“I think that it is NOT kind to NOT tell people what is right,” she countered.
Her words gave me pause. Hum…. I significantly respect this cousin (...she is awesome!...) and for good reasons. Her comment was valid. So was my goal. How could that be? How can it be right to be kind instead of being right and unkind to fail to share what is right?
I believe the key, in this case, is that there are different types of wrong. Wrong is not always wrong, just as it is not always right to be right. Now, I am not advocating moral relativism here. I truly believe there is a distinct difference between right and wrong and the difference is absolute and universal. What I am saying is there is a difference between something that is morally wrong and something that should be done differently. Allow me to explain.
It is wrong to allow young children to run unattended into the street or to play unsupervised with fire. To allow them to do so would certainly qualify as unkind on a steroid-amped scale. Sex before marriage and spousal abuse are wrong. Period. To fail to declare them as such would NOT be kind. Period. Kindness must not bow to morality. It has its place. It is possible to be moral and kind. In fact, kindness should always accompany morality (see D&C 121:41-43) but it is not kind to ignore it.
Is it kind to ignore dirty socks on the floor, empty toilet paper rolls on the holder, and empty ice cube trays on the counter? Clearly the right thing to do is put the dirty socks in the hamper, replace the toilet paper, and fill the ice cube trays with water but telling loved ones this is not always the kind...or the right...thing to do.
Sure, filling up the ice cube trays after emptying them is the right thing to do. You emptied them. You should fill them up. Simple. It takes less than a minute to run the trays under the tap, open the freezer door, and set the filled trays in the freezer. Refilling the trays immediately after emptying them makes all kinds of sense. It keeps the empty trays from cluttering the counter and it guarantees there is ice for you the next time you--or someone you love-- need it. It is a matter of common courtesy. And common courtesy is right, right?
When the person emptying the ice cube trays is struggling for emotional survival, when the depression demons are relentlessly attacking, when getting out of bed is a victory and small discouragements are devastating, then ice cube trays are not important. It is NOT kind to remind, no matter how gently or lovingly, to refill the trays. And, in this case, it is not right either.
Who is/was the better president, Trump or Obama? Is Title IX the best thing that happened to college sports or the worst? Is the argument worth the relationship? Does it really matter where you squeeze the toothpaste tube? Really? Should one take Ogden Canyon or go over Trapper’s Loop to get to Huntsville? Both routes arrive….. Is $.02/gallon difference in gas price worth the critical comment? Should I tell the child who is so proud to have painted the hand rail that he missed a small spot?
Choosing to be kind over being right is not limited to those dealing with depression. Being kind over being right applies to the husband who forget to pick up the milk, the wife who left the gasoline tank in the car empty, and the teen who parked skiwampus in the church lot. In fact, being kind is not limited at all. In many (probably not all but maybe most….) situations, where there are differences of opinion, differences of administration, and/or differences of application, choosing to be kind over being right is right.
I choose to be kind over being right because it is the right thing to do…..most of the time.**
“Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)
**Actually, I am trying to choose being kind over being right and I hope I do it most of the time. I am a work in progress. :)