Today is #WorldKindnessDay 2022 and it’s my focus for this week’s Sunday Spirit blog.
Much of what I’ve been reading online so far today is predictable about all those little things we can do to help spread more kindness. Like paying for someone’s Starbucks, or returning wayward grocery carts in parking lots, letting someone go ahead of you in a long line, shoveling snow for a senior citizen, or treating restaurant staff with greater respect and courtesy, and on and on.
All lovely and familiar acts of kindness and civility. Right?
But I want to go just a little bit deeper and address the power of language to uplift others. I want to talk about our word choices and how they can impact and grow kindness, too.
I get that the past four years plus have been a bit of master class in the snide and rude and ugly language discourse, often with no apologies given. At some point during these incredibly challenging and even frightening past few years, I’m pretty sure most of us have utter some less than delightful and supportive words about others, not to mention uttering more profanity.
But what does that say about us? The ones slinging the verbal mud? And those that support such actions? Are we part of the lack-of-civility problem, too?
Why is it so hard for us to be kind to one another by using more civil words and yes, kind words? And why do we so easily excuse away our behavior?
This past week’s Election Midterm 2022 results got me thinking that the American people were sending a pretty clear message that they’re tired of all the discourse and lies and misuse of language hurled at neighbors and friends and family and yes, politicians. It seemed many were sending a clearer message that it’s time to reclaim our civility our humanity, our faith in goodness.
The key words seem to have been.
Enough is enough.
Got me thinking that maybe it’s time for us to revisit our abuse of language.
We all know people that think it is funny to take a shot at others in attempts to bring them down, put them in their place, or make themselves feel more important and together than they really are. There are more than a few people in this diverse world that love spouting a little snark and find nothing harmful about it. They challenge others to have a greater sense of humor about it all and not take language so seriously.
And whatever you do, don’t you dare become the word police or censorship king.
But nasty and snarky words often say much more about us than they do about our targets. We seem to conveniently forget that someone is on the receiving end of our insults and words, some that may include harmful stereotypes that truly hurt people.
The dreaded R-Word that so negatively impacts people with intellectual disabilities is one example that comes to mind.
Maybe you choose those negative words just to get a chuckle or supportive amen from those in your innermost circle. But if you have to explain the intent or your words after the fact, perhaps it’s best to consider different word choices.
Throwing shade at others does nothing to lift them or us up. It’s not as cool as some people like to make it out to be.
Words do hurt.
Words can also heal.
Simple as that.
If our word choices can hurt others, imagine what power they also hold to build someone up.
Maybe simple acts of kindness can begin simply by using more uplifting and positive word choices every day of the year, including to ourselves. Lord knows we’re pretty good about beating ourselves up, too. Then the annual World Kindness Day can simply serve as a reminder about checking our personal actions the other 364 days of the year.
Kindness should be a daily goal, and it begins with us. Period.
Maybe instead of random acts of kindness, we should focus on more intentional acts and words of kindness throughout the year.
Just a little World Kindness Day thought.
Wishing you all a beautiful week.
Be kinder. It’s a choice, and it’s really not that hard.
Do you think language choice can have positive impact on improving civility and kindness in this world?
Check out randomactsofkindness.org for more kind ideas. Globe image courtesy of them.