'Ask yourself: Have you been kind today? Make kindness your modus operandi and change your world.'Annie Lennox
Scottish Singer Songwriter, Political Activist And Philanthropist
When I was about eight, in Mrs. Beddows' grade three class, I remember the new kid. He was there for just a short time. I can't remember his name but there was something different about him. And if there is one thing kids seem to hone in on, it's the 'different'. So he was picked on and I watched and felt bad and felt sick inside. One day as we were getting our coats from the cloakroom closet, someone made fun of the argyle sweater he was wearing. I watched his face, the way it sagged, the way he looked sad and something 'popped' in my head at the injustice. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I do remember asking, in a very loud voice, if they knew how they were making him feel. I don't know if I made that boy feel better and I don't know if I made my classmates feel guilty but I know it got quiet. Then we all put on our coats on and went out for recess. Shortly after that, the boy moved away.
I have never forgotten this experience, the surprise I felt within myself at coming up against my peers, the sadness on the boy's face. And it came down to a simple act of kindness.
When my boys were little, I taught them to be kind, to stick up for the kid who was being picked on. The most rewarding moments were when my children told me they had made someone feel better or when a mom approached me at the school to tell me my son had stuck up for her daughter when she was being bullied on the playground. Now, with my two-year-old twins, I am trying to teach them kindness. I ask them to look at each other's faces, to see the sadness they may be causing. Often I overhear one of them saying, "It's okay, it's okay," as they reassure one another. Little by little it seems to be working.
I have always tried to practice kindness in my own life, whether it be welcoming a new member to a team, smiling and saying 'Hi!' to a stranger on the street, letting someone, with fewer groceries, in front of me in line, giving up my seat to someone who needs it more or sticking up for the grocery girl who is being embarassed by a rude customer. Any act of kindness is an easy gift to give. I'm afraid I have no respect for unkind people, people who set out to make others feel bad, who take out their own insecurities or unhappiness by bashing others, gossiping or making the check-out girl feel inferior. It's really not that hard to be kind. When you see someone's face light up as the result of your kindness, how can you not?
And that is why I can't help but infuse goodness, in some shape or form, into each of my characters that I write about. Whether it is my protagonist, who is feisty but kind to those whom deserve it or my villain, who shows a glimmer of softening toward children despite her evilness, I feel it is important to weave the goodness of human nature throughout my stories.
Over the past few months I have come across many writers. I've noticed the ones who are egotistical - the 'book spammers' who leave a trail of links wherever they go. I've met the ones who are downright rude, who have no problem bashing their fellow writers. But my faith has been restored by the acts of kindness shown by many of my fellow authors - all of whom I've never met face to face. Whether it be Buzz, paying tribute to me in his blog, Phil, giving me incentive with his support, kind words and advice or Keri, who makes me laugh and who willingly passes on her great ideas, I have faith there is a little good in everyone! At the end of the day we all remember the person who made us smile, made us feel great and went that extra mile.
And for those of you who are just plain mean, in the words of one of my favourite authors,
“When someone is mean to me, I just make them a victim in my next book.” Mary Higgins Clark