My Family (a long time ago)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Kill Them With Kindness

Another post in a series on Famous Family Sayings

One of the ways Mom and Dad tried to help us get along was by the Golden Rule: “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” In a family of nine, that was definitely a great way to live because we really couldn’t be fighting all the time. Oh, the noise! So we did the best we could and tried to get along. However, kids will be kids. We did stupid things, we said stupid things and sometimes we even got in fights. If the Silver Rule was to “Turn the other cheek”, then the Bronze Rule, though somewhat lesser known, was “Kill them with kindness.” If someone was bothering you, or giving you a hard time, or heaven forbid wanted to fight, we were told to “Kill them with kindness.”

I can remember plenty of times when we were playing street hockey, football, wiffle ball, or any of the other assorted games we played in our neighborhood, there was an argument. In the heat of the battle, the following kinds of things were screamed at the top of someone’s lungs: It never went in, it hit the post! You were out of bounds when you caught it! I didn’t swing and miss, I just barely ticked it! I called time because a car was coming! We certainly weren’t following the Bronze Rule in our middle of the street clashes, but most of the time somebody gave in or gave up, and the game went on. However, there were times that someone had had too much of somebody cheating or whining and they almost came to blows. They wanted to kill each other with something but it wasn’t kindness.

It happened to me once. One guy who participated in our epic competitions was a year older than me and about six inches taller than me, and he always had to get his way. Now that I think of it, he was taller than everybody that played in those games. Anyway, if he was losing, you knew he was going to pull something out of nowhere to try and gain the advantage. If you took the ball away in street hockey, you slashed him. If you scored a touchdown, you were offside. One day toward the end of a football game I went out for a pass, he pushed me down from behind before the ball even got there, and then triumphantly yelled, “Incomplete!” Having had enough of his bogus penalties and cheating all day, I jumped up, pushed him back and screamed “Interference!” in his face (of course, my calling of penalties was always justified).

After a couple of more pushes back and forth and some more yelling, our fists were suddenly up in the air and we were ready to rumble. Instead of “Killing him with kindness” I had some other things on my mind that may have worked:

  • A punch of encouragement to the gut. Though not as strong as “Killing him with kindness”, a well-placed punch to the midsection could be just what the doctor ordered – for the one doing the punching, not the one receiving.
  • A heart felt body slam to the ground. Nothing says “You’re a good friend” better than that. Probably not the best option though, seeing as he was about six inches taller than me.
  • A choke hold of good cheer. If I couldn’t “Kill him with kindness” maybe I could have just made him lose consciousness for a minute. That would have cheered me up.
  • A karate chop of compassion to the solar plexus. I should have thought about how hard it must have been to have to cheat and lie in order to always win. Knocking the wind out of him may have helped me have a little more compassion. 

Well, none of that happened. Not one punch was thrown because the two of us waited for the other to throw the first punch, which never came. What did come was his older sister, who pushed us apart, gave us a talking to, and then dragged him home, yelling at him the whole way. After that day we were all way more afraid of her than him.

If I had followed the “Kill them with kindness” rule, I probably would have gotten in a lot less trouble, because there was often someone around that bothered me or gave me a hard time –  brothers and sisters included! On the flip side, with all those people I would have been killing with kindness, that would have also made me a mass murderer. 

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