Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Health and Wellness of the Soul: Developing Kindness and Respect

I think one of the main things that humans differ in from other animals is that we have the opportunity to go out of our ways to show kindness, respect, and consideration to others of our species.  In the past few weeks I feel as though I have been inundated with examples of people doing the exact opposite of this, so today I am finally taking the hint and writing about it.

River in Gallenas Canyon
It just so happens that this kind of goes along with bullying and I am sitting watching the birds again this morning.  I had hopes of catching a glimpse of the bird my husband described yesterday so I could identify it and I want to watch the Bronzed Cowbirds.  All I got this morning were the usual suspects, including the bullying doves.  It made me remember my post on bullying and how we can choose to practice kindness and compassion instead of continuing to spread anger and hatred.  My goal with this post is to make sure that I am not just repeating what I have already written.  I think the main issue is that society has become something that encourages individuals to constantly think about themselves.  It has bred selfishness and inconsiderate behavior.  We no longer stop to see things from the perspective of others, only what can benefit us first and best.

I think my biggest pet peeve in this area is blaring music.  There isn't anything that can show us what is on the person's mind better than blaring music.  It doesn't matter what type of music, although most of the time music that is blaring out of someone's home and/or vehicle is negative and laced with an attitude that celebrates bad behavior. (In my experience).  When we are so consumed with our own world, turning music up so loud that it does damage to our eardrums and rattles the windows of our vehicle and the houses we drive by, we are essentially giving the message that, "Nobody matters but me and what I want."  Examples:  Husband and I went to a lake for an overnight fishing trip.  We packed light (for me) and carried our stuff on our backs around the lake so that we would have our own space and be away from the entrance and the activity.  We go to the lake for solitude.  At around 11:00pm a vehicle showed up and parked with their music blaring and conversation even louder.  Even from across the lake it was too loud, the conversation was about drug abuse and threatening people.  We found cell signal and called the police, so they eventually left.  A few days later, on Mother's Day, we went to a different area where there are picnic spots next to a creek.  At first it was lovely, then some other people showed up and had to put their music up very loud.  When they first turned their music on it wasn't that bad, it bothered us because we go to nature to escape things like that, but we were able to tolerate it.  Then another group of people showed up and turned their music up louder to drown out the other.  We packed up and left.  My point of view: If you want to listen to music, by all means, do so.  I won't let mine disturb you, please don't let yours disturb me.  I'm not just talking about my family's inconvenience.  This is something that a lot of people hate.  I know someone in a different town that had a petition go around so that he could have sound ordinances observed in his community.  This is why neighborhood watches and gated communities have been formed, this is why there are city ordinances.

What's my point?  Hasn't anyone ever stopped to teach people that we don't have to always think about ourselves?  Haven't we ever learned that we don't need to inconvenience and offend others to be happy and feel accomplished?  Let's use some more serious examples:  Religion and politics.  Ideally, each of us has the prerogative to believe and stand for the things that mean the most to us.  No one person or group is correct and should not be able to dictate belief system or world view to another person or group.  However, our world is full of different religious groups persecuting and condemning one another for the sake of being "right".  They don't go to one another in love and out of concern for their souls anymore.  They seek to be the last religious person standing.  The things that are happening today that involve religion are, at their core, no better than the Inquisition and the ways that native people groups across the globe were treated.  It is shameful brutality.  Instead of slow torture and mass genocide, it is the artillery of tongue and tank.   I do not know if politics are the same in other countries as they are in the United States, but I know that here political stance has become religionized.  People adhere to their political stance with the same rabid hatred that they do their religion.  Neither side stops to see the hurt and hatred they spread into the world.  Each tries to outdo the other with their "shock factor" to get their point across and nothing gets accomplished.  Each cries about injustice and discrimination, never stopping to think that it is the hatred that they are spreading that causes the very things they seek to irradicate.

My morning view on our fishing trip
Kindness, Respect, and Consideration.  It is common to think of these things as showing weakness.  In church I was taught that if I showed them to people that I didn't like I was being a hypocrite.  (Hypocrisy is showing hatred toward others when you claim to follow a God-man who came to save and love EVERYONE).  How do we live these characteristics toward those that do not show them to us?  Sometimes, like in the face of bad music, being kind means not confronting them or going through the proper channels to confront bad and dangerous/illegal behavior.  In other instances it is to go out of your way to not act with the same attitude as others.    It doesn't mean that you allow yourself to be trampled on, but it does mean that you don't retaliate in the same way.  If you want others to respect you, be considerate of you, and show you kindness, you cannot treat them poorly to "show them what it's like".  Minor example: in the instance where two people were having a music show-down, neither communicating with the other, just turning their music up to drown out the other, what was accomplished?  Bigger example: rioting may be a "shock factor", but all it does is show that you are capable of violence and seek to destroy other people's property.  How would you feel if it was your property being destroyed?  Trampling on the beliefs of others, even in the name of "rights", is not showing kindness, respect, or consideration.  It does not show others that you deserve to be treated with respect.  These actions show that you are selfish and inconsiderate and no different from those whom you are criticizing.

Kindness and respect are not just actions that we take toward others, they are a reflection of our soul/spirit health.  If all we want to do is hurt others and retaliate in violence and hatred, our souls are torn and hurt.  If we want to heal our souls, begin to see more joy and outward positive emotions in our lives, we need to tend to our souls.  I wrote a three-part blog series about Self-Care, healing, and forgiveness that addresses soul health as well.  There are things we can do to help ourselves with better health, this includes soul health.  If we want to experience evidence of soul health, all we have to do is see how we treat others.  (Note: how we treat others doesn't mean becoming people-pleasers.)  When someone disagrees with us, do we become angry and hurtful toward them?  If someone says mean and hurtful things to us, do we retaliate with the same without regard to how they will feel?  When I begin to see myself responding and treating others harshly or negatively, I have to stop and weigh where it is all coming from.  What is going on inside of me that is making me treat others this way?  More often than not, I have received hurt somewhere and haven't tended to it.  Our souls depend on us for healing and forgiveness to maintain health.  

It is sad that these are the things that are mostly publicized.  On Facebook, I follow a page call Good News Network because they publish the good and positive things that regular media skips over.  There is a lot of beauty in our world.  There are people to our right and left that are showing kindness and respect, even in the midst of turmoil.  We just don't hear about it, and we do nothing to spread it around when we do hear about it.  These positive stories are seen as skirting the issue when in reality our society has become something that makes mountains out of molehills and giant devastating earthquakes out of mountains instead of working to remedy the issues in peace and with respect toward everyone involved.  If each of us made it our goal to out-do the other in showing respect and being considerate, society wouldn't be that way.  If we went through proper channels to express and alleviate injustice instead of creating more injustice, society would become safer and more pleasant for everyone.  If we went out of our way to make sure that we don't treat others as poorly as we feel we've been treated, there would be a change.  If we took the time to look outside of our own wants, we would learn to be happier in life with the things that truly matter.  If we stopped to see the positive things and lovely things instead of all the negativity, maybe we would in turn treat others in a more lovely manner.  I have to decide to do these things everyday.  When people are inconsiderate and hateful toward me and those I love, my first emotional response is to lash out and make them feel what it's like to feel this way.  But, my more logical response, the one I am trying to fine-tune, overrules and I realize that the better way is to choose to be different.  I encourage everyone who reads this to choose to be different and not show the same inconsiderate behavior as others.  Choose to respect others for the simple reason that you would want respect if you were in their shoes.  Choose to find kindness as a source of behavior.  Maintain your soul health.

Light and Love,


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