Remember to be Kind
The coming weeks, as kids return to school, will be a time of great excitement for some, but for others this may be a time of unease, uncertainty, and fear. There are many valid reasons for people to feel some or all these things, but masks and vaccines seem to be the issues weighing most heavily on people’s hearts. These issues can easily create division, so as we approach the start of a new year, let us all keep the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald in mind:
“To be kind is more important than to be right. Many times, what people need is not a brilliant mind that speaks, but a special heart that listens.”
Is it better to be right than kind? It’s a simple question, and one that we’ve asked our kids a hundred times. In most instances, people would agree that kindness rules the day, but when such volatile subjects come up, its easy to think that there are only two sides and it is your job to show why your decisions are right, and all others are wrong.
Actually, in my practice, these topics tend to come up quite frequently, and I find that instead of two “sides”, when it comes to vaccines, there are actually four:
Those who have gotten it
Those who haven’t
Those who have gotten and regretted it
Those who haven’t gotten it yet and regretted it
Patients in all four categories have reasons why they feel the way they do, and when I listen to them, they are all right, and they all had one thing in common. How can people in four different groups, with opposing views all be right and have things in common?
Each of them made the decision that they felt was best for them and their family. None of them seemed selfish or malicious. None of them seemed ignorant or closed minded. They were all just people trying their best.
Masks also bring out strong feelings and have to ability to create division. So far, many school districts have made the decision to leave the decision of masks up to the family. I’ve heard as many opinions for this decision as I have against it, so I just see it as another opportunity to be kind. In preparing my own kids for their first day, I told them that there will be some kids in their school with masks and some without. Neither is right or wrong because each family has to make the choice that is best for them.
We don’t have to understand why someone makes their choice, and we don’t have to agree with it, but we can still be kind to them.
Based on my experience, I find that many people are happy to discuss their decisions if they feel safe to do so. No one likes to feel like they are under attack. So, if you have questions about why someone with an opposing view made their choice, ask them; but if you do, make sure it is done with kindness and from a genuine and sincere place.
Remember that no matter their choice, these people are still our family and friends. They are our neighbors, coworkers, and classmates, our fellow parishioners, club members, and teammates. A differing opinion doesn’t make them evil or stupid, so be kind.