Programming, kindness, rambling...

Old 02-22-2013, 05:54 PM
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Programming, kindness, rambling...

The subject matter of this post may not be a perfect fit for this forum but I would be grateful if some leniency were afforded it.

I am an athiest in recovery. That said, I try to live what I would call a spiritual life. Doing so is important to my continued recovery as a person. I find myself struggling on occassion to determine morality devoid of external programming. By way of example:

Is killing another wrong? Another what? Human? Sentient being? And yet we, as a society, honor those who come back from war where they participated in killing. Within my society, we still engage in the death penalty. What do I think, feel, etc., about the subject? It is so easy to become a victim of familial and social programming. Even those who have hacked their own brains and deprogrammed themselves in one area of their lives can fall victim to programming in another.

So what does that have to do with anything? Glad you stuck around long enough to ask...

What is kindness? I don't even need to look in the dictionary for this one...taking a guess here: 1. the state or quality of being kind. Super helpful eh? Okay, let's look at just plain old 'kind'.

1. Of a friendly, generous, or warm-hearted nature.
2. Showing sympathy or understanding; charitable: a kind word.
3. Humane; considerate: kind to animals.

I'm taught to be honest as a child as well as kind. So what exactly do I tell my grandmother whose best cooking days are long past when she asks me how dinner was? Or my wife when she asks if this dress makes her look fat? Ah yes, white these cases kindness is more important that truth. That is, unless she's going to wear the dress somewhere that she needs to impress and then the aforementioned kindness looks an awful lot like someones behavior that is trying to set her up to fail.

I read a Dear Abby column in the seventies where a fellow had wrote in and explained that on Christmas Eve he bought a number of bottles of good wine and went downtown and passed them out to the wino's. He was trying to be kind - but Christmas time can be a pretty emotional time for people. Might he have simply saved someone from their bottom they might have hit that night? Abby, for what it's worth, agreed with me.

Certainly he was being friendly and generous. He clearly was being sympathetic and understanding at some level. There are other levels though. As our understanding grows, our way of looking at the world changes and our attempts at a kind act sometimes does complete 180's.

Good example, there is no doubt many Christians who wholeheartedly believe that they are behaving kindly when they proslytize to those of us who are not interested. Too, I work in an industry that is surrounded by tipping. I am constantly amazed by the ignorance of the twenty-something waitress in a revealing outfit gushing about how kind the forty-something guy was who stiffs all the male servers but just tipped her a $20 for a $10 order.

I've lived long enough though to realize that I have area's in my own life in which I am just as blind.

So, how do you practice kindness? Is kindness an illusion for any being that is not omniscient? Is it better to do nothing? Should we, or rather I, simply aspire for ever deeper levels of looking at the world and stay out of it?

Anyway, just rambling in a forum in which I can rest comfortable in knowing that someone is not going to tell me to pray about it.
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Old 02-22-2013, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by legna
I find myself struggling on occassion to determine morality devoid of external programming.
Well I think that certain situations are called moral dilemmas for this very reason.

I read my students a book entitled Shiloh. The storyline goes that a boy encounters a dog who is being abused by it's owner. The boy ends up stealing the dog, hiding him away, and lying to his parents and the dog's owner about it. He steals food too to feed the dog. He saves the dog from certain death. It is fascinating to see children turn this over in their minds...when they are confronted with a situation where "wrong" is suddenly "right" and "right" is suddenly very "wrong".

Stealing and lying are obviously wrong...but are there times when stealing and lying are justified? Then what of vigilantism?

I can't believe you just posted this. I just posted on a different thread about my increasing "intolerance of intolerance". My anger toward those who espouse hate is not hidden from anyone who knows me IRL. I'm very vocal about it (ha imagine that) but as I said in the other returning hate, I am no different than they. So I think on this alot.

Thank you for posting this legna. These kind of "ramblings" are the reason I joined SR.
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Old 02-22-2013, 06:28 PM
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I love this topic. Love the topic of ethics.

I feel kindness is critical. On the subject of kindness I always try to keep in mind how my behavior may impact another. Just a little gesture can change the direction of another's day. I always remember "be the change I wish to see". I don't always succeed and have to make sure that in being a good force in the world I am not allowing myself to be trampled over. Something I have had trouble with.

I am not religious. I am against the death penalty. Sometimes I become frustrated with the religious individuals in my life picking and choosing from the bible to support their stand. Especially on topics like marriage, punishments, etc.

For me personally, to live in truth and avoid hypocrisy is a cornerstone. Especially in sobriety.

Regarding things like white lies, ie grandmas cooking...I let that be. I let kindness guide there.

I have kind of developed my own code for life as the years pass. Actually write a lot and that helps me to ponder and get a bit of clarity.

Sorry for the ramble.
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Old 02-23-2013, 04:37 AM
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this is a big issue for me as well.

The first thing that came to mind for me was the story in buddhism where a master was in a room where a bird had flown in the window and was frantically trying to escape the room. The master clapped his hands. The shock of the noise caused the bird to fly out the window.

OK..I don't have the story exactly right...the point is that sometimes the seemingly unkind can be the kind action. When my understanding and kindness toward anothers problem doesn't "shock" them into the truth..I may actually not being kind...yet to push at the wrong moment isn't helpful.

I try to get past the "kind or cruel" "right or wrong" mindset and look at what is the next "indicated" thing to do...not the next "right" thing...the next "indicated".

Regardless of the results, it isn't the results that are as important as the motivation. Am I trying to do the next indicated action to be of service or am I seeking the carrot of being told I'm a "good" person?

I have little doubt that I would steal, cheat and lie to save the life of another in some cercimstances. It isn't a lack of's that karma means every action has an effect...and as a human I won't always get this right. Sometimes shoplifting dinner for your child is the next indicated thing...sometimes going hungry and making sure others in society know of this is the next indicted thing.

You brought up a lot of things that are part of what I think about daily. But I can't really talk about it without turning this political rather than adressing the question you ask.

Sometimes doing nothing is the answer...sometimes it's simply a cop out. Some might pray about it, but for me it is something to consider before action. I'm a buddhist and what I was taught is that sometimes we accept the burden of interacting in life to be helpful to others despite the burden that it puts on us....

Great robe of liberation
Virtuous field far beyond form and emptiness
Wearing the Tataghatha's teachings
I vow to save all beings

We never do this thing perfect...we just commit to recognize our connection to others and present our best efforts at "kindness" or any other concept.

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Old 02-25-2013, 10:24 AM
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Great topic. I was taught that if you think something is wrong, it is wrong.

Now what if we take action without thought? So we are not considering right or wrong, but just going through life without thinking. We can cause others and ourselves great damage that way.

You got me thinking. I've been putting off doing something that I now believe I must do, which is a bit of deep thinking about my life, past, present and future. Reading what I wrote above, now I must do it!

Thank you!

As to the white lies, I don't think they are unkind but unnecessary and do keep impede our relationships with those we use them on. Those questions are loaded and unfair, but there is usually an honest answer that is not unkind.

"Grandma, there is no meal I would rather be eating at this moment."

"It's not my favorite dress but I sure love the lady that's in it!"

If someone close like a spouse is asking those kinds of loaded questions regularly there is something bigger to explore.
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Old 02-25-2013, 11:13 AM
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I think this was what nietzche was trying to get about in beyond good and evil .
A facinating book i haven't pick up in many a year .. i shall have to re-visit it now i'm sober as i'm sure my thinking has improved .

Bestwishes, M
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Old 02-26-2013, 12:43 AM
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This is an interesting topic. I used to go certain places n try to help people by 'being there for them' because it's what I wanted when something similar happened to me. But apparently I was wrong n ended up winding people up - n that the 'kind' thing to do was to give tough love n tell them what they didn't want to hear.

The 'dress' scenario makes sense here. You may in the beginning be offending someone but end result is you are saving them from humiliating themselves.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 02-26-2013, 03:07 AM
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what a fab post,,thank you legna ,, i too have this going round in my head,,daily!!!
i question hubby bout things too,,we chat bout wether is it really good to know the truth/right from lies/wrong??
if i do know what the correct way is,,what can i do about it??
is it best to be in complete ignorant bliss????
or is that a right ole waste of a life???

what can lil ole me possibly do against such a world full of ignorance and evil???
or , is everything around me ,,just a mere extension of myself , and what i do/say ect,,relfects on who i am inside,,????
be good,,and u will get good ??
oh ,i dont know,,im REAL good atreading and understanding ,,yet im absolutley crap at putting my thoughts into words!!! lol,,,
sorry,,i couldve deleted this,,but you never know ,,maybe im not alone ,,is there any dummies out there like me too?????
lv cleo xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Last edited by Cleopatra1; 02-26-2013 at 03:09 AM. Reason: added info
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