Today I was listening to one of the staff members discuss the news with a resident. This particular gentleman has moderate dementia, but follows CNN daily. He loves to talk and share his knowledge with others.
He was telling the staff about an attack on the United Nations vehicle that involved the beating death of a veteran by teenagers. Without realizing it, he had jumbled a few stories together, creating one story. The staff member tried to separate the two events for him, explaining Syria and the UN attack as one event, and the beating death of the veteran as another, separate event.
“Well, that makes it worse. What you are saying is, there are two bad things instead of one. Neither one is very kind. One bad thing, two bad things, even three bad things, all of it rolls into the same thing. ‘A’int none of it kind. Why are people like that? Why are people so mean? My mother and father did not raise me like that. Did yours raise you like that?” He seemed very concerned for the world’s unjust lack of being kind to one another.
“No sir, my parents did not raise me to be mean.” The staff member realized the conversation was beginning to upset him, hence, she changed the topic.
“Did you have a nice breakfast?”
“What you don’t like talking about what’s happened to the world? That’s half the problem. Nobody wants to face the music. In my day we called a spade a spade. We did not sugar coat anything. If someone was mean, or unkind, it was dealt with right then and there.Your generation procrastinates. Worries about tomorrow tomorrow. If you people dealt with things right here and now, we would not have half the problems we have. Do you remember a time when we would hang people right on the spot for killing another man? Do you remember a time when we had firing squads that ended the killers killing spree? The Good Book says do to others what they do to you. Eye for eye. Tooth for tooth. Respect back then, was earned, not deserved. If you lived the way you ought to, you were respected. If you didn’t, well, that’s what we had rope and bullets for. People your age don’t respect nobody or nothing. Let me tell you one secret. If you are kind to yourself, you will be kinder to other folks. People say ‘kill ’em with kindness.’ Well honey, I am almost 93 or 95, 90 something, and I ain’t never seen nobody drop dead from kindness. But unkindness? Now yeah, I have seen unkind acts kill people. Be good to yourself, be good to others and you will live to almost be 100 like me. Never been shot, never been hung on a rope, You know why? I got raised on kindness.”
He continued on, becoming redundant, but determined to call a spade a spade.This gentleman, may be confused about his age, confused about current events, and even a bit jumbled on the Bible passages, but right on point with the true meaning of kindness.
Dementia robs it’s victims of their memory which causes a domino effect physically, socially, and mentally . Yet, dementia can not touch, harm, penetrate, eliminate, destroy or devastate the morals and values of a person. Certainly, we can change our own value system to suit ourselves at any point in time, but that is a decison we choose to make. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can change the goodness God put in us and our parents instilled in us, BUT US.
Remember in the late 90’s the phrase “Random Acts of Kindness”? Cars had the bumper stickers, billboards encouraged ‘acts of kindness” and Random Act of Kindness had a whole week set aside for it’s recognition, as a special event. Here is my thought. Why? Why is being kind, a random act? Should it not be a lifestyle? If I saw you in the grocery store parking lot, having dropped your grocery bags, I would help you gather your groceries. What is random about that? If we were at the bus stop in pouring rain, I would offer to share the covering of my umbrella. To me, kindness is expected, to be given and to be returned.There is nothing random about kindness. Either a person has the trait to be kind, or, not. Simple. Furthermore, why is there a week set aside to encourage kindness? One week of being kind is going to do what for us? Let me get this straight. If my tire blows out on the interstate on Monday, you will stop and help me because it is Kindness Week? But on the following Monday, you will not stop and render help?
Another thing. Did you know that researchers are studying compassion and kindness to see if both can be a learned value? It’s called Compassion Training. Isn’t that just cute? They will teach you how to feel compassion. If our society has reached a point where we have to teach and train humanity on compassion and kindness, we have crossed a the line in the sand. We have arrived at pure uncivilized insanity.
I am reminded of the poem, “No Man is An Island To Himself”.
“No man is an island, entire of himself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the Sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were … ….John Donne
Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in Mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”