Be Kind

I’ve noticed a spate of garish “Be Kind” yard signs in my general vicinity. I think them hideous and obnoxious (of course I do).

I absolutely loathe slogans, bumper stickers, political signage, anything of that sort (aren’t you supposed to at least some of the time, I mean it really seems like a lot of the time that is their sole purpose, to be obnoxious?!). I’ve tried to make allowance for my “Mary, Mary Quite Contrary” personality and the fact that other people may not have such a knee jerk rebellious reaction as I, yet even still I don’t see how such things are compelling to more amenable people. The sentiment expressed could even be something I technically agree with, but I don’t feel agreement because I see the display which I oppose as part of the sentiment expressed.

With the “Be Kind” signs, do they know that commanding other people to be kind isn’t genuine kindness? Are they aware of the irony? I certainly see those signs and immediately assume that those people are the “nice” (that false veneer of politeness that I find infuriating) self-righteous type. But maybe there are a few that are clueless . . . maybe.

And then I wondered, why do I have such a deep antipathy for those silly signs and the people behind them, yet I love, love the maxim Cinderella’s mother gave her in Cinderella 2012: “Have courage and be kind”?

Relationship, circumstances, and phraseology makes such a difference! Cinderella’s mother is giving encouragement (and does this first!) and instruction in a private setting to her daughter with whom she has a loving relationship.

Commanding random strangers how to behave is just about the opposite of this. It is the pocket version of sidewalk sermons. I don’t tend toward genuine kindness (if I can manage civility I’m doing excellent), and these signs (like Aunt March) inspire me to do the exact opposite. Thus ends my diatribe against trifling paper signage.

(Also, after I wrote this, I was listening to this Earbiscuit podcast and Rhett starts talking about almost the exact “be kind” and command stuff during their “inspirational quote” rabbit trail (about 18 minute mark). Validation, yes, thank you! Also, don’t get me starting on that “inspirational” or “fyi” internet post trash).

2 comments

  1. I agree those signs are kind of annoying. I don’t know what they’re trying to prove exactly. The people being kind don’t need a sign and if you’re not being kind I assume a platitude sign isn’t going to suddenly change everything. It’s very like Live, Laugh, Love signs, there’s nothing wrong with the concept but the words feel so empty. The basic slogan on a mass produced note pad. Whereas the Cinderella maxim you mentioned just wasn’t empty words meant for mass appeal

    1. I feel like the “Be Kind” signs are rather pointed, which is annoying, and like you said, isn’t going to convince anyone.

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