I can still recite the 12 points of the Boy Scout Law. A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
I've been thinking a lot about the sixth point, a scout is kind.
That's a tough point for young men to follow. Look at any other of the 11 points and you can picture young men being those things. There are movies about being loyal and brave. You can picture helpfulness and friendliness, but kindness? That's for old men with Werther's Original candies in their pockets.
People often mistake being nice with being kind. You don't need to do much to be nice. That's often the go to characteristic of someone that we don't have anything bad to say about, but can't think of much else to say about either. "Oh yeah, he's a nice guy."
The dictionary definition of nice is: "pleasant; agreeable; satisfactory." I've had oatmeal that is pleasant, agreeable and satisfactory.
The dictionary definition of kind is: "having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature." That sounds so much better, doesn't it?
The internet is an especially tough place to be kind. Just look at the guy who tweeted about some nasty stuff about kid phenom Mo'ne Davis. Do you really need to lash out at someone you don't know who is getting some well deserved attention? It just baffles me why people need to do this. You're allowed to have opinions, but do they need to be expressed in such a hurtful, acidic way?
People also sometimes get suspicious of people who are kind, like they want something. I'll tell you what I want... other people to be kind to me.
My kindness has probably been taken advantage of at times. I'm just glad that journalism has also fine tuned my B.S. detector to a point where I can sense people's intentions. But I like to give the people the benefit of the doubt.
Kindness is difficult, do it anyway.
Last letter: #118 to Somerville, Mass.
Reading: News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist by Laurie Hertzel
Listening: "Strangers to Ourselves" by Modest Mouse
Watching: The Jinx