Columnist: Political correctness vs human kindness

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 19, 2015

Lynn Walker Gendusa

Contributing columnist

Have you ever thought that if we practiced being kind we wouldn’t need “political correctness?”

The term “political correctness” seems shallow to me. We are supposed to stop and think about the group we could be offending before we speak. Kindness, however, should be within us in a much deeper place to cause us not to offend anyone.

My grandmother was simply the best person I have ever known. She was what we call “the salt of the earth.” Humble beginnings, humble spirit and humble to all people and to God.

She quietly made her mark on this world through the generations that followed. I have said there are some people that you know when they get to heaven’s gate, St. Peter exclaims, “Oh, it’s you!! Just go on in, there are no questions!” She was one of them.

When I was a very little girl she taught me something that has stayed with me. In the small towns of Tennessee long ago men would gather around the court house on Saturdays while the women would shop. They would whittle wood, smoke pipes and usually the talk was about the Bible and politics.

Since everyone knew I never had a shy bone in my body, I would just go up to all of them and start talking as if I were one of them. Once I came across a man who was dirty and he reeked of alcohol.

I went to my grandmother quickly and told her about the man. I just didn’t understand how he could be so “icky.”

“Well, Lynn, you see before you can rule this man bad, you have to walk a mile in his shoes. You never know where they have been and what he felt while he was there.” As she said that, she reached in her purse and pulled out her change, and gave it to me saying, “Go over and give him this, and say “God bless.”

That is human kindness. It is taught early in life and it is taught humbly and gently in countless ways. I think everyone of us desire to be kind, but competition, need for control, needing to be “right,” and the feeling that someone “owes” us something is drowning the spirit of kindness.

Kindness has everything to do with who you are. It has everything to do with how you interact with folks. It is the core of your altruism, it is a grounding rod for faith and it is the mark you will leave on this earth.

I am appalled at the politicians that make the claim they believe in God, yet slam a competitor with vitriol. I am mortified at radio and TV shows that we listen to and hear the hatred being thrown, not at a group — because that would be politically incorrect — but at a person with force. That is unkindness.

It is very condescending to me when I am expected to vote for a leader because they try to convince me, through rhetoric, that another candidate is horrible. I am not an idiot and I doubt you are either.

We are not barbaric, we are civilized. We have gone to school, and most of us, have been “raised better than that.” I turn off the radio when I hear vitriol.

I don’t vote for people who think I have no understanding of humanity. We all would prefer to hear how they would lead the country rather than how they can destroy the citizens of it.

If political correctness is a new powerful term, and kindness is trivial and “namby pamby,” then let’s ask God to define the terms. What do you think He would say?

Many years back I worked for a little bank with nine employees. The president of the bank was also the head of the Democratic Party of Georgia. (Let me interject here, I am an Independent and always have been.)

We had politicians come to see him on a fairly regular basis. Mr. Farr was like a second father to me at that time and he needed to be because I never could balance my cash box! He knew I was working and going to school full time so he would give me some slack. I would be the one that would always greet people as they walked through the door because he knew I loved people, just not math.

One day a gentleman walked to my teller window and said, “I have a lunch meeting with Mr. Farr.” He gave me his name and I summoned my boss. I thought they were going to the little diner down the street as usual. Once the pair had retreated to an office, I went to the back of the bank in a tiny little closet break room.

The room consisted of a two-seater chrome and vinyl sofa, a card table with a coffee pot and a student fridge underneath it. “Little” is not the word for this room. “Tiny” is better. I pulled out my loaf of white bread, my banana, my mayo and a small bag of chips and started to prepare my lunch.

Just as I was peeling the banana, Mr. Farr poked his head in and said, “What have you got for lunch and can we share?”

“I thought you were going to the diner and eat fried chicken! I only have one banana, mayo, some slices of white bread and a few chips.”

“OK, then that is good, we have enough to make that work!” he said. At that point I thought, well, there went my lunch and started to walk back to my teller window.

“No, Lynn, don’t go, we are going to share!”

“Yes,” the other gentleman said, “just slice the banana thin and we can do it.”

So I prepared three sandwiches out of that lone banana, put them on our paper plates and started to take my plate to my station where I would discreetly eat my lunch.

“No, no, you stay with us. We can make room on the sofa,” Mr. Farr said as he stopped me. So, I wedged myself between the two of them and we discussed the political realm of Georgia, my design school and poured over wallet photos of our visitor’s children.

I listened intently and realized it was way past my lunch hour, but Mr. Farr would not let me leave. Finally, we walked back to the lobby.

The visitor hugged me goodbye. He was a kind man. He had not minded at all when I would give my input even though I was just a slightly grown kid.

As he walked toward the doors to leave I turned to walk toward my teller station, but Mr. Farr grabbed my arm.

“Lynn, watch him walk through that door. Remember today, because one day you will be able to tell your grandchildren about this.”

The visitor was Jimmy Carter, and he was just thinking that he might run for governor one day.

Now, a lot of folks never thought him to be a great president, but there are not many that would argue the fact that he is kind. Mr. Farr, a kind man, cared enough about a 21 year old’s memories more than he cared about me missing half an hour at the teller window.

Political correctness was not a term either of them used. You see, they didn’t need to.

Lynn Walker Gendusa is a former LaGrange resident who currently resides in Roswell.