So here is the thing, we don't know if the Lexus is waiting, if everyday they pull in a few hundred dollars, or if this is the job they choose. We don't know if this is the only choice they feel they have. Can you imagine any of these scenarios? When they get up everyday and suit up, it means dressing like a bum and depending on other people’s kindness to end the day, probably about 10 hours later, sorting through trash to see what your take of the day was? After of course all the judgmental looks and most who avoid looking all together. Not really the greatest career choice, at least for most of us.

And what about those others? The homeless who depend on the kindness of those who will throw a few coins their way. Granted, most of those are there due to the poor choices they have made in their lives. We get that. They are dirty, pleading. And they might use the money given to further pursue the poor choices they have made.
Then there are the aggressive street people, who chase after you begging for just a few dollars, maybe they have a quota to make and want to get a good start early in the morning, or have to make it before the end of the day. The ones who yell about needing help, carry signs fashioned out of cardboard and marker. Help Us they plead. Real? Fake? Who can tell? And they aren't going to!

So here is the thing, it’s called uncomfortable kindness because it makes you feel uncomfortable to give it, because in the end does it matter why they are there? Of course they come to where the people are. And as we pass by in our groups of friends or colleagues does it hurt to share change or dollars with them? These are the people who test our reasons for being kind. Everyone of us needs an act of kindnesses done for us and by us. Our job, as spprakers, is to build a culture of kindness. These uncomfortable acts of kindness test our commitment to this culture. Are we really what we say? Or are we just kind when it is easy for us? In the end it would only be a few coins for us, a smile, a nod, maybe a silent prayer for the recipient if you feel inclined. Or a cup of coffee, a sandwich, you get the idea! Uncomfortable kindness explained.

***side note: please keep your safety in mind when practicing acts of kindness. If your intuition tells you do not do it, do not do it. You will be forgiven for letting an opportunity go by, and a chance to make up for it later, there are always more opportunities to practice all acts of kindness!