No Whimsy, Sugar (taste_is_sweet) wrote,
No Whimsy, Sugar

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Preaching Kindness to the Choir

I was reading this essay by Becky Chambers on teaching her mother to play computer games. The essay itself is fascinating and rather sweet, but I was more interested in an anecdote Ms. Chambers included, about playing the Star Wars: The Old Republic online RPG with a group of strangers. During the game one player revealed that s/he was new and didn't understand part of the game, and the immediate response of the other group members was an angry demand to to kick that person out. No second chances, no patience, no kindness to a newbie whatsoever. Just kick kick kick.

So I was thinking about that, and how often people react to problems (especially problems with other people) with anger or even nastiness. I've seen my son do it--I sure as hell know I've done it--and I've read LJ posts where the bloggers lament co-workers who apparently went out of their way to be vindictive or just mean. And I've been many, many places where being indifferent or rude is so common that it's a memorable surprise when someone's friendly.

The thing is, I've noticed as I get older (and some days I feel very, very old indeed) that most of the time it's more of an effort to be nasty than to just take a breath and carry on. I've seen how much energy people I love put into resenting indifferent store clerks or seething at their neighbors, and it just seems exhausting. Who has time for that much negativity?

I've come to understand that this is why forgiveness is such a big thing--it's not actually for the person you forgive, it's for you. When you forgive someone, you don't have to deal with that hot ball of rage you have because of them anymore, and hot balls or rage are a bitch to carry around. I know because I still have a few of them, but I'm working on it.

I'm also working on forgiving the indifferent store clerks or the implacably inefficient receptionists or the downright rude food servers or the guy in front of me at the grocery store who used a cheque to pay for a bag of beef jerky and a pack of gum. Life is too short to be pissed-off so much of the time, and depending on how you choose to react, you can get pissed-off at everything.

One of the nicest things about being kind is that it doesn't even have to mean going out of your way; it can just mean taking a deep breath and carrying on. And that's actually pretty easy most of the time.
Tags: stuff i care about, working on it
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