No reason not to be kind

By CATHERINE KIRK CKIRK@DDTONLINE.COM,

I have stayed fairly tight-lipped with most people on my opinion on the COVID-19 pandemic, and I will continue to do so.

When there is a plethora of people, especially on social media, aggressively stating their opinions, the idea of sharing one’s thoughts feels like encroaching dangerous waters.

I was raised on the old philosophy that people should never discuss sex, politics and religion. Doing so is a recipe for disaster and, funny enough, those seem to be the hot topics people often gravitate toward.

There are far more things I could add to the “never discuss” list for myself. I don’t like having debates simply for the sake of having one.

I have learned it doesn’t matter how strong of an argument anyone presents, people aren’t going to be so easily swayed to change their minds just because someone else says so.

Humans, by nature, are stubborn creatures. If someone feels strongly enough about a certain topic, no amount of facts anyone presents will change their mind. The sky may be blue but if someone feels strongly enough that it is orange, good luck convincing them otherwise. That’s a task I choose not to tackle.

Same goes for COVID-19.

I will never tell anyone how they should feel, whether or not they should wear masks in public or how they should conduct themselves on a day-to-day basis.

I strongly believe you have to do what you feel to be right for you and your family. It is not anyone else’s business why we make the choices we do.

One thing we most certainly should do, however, is practice kindness.

It seems simple enough, but I have been shocked at some of the words people I personally know have said to each other in recent weeks.

I have seen debates on Facebook between people I have long admired become so heated it makes me blush. Perhaps it’s the added bravery we feel when we are typing behind the screen of our computers or phones, but the negativity can be downright appalling.

Just this week, a friend of mine in North Dakota said her elderly mother was quite shaken after a trip to her local grocery store. She had been staying inside her home during the pandemic but decided to brave a shopping trip rather than have someone else shop for her. And so, she put on her mask and entered the store while practicing social distancing. As she was minding her business, a middle-aged man who made it abundantly clear he thought masks were foolish and unnecessary approached her and berated her for her decision to wear one.

This woman was already afraid of being around people, but then she was cornered and bullied by a stranger for the choices she chose to take. He continued to berate her for several minutes and she, in tears, left the store without purchasing a single item.

Why did he do this, to feel better about his own choices? We will never know, just as I will never know why people choose to say the nasty words to each other they do on social media.

No matter what “side” we choose to take during this pandemic, kindness is something we should all practice.

Some people are scared to shop unless they wear a mask and gloves, and that is perfectly OK. Let’s be kind to them.

Some people feel claustrophobic wearing a mask and they don’t want to wear one as they shop, and that is perfectly OK. Let’s be kind to them.

Some people feel it isn’t time for small businesses to start reopening right now, and that is perfectly OK. Let’s be kind to them.

Some people are opting to continue staying home, and that is perfectly OK. Let’s be kind to them.

It is not our job to tell people how they should feel or behave, just as we wouldn’t want someone doing the same to us. The best rule is always the Golden Rule.

Let’s be kind to each other right now, there’s no reason we can’t do that.

Catherine Kirk is managing editor of the Delta Democrat-Times. She can be reached at ckirk@ddtonline.com.

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