I had no intention of writing a post this week, yet here I am. Right now I’m working on a website to empower struggling moms to live a better life. I believe with all my heart that when we create a better home life, we create a better world. This post is about something bigger than that. Today it doesn’t matter what my house looks like. My weight is not an issue. Today I witnessed something uncomfortable, and I had to make a choice whether to speak up or be complicit and that decision has changed my day.
An uncomfortable procedure
For women of a certain age, we have specific procedures yearly. Today was what I call the annual smashing of the girls. Once a year I endure a few minutes of physical discomfort to make sure those girls stay healthy. Today, the procedure wasn’t the most uncomfortable part of the appointment. While I waited to check in, someone walked in and began making a cup of coffee. I didn’t pay much attention because I was looking at my phone. Eye contact is minimal in these uncomfortable places, The volunteer asked if she could help the person and they said no and asked why she was asking. The volunteer said that it was rare to have men in the women’s center to which the person replied, “I am a woman.” Ouch.
From Bad to Worse
The volunteer said, “Oh” and went back to her desk. The woman muttered something about not letting it go and asked to see the woman’s supervisor who wasn’t in the office yet. When the volunteer handed her the supervisor’s card she wished the woman a good day. The woman replied that she had an appointment and wasn’t going anywhere, and the already uncomfortable situation got even worse. Oh, and to complicate matters the volunteer was white and the woman was African American. Double and triple ouch.
What’s a witness to do?
Do you ever have one of those moments that the Divine smacks you upside your head and tells you to speak up? I have and sometimes it sucks. I knew I had to say something regardless of how uncomfortable I felt. While sitting at the registration desk, I told the registration attendant what I witnessed. I told her I believed the volunteer meant no malice but was disrespectful. I went back to my seat, and when I got called back I told the woman I hoped her day got better, and I meant it.
Just before my procedure, I also told the technician what I witnessed. Apparently the volunteer was so concerned about the comfort of the patients when she thought a man wandered into the Women’s Center, she told the techs about it. I told her I was relaying the tale because as tough as the woman was, I was sure she was hurt at some level and asked the tech to please be extra kind to the woman and to let her fellow techs know that too. She did.
Two human beings connecting
On my way out, I saw the woman again and knew I had to say something else. She was waiting for a procedure we endure but never enjoy. Her morning had been difficult, and as I walked up, I saw she had blood drawn as well so she was just adding pain upon pain to her day. I was scared and had no idea how she would respond, but I decided to say something anyway. I told her how sorry I was that she was treated disrespectfully and that it hurt my heart to see anyone treated the way she was, and I wanted her to know that. We shook hands and I walked away with tears in my eyes.
Who is to blame? All of us and none of us
So why am I sharing this? I’m sharing because so many times uncomfortable situations beg us to speak up and we stay silent. Today I spoke up quietly and hopefully helped a potentially volatile situation. As I watched what happened, I truly felt the volunteer was doing what she thought was best for the Women’s Center. Could she have handled it better? Absolutely, but something tells me that a woman who is volunteering at a Women’s Center at 8am on a Thursday morning is there to make the world a better place, not make anyone feel worse. But she did, and when that happens we have the choice to let it ride or say something. Today I chose to say something kind to everyone I spoke to about it.
How do you want to be in this world?
We have so many offended and angry people in the world right now. We blame and point fingers and act self-righteous in uncomfortable situations, and we forget to be kind to the ones who need it most. This isn’t a racial or political issue. It’s a human one. I read a quote the other day that said, “If you are not kind to unkind people, you are one of them.” The power of that statement takes my breath away. How many times have I responded to unkind people unkindly? More than I care to admit. Of course I justify it by saying that they were a jerk or something worse, but by responding unkindly, I am being like them. Ick!
Take the challenge
Today I chose kindness because that’s how I aspire to be. I feel good about that. I may fail tomorrow like I have many times in the past, but I keep trying, and I challenge each person who reads this to do the same. Be the change, even when the situation is uncomfortable. If you want a kinder world, be kind, even to unkind people. If you want a more loving world, be loving even to unlovable people. Want a happier, calmer, more peaceful world? Be happy, calm and more peaceful even among unhappy, agitated and angry people. Is it easy? Heck no, but it’s worth it. Change the world by changing you first. It’s the most important work you do in this world, and I pray your life gets better because of it. I know mine did. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.