Intersections – Remembering the goodNicki Salcedo
By Nicki Salcedo, contributor
Say what you will about religion, but sitting through church teaches you to listen. I remember one particular sermon that has stayed with me through my life. It went something like this.
Can you name an actor or actress who won the Academy Award last year? What about two years ago or five years ago? Think about it for a little while. Don’t look it up. People who are into movie trivia might be able to guess, but for most of us it is an impossible question to answer without help.
Now what would happen if I asked you to name your 1st grade teacher? What about your 2nd grade or 5th grade teachers? How easy is it to remember the names of those people even though they were in your life a long time ago? Why can’t you recall the Oscar winners from last year?
Impressions are made by personal connections to our lives. Impressions are made when we experience kindness.
I’m sure the rest of the sermon involved Jesus. Say what you will about religion, but you’ve never heard anyone call Jesus a jerk.
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I’m trying to raise my kids without them ever knowing about Trump or Kanye. It’s not easy. It’s like being on a diet and then everywhere you turn it’s Donald this, the Kardashians that, and a bunch of donuts in the breakroom.
Eccentric and over the top is one thing. Mean is another. I cannot tolerate rudeness or disrespectful behavior in my house. I can’t have it modeled by outsiders.
That sermon about the kindness of Jesus has always made me think about other people through history who we remember for their kindness. I imagined Buddha and Florence Nightingale and Oskar Schindler and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mother Teresa and Jimmy Carter.
For some, kindness is considered weakness. For others, anger and arrogance are considered strength. Do you remember the names of the pharaohs? They built the pyramids, and we can’t remember their names.
Rude and indulgent and self-serving should not be accepted in our role models and leaders.
I had a lively debate with some friends when they found out that my child is enrolled in “cotillion” which is now aptly named “profession prep.” I joked that it isn’t as racist, classist, or sexist as it seemed, and this created a firestorm of debate.
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I get it. In the olden days it was a bunch of white, rich people telling ladies they should only aspire to have babies and keep a clean house.
The new cotillion is about manners and social graces and preparing kids for college and the work world. If we’re really being honest, it still isn’t that diverse. But if we are really being honest, I don’t always care about perceived gender roles and being in perfectly diverse situations. I create my own gender norms, and I’m never in perfectly diverse situations.
I hate politics and the media. I am fatigued of the entire process. I never claim any political party, but I thinking voting is critical. I’ve been told that I’m not the progressive monster some readers thought I was. Yay! I’m a conservative moderate with liberal social leanings. They don’t have a name for my party yet.
Even entertainers have to literally fight and be rude to gain attention. Nobody wants to be known for being nice to people. For putting other people’s needs before our own. That’s a shame.
Ever since hearing that sermon about kindness, I’ve made an effort to remember people who have been good to me. It’s been easy.
When my car was out of gas and the credit card machines were down at the gas station, a man walked up and slammed down a $5 bill on the counter. “It’s for her,” he said as he gestured to me and walked out.
The time I was on MARTA and was offered a seat by a teenager someone else would have called a thug.
Being on the airplane and heavy with child when a young woman hoisted my suitcase into the overhead bin.
Do I want my son to hold the door open for you? Yes, I do. Do I want my daughter to do the same? Yes. We have forgotten to teach our kids little things that will have big ramifications later. There is nothing wrong with letting someone walk in a door before you do. Opportunities don’t begin and end based on being first.
People are kind everywhere I go. I can never document all of the good things that happen to me each day. But I remember. I don’t aspire to be like the pharaohs. They built something big, but at what cost? Only to have their names forgotten. I used to think that forgetting was a bad thing.
“Intersections,” the book, is a collection of columns from Decaturish.com and beyond. It is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a novelist, blogger, and a working mom. Her column, Intersections, runs every Wednesday morning.
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