(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

What a year or two (or more) we’ve had. Children and moviegoers, as well as public servants such as teachers, first responders, and political representatives, have been made into targets by mentally ill, criminal, and/or just plain evil people.

As a society we want to talk about guns, mental illness, and lack of religion or good family structures. While all those factors are pieces of the puzzle, might we be missing something much simpler?

Are we living in that “kinder, gentler world” that George H. W. Bush wanted to promote? Do we even value the goal of a kinder, gentler world?

Is it very interesting to watch people acting in kind ways on reality shows? Do we want political officials to compromise—or would we rather they win for “our” side? What about how we treat the service people in retail establishments?

What if we, the average citizens, just take a pledge to respond in kindness as much as possible? What if we let others in front of us on the highway, thank the clerk after sales transactions, express our valid complaints with politeness, etc.?

The concepts of random acts of kindness and “paying it forward” help even more, but first we need to return to being kind in situations where kindness should be expected.

Does kindness cure mental illness or criminal intent?

Not likely—and yet, might some people’s homicidal desires be softened by receiving a lifetime of kindness?

And though I still can’t find a definitive source for one of my favorite quotes, I believe the more of us who follow its advice, the fewer random acts of unkindness we’ll experience:

Be kinder than necessary for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

While the public arena struggles with overarching policy changes, realize that being kind does not require us to agree on or rewrite laws nor does it rest upon any funding sources.

From this day forward, simply go forth and be kind.