I don’t remember much from kindergarten other than a cute boy named Tide.
I do, however, remember my teacher. More specifically, I remember she used the word, “kind” a lot.
She’d put the word into questions:
- “Heather, was it kind of you to play that trick on Maureen?”
- “Class, can we be kind to the new student? “
- “Shall we be kind and let the volunteers have the first pick of goodies we made?”
She was very clear about the word in her statements, too.
- “It was kind of you to help Susan with her bags.”
- “I do not think you were being kind when didn’t let Rachel join you.”
- “Being kind gets more friends than being unkind.”
Doesn’t she sound like a good teacher? I thought so. Truth be told, I loved her, so much so that I started stalking her!
I sat close to her at lunchtime, I hovered around her and the other teachers during recess, and I sought her out during community activities. I was so happy she didn’t shoo me off like most adults did, and I thought she was terrific. That is, I thought she was terrific until I began to hear the other way she used the word, kind.
- “I can’t believe we have to deal with that kind of kid.”
- “When you let those kind in, the whole school suffers.”
- “Have you seen what those kind of people eat? Who knows what they put in it!”
While I didn’t have a name for what I was seeing at the time, I later learned of the word: duplicitous.
My beloved teacher gave us the impression that she was kind, but her true self was displayed when she didn’t think we were watching.
But I was watching!
And honestly, it was hard, very very hard, to reconcile what I was learning from my beloved teacher with what my mother and the other adults were trying to implant into my mind, my heart and my values.
I was lucky – the latter group was more influential.
You may wonder why I’m thinking about something that happened so many years ago. Well, it appears to be playing out in many ways today.
- The person who is respectful to everyone at work by day but by night, carries a tiki torch and a noose.
- The Christian who sings “All Are Welcome” angelically next to you at church on Sunday but votes adamantly against the protection of the LGBTQ community on Tuesday.
- The community leader who actively donates thousands of dollars to social service programs and fully enjoys that tax benefit each year! But then refers to the beneficiaries as lazy, greedy or otherwise not worthy of financial assistance.
- The supervisor who claims integrity is everything but yet cuts corners when it comes to safety or fair pay.
- The elected official who pledges to serve, protect and give voice to his/her constituents but refuses to hold town meetings or meet one-on-one with voters.
Indeed, duplicity is everywhere, and in very influential networks.
And an entire generation is looking.
I challenge you to call it out!
Look within yourself, of course, and make sure that all of your figurative sides are aligned, but when you’re ready, join me in calling it out. There is simply too much at stake to be silent.
The next generation is watching – let’s ensure they are seeing the right things.