Present Tense

We all need a “Buddy Bench”…

kindess 1

Be kind.  People live by a lot of mottos or platitudes or moral codes, but really those two words sum it all up, don’t they?  Be kind. Period.

Last week on our radio show, we brought up the  story of a local 7 year-old who talked his school principal into installing a ‘buddy bench’ on the playground.  The idea is that when a kid is lonely or doesn’t have anyone to play with, he/she can go sit on the buddy bench and the other kids will see them and include them.  Or maybe they’ll just find another kid in the same situation.  It’s sort of a sanctuary and a signal to the other kids to be kind and include the kids on the bench.

As cynical adults, we wondered if kids were really unselfish enough to offer help or companionship to a kid who needed it.  So, we asked our listeners to call us and tell us about a time when their child showed kindness and compassion, without any prodding or orders from adults.

The phones were packed; the stories were moving and sweet and inspiring.  As I listened to one story after another, I realized that kids get it.  They aren’t burdened by political correctness, prejudice or excessive judgment.  They don’t zip through their accumulated filters as to who is deserving of kindness.  They see a need and they act, whether it’s a physical, emotional or financial need.

As adults, we are jaded. We see someone who is struggling and compose a story.  “Well, they didn’t work hard enough…they deserve what they get…maybe if they didn’t drink so much…it’s not my problem…I don’t have time for this…nobody ever helps me when I need it…everyone wants a hand out…”

A child sees someone who is cold and knows they need warmth.  They see someone who is hungry and know they need food.  They see someone who is lonely or sad and know they need comfort. Kindness.  Simple.

I think we’re born with this capacity for empathy.  It’s what links all humans together. We all want the same things.  We want to be happy and loved and nurtured.  For the most part, we get that from our fellow humans.  If we’re in touch with our needs, rather than suppressing them or worse, denying them or being ashamed of them, we can connect with those in need.  Sadly, we humans also do a great deal of damage to others.  That begins the vicious cycle that is adulthood.  We were hurt, so we tend to hurt others in return.

Be kind.  We don’t have to go out of our way.  We can offer a smile during a difficult or embarrassing situation.  We can hold the door for a mom struggling with a crying child.  We can ask an agitated friend or co-worker if there is anything we can do to ease their pain or their burden.  It doesn’t have to be some grand gesture, but rather just a small step; a starting point.

Become someone’s ‘buddy bench’, even if only for a moment.  Be kind.  Period.

February 23, 2014 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments


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