Wherein I Turn So Sentimental That I Grow a Second Vagina
Regardless of my reputation for being acerbic at best and a huge freaking bitch at worst, I've always loved this poster (available tons of places - you do the research):
I particularly like that the sentiment is not expressed as a directive, but rather as a mere statement of fact. Thus, my oppositional side isn't incited by some strange do-gooder poster telling it what to do, and the angels of my better nature can peek through the hazy pall cast by the demons of my bitchery. It is nice to be nice, and life is so much more pleasurable when we can access the parts of ourselves that are able to agree and act in accordance with this truth.
Lately I've been thinking a lot about Plato's often repeated quote "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle," particularly in my fragility following Kylie's death. When store clerks are nasty to me, I want to tell them what has happened to our family just so that they know that they're being rude to a person with a heart and not some abstract defined as "customer." Likewise, I've found myself striving for empathy and compassion in a more meaningful way, because I can't know or tell who in my casual daily encounters is in pain or is struggling with something greater than I can imagine.
I've noticed that crucibles endured and rubicons crossed can bring out either the best or the worst in people. Weddings, births, deaths, moves, victories, and failures all bring with them opportunities to rise to the occasion or to plummet to far below the occasion's demands. This observation has borne itself out predictably during the past month, and I've been amazed at the generosity and understanding of some people and shocked by the thoughtlessness of others.
And so, unlike the gentle reminder provided by the poster above, I'm just going to go ahead and beg you, internets and world in general, to let trying circumstances bring out the best in you. Being kind, warm, and understanding is not a weakness, and being selfish, cynical, and cold is not a strength. There is always a moment of choice preceeding an action, and in that moment is always an opportunity to act for good. So, please consider this uncomfortably earnest plea in those moments as you encounter them. You'll be happier, and I'll give you a gold star if you do.
For inspiration, watch this (via Mightygirl via someone else). See? It's nice to be nice!