"Treat me with respect and I'll treat you with respect." Or, "if you are kind to me then I will be kind to you." Or even worse, "I only have to be nice to the people that I respect or like." While reason and logic may at first, say, yes these statements are true, why should I respect someone who treats me like garbage? Why should I be nice to that rude lady? She doesn't deserve my kindness because once she was not kind to me. It's an "eye for an eye" in terms of courtesy, respect and love.
Well, I take a different perspective. The perspective that we have no idea what each person is dealing with in their life from day to day.
Everyone's life is a mix of bad and good experiences. And we usually have no idea what others experiences are unless we are very close to them. We treat our close friends and family with an indifference to their quirks and bad behavior because we KNOW what they are going through.
Why do we think we know what others are going through? Why do we treat that rude checkout lady rudely back, when we have no idea what she is going through? Perhaps, usually she is perfectly happy and kind, but she just found out her Dad is dying, and her son hasn't called her in years, and she hasn't received her test results back from her doctor yet and her own health is on her mind. She is scared, sad, and lonely all at the same time in that moment that she was short with you. She didn't mean to be, but she really needed you to stop fussing about your receipt because she was on the verge of tears, and she already took her break and she can't take another or else she could get fired.
That Lady is real. I don't know her personally, but she is out there. She is everyone. At some point in our lives we are her.
There are some days where everything, past, present and future have all balled up in my mind at the same time and it takes great strength not to cry, or yell, or pitch a fit. BUT, I am about to publish a book! I am a mother of 3 healthy kids! I have a supportive husband and family! How could I possibly have anything to cry about? Well, that's the point isn't it? You don't know what I hide. You don't know what you don't know me.
Next time someone greets you with harshness, return it with a smile and a compliment. Next time someone flies off the handle at you, if you can, remain composed and give them kindness. People don't act that way because their lives are uncomplicated and carefree. They are hurting, scared, lonely, angry or tired. And when we are hurting, lonely, scared and tired we hope that people will understand that we don't mean to be rude, we don't mean to be unfriendly. It's just a moment when past, present and future thoughts and worries collide and overwhelm us.