GENDUSA COLUMN: Kindness Does Matter

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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Grayson Murray, a 30-year-old professional golfer, ended his life. He suffered for years with depression and anxiety, and for reasons unknown, he decided to cease the pain.

His parents released a statement that concluded, “Please honor Grayson by being kind to one another. If that becomes his legacy, we could ask for nothing else.”

I have long believed that people who suffer from depression are often extremely sensitive to unkindness and insult. I am one of them, so I understand. Throughout my lifetime of dealing with depression and anxiety, nothing has affected me more than meanness. Truthfully, if it had not been for new advances in medicine for clinical depression, I, like Grayson, would not be here.

Faith in God, love for my children, a good doctor, and a daily pill allowed me to endure the storms of broken hearts and misdeeds. Thank goodness my parents never needed to write a note.

It can be really hard for friends and family to understand suicide and the reasons behind it. I often explain to people, “You just don’t know what it’s like unless you’ve experienced the struggle to find happiness.”  It’s something we have to work on every day. We’re deeply affected by the world’s sorrows and the words others say or fail to express, more than most people realize.

Lately, I have been feeling a deep sense of anguish for our nation that has become desensitized to the rhetoric and abusive tactics employed to seize power. The way Donald Trump can rile up a crowd with disparaging remarks about anyone he dislikes is truly deplorable. However, he is not the only one who appears comfortable with winning by appealing to the worst aspects of human nature.

Bullying can lead to suicide, and those who engage in such behavior are responsible for the consequences. Young people who are traumatized by bullying on social media may resort to suicide to escape the pain inflicted by others. Words such as “loser,” “ugly,” “dumb,” and “no-good,” whether written or spoken, can be as harmful as daggers. It’s important to remember that words do matter.

Taunting, teasing, demeaning tactics, bias, and blame are often the weapons used to crush a spirit and harm a soul. Most of us have the strength to avoid them or fight back, but some do not. They cut deep and leave many unable to move forward. Not everyone is the same, and not everyone can handle unkindness.  Our character does matter.

When negativity in the world overshadows integrity and compassion, we all suffer. When winning outweighs caring for others, we all lose. Human kindness must never be defeated, and each person must try to extend the hand of goodness. That is how we can save all of us and, thus, our nation.

Our behavior is often conflicting. People may help the less fortunate, sincerely pray for others, and then post something unkind online, all within a single day. Many individuals are generally thoughtful and well-liked, but their biases become evident occasionally. We are all flawed, but we should not spread negativity, distrust, doubt, and fear to others.

Our hearts can be well even when our brains are struggling with depression. Our spirits are trying to survive, and we sincerely care for others. We are often labeled as mentally ill, but sometimes, the person whose brain is fine but whose heart feels no remorse, no shame, and who spreads hatred is far more unwell. And there is no pill to cure such a disease.

We must embrace the best parts of ourselves, let them shine, and witness God’s approval as we do so. We can help a struggling soul or heal a broken heart. The reward of saving a child from despair and showing them that tomorrow can be beautiful far surpasses anything else we may achieve.

Be good to one another, be compassionate, and treat others with dignity because, yes, Grayson, kindness does matter.

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” Ralph Waldo Emerson