The virtue needed most today

Sam Ochstein


Photo by Mei-Ling Mirow on Unsplash

There’s a sign in someone’s yard on the route my wife and I regularly walk. It’s painted blue and red and proclaims in bold white letters: JUST BE KIND.

I like that sign.

And even though I don’t know the people who live in that house and made that sign, I like them too.

Because anyone who goes through the trouble of making and posting a sign that says JUST BE KIND is probably the kind of people I want to be around.

Kindness is contagious, after all. When we experience kindness or see kindness demonstrated, we’re more likely to go and do likewise.

Kindness makes the world a better place. And hopefully, we’d all agree the world could always be a little bit better.

Maybe it’s just me but it seems there’s a dearth of kindness in our culture today. And I think that’s why the sign in the yard is so poignant.

We could blame the Internet and its propensity for depersonalized interactions with others in which people often rage in ways they would likely not do in person-to-person, face-to-face conversation.

We could blame the media.

We could blame “fake news” — whether real or imagined fake news.

We could blame our partisan politics and inflamed rhetoric.

We could blame Trump and conservatives if we’re more liberal.

Or we could blame Pelosi and Democrats if we’re more conservative.

We could blame all kinds of things for lack of kindness.

After all, the Internet, the media, politics, and everything else that we’re saturated with as persons living in the 21st Century form and shape us in profound ways.

They inform our worldview and, depending on our proclivities and convictions, tell us who and what’s acceptable and what’s not. And all this shapes how we interact with one another, how we listen (or don’t) to one another, and how we talk (or don’t) to one another.

Here’s what troubles me most.

Somehow we’ve gotten to the place where disagreement has led to demonization.



Sam Ochstein

Former Pastor | Reader | Writer | Walker | Whiskey Lover | Contemplative Extrovert | MMin, MATS