Making America Kind Again

A great friend of mine is the mother of a special needs child.  A few days ago she posted a plea on Facebook for kindness.  It was my intention to write about kindness for my Sunday journal, but I don’t think I can make the point better than she did.

“ALWAYS show kindness to people because you just never know what they may be going through…people only see the surface of other’s lives, when in reality, many people live with struggles that most people are unaware of and things unfathomable to the typical person or family.

For us, most people see our precious family as happy, happy, happy, which we ARE and we are blessed BUT…no one knows the struggles, meltdowns, battles, etc. that often occur when trying to get to church, work, family functions, the barber or anywhere! People don’t understand the disruptive behavior that can often ruin a function, family or otherwise…people don’t understand that, as the parents of a special needs child with autism and active seizures, who will always be a child no matter his age (24), we literally live every day with our hearts half shattered with pain as we navigate this life doing the best we know how to protect, love and care for this gift of a child we’ve been blessed with. That said, there are tons of parents in this world living through worse situations than we are, tons of people with unspoken struggles that they keep private…KINDNESS is free and can make a huge difference in someone’s day, hour and life!!!”

Perhaps our greatest gift is the ability to be kind.  There is not one person on earth without this inherent capability.  How then do we tap into it at times when we are angry, disappointed, dismissed or rejected?  It is the matter of a conscious decision to reach into our hearts and offer it.  We can do this.  Everyone is fighting difficulties and suffers in their own way despite what might be seen in their demeanor.  Those we touch with tender kindness will be restored and renewed.  We will be remembered for the beauty that we leave behind and our actions will be the talk of generations to come.

“Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.” ~ George Sand

Robert Kenneth Jones is an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse.

In a career spanning over four decades, his work helping people recover from childhood abuse and addiction has earned him the respect of his peers.

His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.

Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin

Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast

Finding My Neighbor

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We become neighbors when we are willing to cross the road for one another.  There is so much separation and segregation: between black people and white people, between gay people and straight people, between young people and old people, between sick people and healthy people, between prisoners and free people, between Jews and Gentiles, Muslims and Christians, Protestants and Catholics, Greek Catholics and Latin Catholics.  There is a lot of road crossing to do. ~ Henri Nouwen

Who is my neighbor? The question is never satisfied with a qualified answer. For some reason we struggle with it in so many ways.  Gun violence and murder in our schools, Black lives matter, Blue lives matter, and a cry of #metoo all plead the same question.  It has resonated in the hearts of people for more than two thousand years.  It can even be found as a scriptural directive.

Bishop Michael Curry told us about the great commandment of love at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.  He said; “Jesus of Nazareth on one occasion was asked by a lawyer to sum up the essence of the teachings of Moses, and he went back and reached back into the Hebrew scriptures to Deuteronomy and Leviticus and Jesus said you shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.”

The Good Samaritan shows us how to become a neighbor.  He crosses the road to help a stranger and takes the risk of reaching out to a perceived enemy.  The injured victim becomes a neighbor.  He is given kindness and compassion by a stranger where he had been ignored or avoided by his own people.  The neighbor generously rises above community expectations and common practice both in giving and receiving.

Who is my neighbor today?  Possibilities for an answer will be presented to us around every corner.  We will have chances to cross the road on more than one occasion.  That friend who has become an irritation is waiting for the hand of forgiveness.  The young person who looked so threatening could use an encouraging word.

The one who celebrates a religious practice unlike our own can be asked to lunch for an enlightening exchange of ideas.  The person of another race seeks our genuine brotherhood.  We cannot hope to receive love if we are not willing to give it.  We cannot claim to be members of the human family if we do not rise above that which causes separation.  We must cross the road and become a neighbor.

The world is waiting. Someday we will discover that everyone is our neighbor.

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Photo by Elijah Macleod on Unsplash

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Robert Kenneth Jones is an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse.

In a career spanning over four decades, his work helping people recover from childhood abuse and addiction has earned him the respect of his peers.

His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.

Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin

Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast

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The Reverence of Kindness

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“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” ~ Mother Teresa

We have the wonderful opportunity to bring a message of kindness, hope and joy where we might have inflicted damage and beaten others down in the past. We are all starved for such words and so richly blessed when we hear them. 

I wonder what it might be like, or what sort of kindnesses we might extend if we recognized God in the face of everyone we meet.  Can you imagine the awe we might have for one another?  The reality that each of us is created in the image of God should be enough to at least give us pause. 

The stranger, the wounded, and even the arrogant people would become our beloved relative.  This is not some dreamy illusion but is a spiritual truth.  The only thing lacking is our reverence.  It is reverence that identifies the sacred.  And the sacred surrounds each and every one of us.

“Kindness, I’ve discovered, is everything in life.” ~ Isaac Bashevis Singer

Our mission is to treat each other very well.  The final words attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi were ‘brothers, while there is still time, let us do good’.  This means that kindness and compassion should always be our lot. 

We can only do this sort of good when we are filled with reverence and awe for the very fact that the other is our relative, our dear, found relative.  Kindness, gratitude and gentleness will become second nature. 

Love will replace suspicion and guardedness will be exchanged for generosity.  We cannot afford to waste time arguing and grasping for personal power, control and relevance.  Now is the time to seek God in the present moment, in the hearts and eyes of our fellow travelers, and in the hands that long for our touch.

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[/et_pb_text][et_pb_team_member name=”Robert Kenneth Jones” position=”Columnist” image_url=”https://chaplainusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/robert.jpg” facebook_url=”https://www.facebook.com/KenJonesBoy” linkedin_url=”https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-kenneth-jones-8861183/” admin_label=”Robert Kenneth Jones” _builder_version=”3.0.101″ global_module=”26968″ saved_tabs=”all”]

Robert Kenneth Jones is an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse.

In a career spanning over four decades, his work helping people recover from childhood abuse and addiction has earned him the respect of his peers.

His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.

Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin

Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast

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