I’ve been giving a great deal of thought to kindness lately. Or should I say that I’ve been mourning the rapid drain of kindness from our society? It’s evident everywhere. There’s a great deal of carnage left around the political landscape this month in the wake of Election Day. It seems that folks are willing to say or do anything to win an elected office. But what’s really going on here? When did it become acceptable to destroy another person for sport?
We all were children once, so we all remember the playground. There were bullies and those who were bullied. As a black child on Long Island, never mind the year, I was bullied, which could account for why I never acquired a taste for the practice. But on the playground, we were told that bullying was wrong and there were consequences for those who picked on someone due to any distinction that made them different.
Maybe we need look no further than this: Former President George W. Bush introduces the Bush Doctrine of Foreign Policy in 2002. The Bush Doctrine, for former Governor Sarah Palin and others who may not be aware, states, in my opinion, that the United States would stop being the peacekeeper of the world and instead become a bully. In my opinion, the Bush Doctrine is a policy that sanctioned “preventive” war against any country that we perceived to be a threat. Since there’s not another “superpower” in the world with the firepower and stature of the former USSR, I’m not sure what country could really pose that type of threat. Terrorism is real, but usually not state-sponsored. So the Bush Doctrine is a bullying manifesto.
In 2010, the Bush Doctrine has trickled down to the street level. We have cyber-bullying, which is causing young people to take their own lives. We have political bullying, which is driving experienced, competent folks out of office due to the lack of civility. With unemployment raging, the bullies survive in the workplace over the skilled and experienced. Pick an aspect of contemporary life and you’ll see bullying on steroids there. I don’t think we need to toughen up our hides; I think we need to make kindness mandatory, not optional.