LETTERS: Practise indiscriminate kindness

Take a moment right now. Imagine what it would be like if last week’s weather havoc was a relentless daily assault.

Take a moment right now. Imagine what it would be like if last week’s weather havoc was a relentless daily assault.

Now imagine – no, be aware – that that’s just what it’s like for some of your friends, and neighbours, and relatives, and maybe even you. Only it’s worse. It’s not from weather’s assault, but from assaultive spouses, and rapists, and murderers, and just plain mean-spirited people and groups of people.

Saturday, Dec. 6 was Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Part of my job is to help  raise our community’s awareness about this real onslaught; to remind, and educate, and hopefully motivate you –  individually and collectively – to take preventative action. We need to help stop this kind of cold-hearted assault.

Women continue to be the major recipients of it, followed by children. But we know that frigid, blustery, cruel-hearted havoc can be directed to anyone, of any gender, any age, any race, in every season of the year. It is the chilling reality. It happens on our nation’s highways, in our public schools and in closed-door homes on the streets where we live. It’s the way some human beings treat other human beings and it’s never okay. We all know that.

If you were living in our valley a few years ago you’ll remember seeing posters all over town saying “WANTED! A few (hundred) Good Men!” They were the launch of an initiative to encourage males age 16 and older to join their names to others, speaking out about violence against women and children.

Over a hundred of us signed up. Just that simple act made a difference. Those men helped us to secure government financial grants that led to a counselling program offering support to spousal abusers who wanted to stop their abusive behaviours. It was called Change For Good. And it helped people throughout the South Okanagan/Similkameen to do just that.

Two posters helped in that effort. The first, you may recall, carried the bold red print words STOP IT! It was meant to capture the attention of abusers, and challenge them to change.

The second poster read CHANGE FOR GOOD, publicizing the availability of help. We expected men to respond, but women did too. And it reminded us that men can also be victims, and wives can be abusers.

Then we published another poster. Some of them still remain. It both challenged and reminded all of us to  practise kindness. In fact, there are many of us who do. Undeniably that’s a good thing, and it even feels good, to the giver as well as the receiver. Yet it’s amazing how many of us are selectively kind. That is, we practise kindness sometimes, to some people. Other times we’re just kind of neutral on the kindness scale. We practise random kindness. That lets the door open. We can then also practise unkindness, or random unkindness.

That’s why our poster actually said “PRACTISE indiscriminate KINDNESS.”

“Indiscriminate” was in small print. And that made the poster not just a reminder, but a challenge.

The challenge is, “Don’t just practise kindness to those who deserve it, but also to those who need it.”

That’s harder. But if it weren’t, it wouldn’t be a challenge. Yet isn’t this true: If every one of us were to practise indiscriminate kindness, that would be the ultimate solution? That would indeed end the violence.

‘Tis The Season. The holy holidays are upon us. Peace on earth, good will to all.  Let me challenge you, and also remind myself:  Let’s make practicing indiscriminate kindness our New Year’s resolution.

Deliberately, consciously, intentionally, day by day, with and to everyone – practise kindness and encourage others to join you.

Ron Shonk
RCMP Victim Services Coordinator,
On behalf of our valley’s Proactive Violence Prevention Project