How to Practice Kindness in a Cruel World

I am both Pro-life and Pro-choice. I see abortion as a necessary evil; and  my heart lies with women who need one. Kindness  requires thinking carefully.

Practice Kindness Emotional Fitness Poster Coach

I  directed a small social service department at Woman’s Hospital in New York City before and after Roe Versus Wade changed access to abortion. I saw all the horror illegal abortions inflicted. I also accompanied several friends to well-paid high priced illegal abortions before abortion became legal. Those personal experiences tilted me toward wanting women to have a choice, but accepting that it should never be a quick choice, but a thoughtful one.

Here is a relevant  story about how personal experiences shape thought and behavior. During my years at Women’s Hospital, I worked closely with Bernard Nathanson. In case you do not know who he is, here is what Wikepedia says about him:

… was an American medical doctor from New York, co-founder in 1969 of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws — NARAL — later renamed National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws. Dr. Bernard Nathanson was also the former director of New York City’s Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health, but later became a pro-life activist. He was the narrator for the controversial 1984 anti-abortion film The Silent Scream.

The Silent Scream aided the Pro-life Movement, by providing graphic images to support viewing emerging life as equal to existing life. I do not equate the two.

What caused Bernie, as I called him, to switch horses in such a divisive and stormy stream?  He married and became a father.

I am pro abortion until the baby can easily survive outside the mother’s womb.

I believe in a Higher Power and I am a religious Jew having converted after my marriage in 1974.   Jewish orthodox law does not forbid abortion, at times may require it, but also places restrictions on it and is no friend of abortion-on-demand. Moreover, there are minority and majority opinions on the subject as on so many Jewish laws.

Personal experiences are the bed rock of the beliefs we hold closest to our hearts. Personal experiences with the sorrow of woman needing or getting or regretting an abortion formed my bias. Bernie’s personal experiences with those women also lead to his championing abortion rights. Then, he did not regard a fetus as the equivalent of existing life. Eventually,  another powerful personal experience converted him to different way of thinking.

EMOTIonal Fitness training tips

Emotional Fitness Tip one: The more passionately you hold a belief, the more likely that belief is biased. Most serious students of human behavior agree it is impossible to be objective. Jerome Kagan,  one of the most influential developmental psychologists of the 20th century, admitted even the most objective researcher could not be objective. Foolish to think you can be, better to know you are biased and in what direction.

Emotional Fitness Training Tip two:  Know the personal experiences that lead you to your passionate beliefs.

Here is another controversial issues. “Black Lives Matter” versus “All Lives Matter.”What experiences do you have relating to this controversy? White and you will probably want all lives to matter. Black you will naturally be on the other side. A criminal and you enjoy the war on the police. A police officier and you want stronger enforcement of laws against criminals.

I once took a test that showed I identify more with blacks than whites. That was years ago and probably not an evidenced based test. I do know however, the two personal experiences that shaped my answers.

The first: Three dominant voices of authority in my life. Voices of authority are a potent influence in creating passionate beliefs. My two parents stood strong against prejudice before it was popular to do so. Very interesting as my father’s ancestors were most likely slave owners and my mother’s mother was one of the most prejudiced people I have ever encountered.  I suspect my mother did not want to be like her mother, I know I did.

The second personal experience was my mentoring by Thomas Hardy, a low man on the totem pole of most measures of success, but the best of men in the things that matter.

Thomas Hardy

I met this man while learning to ride. I was twelve or thirteen. He took me to his heart, guided me through my teens and young adult years. Loving him and being loved by him  was pivotal in my becoming who I became and hopefully who I remain.

Emotional Fitness Training Tip three: Know that every act of kindness, may contain cruelty somewhere and to someone.  Act kindly anyway. You will make a difference in the smaller things where you can be almost certain, the kindness outweighs any cruelty. At the same time do not neglect trying to be kind in the wider world, but do so thoughtfully. Particularly when others are speaking passionately about an issue or playing on emotion.

parenting advice

I frequently talk about the need to understand age and stage. Equally important is understanding temperament. This NYTimes article “Understanding the Anxious Mind” should be read by all parents, but particularly by parents with a shy or anxious child.  So my advice for now_ take the time to read this one. You will better understand your child. If you are anxious or shy or introverted, you will also better understand yourself.

The hopeful note in the article is that there are ways temperament can be moderated and the earlier one realizes that, the better for the child. Temperament is an area were the middle way is probably the best way.

I am as my mother said, “A Worry Wart.” She also said, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” while prodding me to take some risks. Why I could appear on Oprah withoutanxiety getting in the way.

THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO

You can  Practice Kindness right now by sharing all you find of value on the internet including this post.  All crave recognition. A like says “Thank You.”Comments say you have read and thought about the post.Sharing is a gift to three people: the blogger, the people you share with, and you for your kindness bless you.Stay strong, it is not always easy.

Katherine

This post was inspired partly by this  WordPress Daily Prompt – Community Service – Your entire community — however you define that; your hometown, your neighborhood, your family, your colleagues — is guaranteed to read your blog tomorrow. Write the post you’d like them all to see.

The subject was also inspired by attacks on me for seeming to be Pro-Choice and a liberal by some and a Tea Party Girl by others. I try to be neither, but to think deeply about divisive issues and to challenge others to do the same.

LINKS OF INTEREST

These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.

 

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