By Lissa Blake
By Lissa Blake

      I encountered a woman the other day who was wearing a shirt that said, “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”

Good message, I thought. It seemed simple enough.

I went online to look for the origin of this musing and came upon some postings by the author, Jennifer Dukes Lee. Looks like some sort of inspirational Christian guru/speaker/blogger/author with a serious number of Internet followers.

After a few moments, her litany of Christian messages got a little too joyous and syrupy for me, so I navigated away from her page (but I still had to give her props for the “be kind” message.) I’m sure some people would not give her credit, maybe because of her Christian ramblings. 

It seems to me that over and over again, Christian talking heads appear convinced that kindness is reserved for only those who think as they do, when everyone knows people who go to church every Sunday and start cutting down their friends before they’re back to their cars.

I can’t really abide by the thought that kindness and good behavior have anything to do with a specific religion.

But then again, there is so much about this country that is generally never entirely agreed upon.

Look around. This world is rife with a heightened level of disagreement, dissimilitude, etc. about things like faith and politics.

Take, for instance, the 200-plus-year-old debate about the religious leanings of the founding fathers.

Were we a nation founded “under God”? Evidence points to any and every possibility, but further research reveals the original group was likely just one big hot mess of religious diversity when it came to their belief systems. They were hardly garden-variety anything, let alone Christians, Quakers or deists. Will we ever really know? Probably not.

Does it matter? To me it doesn’t, but some would let their opponent draw blood before conceding defeat on this subject.

It mattered to President Eisenhower, in 1954, when he allowed the phrase “under God” to be added to the Pledge of Allegiance. And two years later when he signed a law declaring “In God We Trust” to be the nation’s official motto.

I have to say, I tend to lean toward those who would have us return to the days of e pluribus unum (“out of many, one”) -- a few years ago there was a petition on to go back to that as our nation’s motto -- because I think it speaks more to the melting pot function this great country was founded on.

I don’t really care whether you’re a Roman Catholic, Universalist Unitarian, Satanist or a member of the Manson family, you have to admit the concept of unity also is a stellar message.

Which brings me back to kindness, which I realize becomes rarer and maybe even harder to practice in a world with a president whose na-na-na-boo-boo rhetoric continues to divide, rather than unite its people.

But I digress …

The bottom line is the way people treat each other is continuing to devolve at an alarming rate. News of terrible deeds outpace the good ones, which I fear is leading to a world in which pandemonium will prevail.

What will we do about it?

I’m certainly not someone who begins to pretend to have any good ideas about how to change other people and their bad habits. I can barely manage my own.

But I do know what I can do about it, and that’s try harder to be less critical and condemning of those around me … even if I’m having a really bad day … even if they’re really torquing me off.

What can you do?

Anything you want. Because after all, it’s still a free country, under God -- or not.