“Be Kind. It Matters.”
In late December, or maybe mid, I can’t be certain, as my brain was muzzy with caffeine and wine and cries for rest, I stumbled on a signature in a political forum. I see many signatures every day, attached to text messages, e-mails, posts, status updates. I’m a little fascinated by signatures, and what they say about the writer. Is it a song lyric? A bit of a poem? An inspirational quote from a famous author? Does the sender use it to shore up an image? Advertise a company or brand? Are they talking to the reader, or are they a personal reminder to the writer?
This signature was brief, just four words long:
Be Kind. It Matters.
Each word was capitalized, the formality of correctness dispensed with in order to stress the importance of each term. I read it as a challenge. It made an impression on me, so much that I decided to add it to my outgoing emails beginning January first. Could I be kind, knowing that to someone…it might really matter?
We’re a week into the new year. It’s been harder than I ever imagined, to have to face that signature, clinging as it does to the bottoms of email replies from friends and colleagues.
…to myself, to people I don’t normally correspond with, to people who have, in the past, hurt my feelings, even when I don’t feel like being kind or nice or think in my own shallow judgement that they (or I) “deserve” it.
…because I don’t really “know” anyone’s thoughts or situation, because I don’t know if someone is ill, or depressed, or hurting, because maybe just someone who is a really good person is having a really bad day.
Sometimes it’s hard to be kind. Even when you know it matters. I wonder how long I’ll be able to leave it as my signature.