Column: Kindness, a lost art

The past few weeks have been rough physically and emotionally, not only for me, but for everyone who cares about our country and the world…anyone who cares for anything or anyone other than themselves, that is.

Since when did it become accepted practice to lie, cheat, steal, and deliberately harm others for strictly selfish reasons? Since when did rude behavior become the norm? Since when did it become customary to forego all sympathy for others? Since when did being kind and compassionate become an undesirable trait?

There is no such thing as “fake news,” nor “alternative facts,” no matter how it’s spun. If Joe Blow is caught on camera telling blatant lies during a speech and the speech is shown in its entirety, Joe cannot claim the speech was “fake news” and deny he made those statements. But, he will, and be foolishly believed.

What we are seeing today has been creeping toward us since the 1980s, when financial consultants began advising their clients (and business majors) to focus more on the bottom line, while putting themselves first at all times. We were told that volunteer work was no longer tolerable and a waste of our valuable time; that we could not afford to work on any project that did not further our immediate personal income.

The mantra was, “If you’re not getting paid, don’t do it.” Corporations, particularly, took the advice to heart, jettisoning prerequisites that kept up employee morale and reducing community participation.

As a result, many programs across the spectrum were affected. Being a rebel, I continued to volunteer for programs that helped children, the elderly, and disabled, even though told I would later regret doing so. Thirty-five years later, I have not regretted it in the least. Quite the opposite.

Believe it, or not, there was a time in our country when people with differing opinions worked together and compromised to reach viable solutions to common problems. Negotiations hit snags, deliberations were often long, yet participants stayed with it until a conclusion was reached.

There was none of this, “We’ll shut down the government if you don’t do what we want!” nonsense. Far from sounding strong, they’re more like the playground bully threatening to take his ball and go home. Ignoring constituents’ needs was political suicide, as was the slightest hint of personal scandal. Politicians and corporate businessmen acted like ADULTS in those days, something you don’t see today.

This is one instance when “the more things change, the more they remain the same,” does not apply. Things have drastically changed…for the worse. What can we do? Don’t accept lies, no matter who tells them.

Tell the truth, not what you would like to be the truth. Take responsibility for your actions and teach your children to do the same.

And, realize that, except for a small quirk of fate, you could be in as dire circumstances as the person you deem inferior to yourself. Most of all, always be kind to others.

Until next time.