Saturday, April 27

Killing, or at least, maiming with kindness

There are definitely people out there who know exactly what to do in tragic circumstances. They know what to write on a card, what to say in that initial, awkward phone call, what type of flowers to send, and what kind of food to bring to the hospital. I am totally not one of these people. I never know what to say or what to do, and I've sort of scraped by with just copying what other appropriately kind people are doing.

Now that I am a bit more grown up, and, having experienced some mildly traumatic things, I feel like I have the right to say that everyone is, to some degree, an asshole. People generally do not like going out of their way for others. I have to say, I can understand the hesitation. We don't like to feel we are a bother, or nosy, or that we are in the way, and we especially don't want to give up our few precious moments of free time in order to selflessly "do" something for other people. We are assholes. I am the biggest asshole. But... I think I can provide some clear guidelines on how not to be as asshole-y anymore (just in case you're interested).

Step 1: Please stop saying, "is there anything I can do."  This statement comes with good intentions, yes, but the pregnant woman whose father just died of a heart attack isn't in any state to know what she needs. The family with a baby son in the hospital may not realize they haven't eaten in 3 days. Please Note: Swiss Chalet = good idea. Take that extra step, decide what she might need, and then just do it. Don't ask. People in stressful/tragic situations need food, clean clothes, someone to feed the meter, long distance phone cards, booze, magazines. Anything. But please, stop with the asking. Just do it.

Step 2: If you have already asked, "is there anything I can do", and the recipient says, yes, please do A, B, and C, then get the heck down to business and do A, B, and C. What are you waiting for?

Step 3: Please always ask, "is there anything I can do?" Confused? That's okay, so am I. If you don't ask, then you are an asshole. That's just the way it is. While step 1 is very important to remember, not doing step 3 will get you into hot water. You have to say something to show that you are actually invested in the situation. That aforementioned statement is easy, derivative, and doesn't require too much brain power on your part. However, you need to make sure you follow step 2, or else step 3 is redundant.

I  would like to reiterate that, yes, most people (including myself) have the potential to be assholes, but, most people are inherently super kind as well. Do you want to be a kind person who doesn't actually DO kind things, or do you want to get 'er done? When people receive kindness, after going through a long period of badness, it becomes their new focal point. Instead of obsessing over whether their son is going to live through the night, they might just take a second and remember the awesome dinner you dropped off at the hospital.

Thank you. Class dismissed. 

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