As Skyla and I reached the end of the walking trail, I heard it.

Jeering and taunting. It sounded like teenage boys.

We came up to the blue house on the corner, and I could see I was right. Two teenage boys were standing in the front lawn. An older, heavyset boy was picking up rocks from the landscaping and shoving them into the pocket of his hoodie.

Then he joined his friend and squinted up at the house.

Oh crap.

I quickly pulled out my phone and prepared to videotape these hoodlums.

The boy pulled back his arm and chucked the rock as hard as he could. The rock slammed into the side of a tree, and it was then that I noticed the boys weren’t aiming at the house at all.

They were trying to knock a terrified squirrel out of the tree. The first boy threw another rock and got dangerously close to hitting the squirrel.

“Hey!” I shouted. The boys spun around, apparently unaware that they were being watched.

“Don’t you kids have someplace to be other than bothering squirrels?” Really, it was 1:00 in the afternoon on a Friday.

The ringleader gave me a nasty look and sulked away with his friend, but not before yelling, “Squirrels have rabies!”

Skyla and I watched them walk down the street and into an apartment complex. I craned my neck back to look at the squirrel in the tree. It seemed OK.

I took comfort in the fact that I was able to save this squirrel, since that hasn’t always been the case.

It makes me really sad when I see or read about people torturing animals, especially when kids are involved. It’s a slippery slope. Once a person loses respect for animal life, they can lose respect for human life, including their own. And it’s not unusual to hear about a criminal who started out his life of crime by hurting small animals.

As Skyla and I walked home, I started thinking about why some people seem naturally kind and others not so much.

I have a question that I ask myself periodically to make sure I’m on the right path with my life.

I ask myself, “Am I being kind?”

This question is so simple, and yet it has such a powerful impact on my actions. It applies to countless situations: how I reply to email, how I talk to my husband, the products I buy, the companies and causes I support, and even what I eat.

I truly believe that many of the world’s big problems could be solved if people would stop and ask themselves, “Am I being kind?”

Sure, you could also use “What would Jesus do?”, but for those of us who follow a different path (or no path at all), it’s nice to have a clear, simple way to check in with our ethics.

Sometimes when I ask myself if I’m being kind, I have to answer, “No.” This usually happens when I’m stressed out or haven’t eaten in a while.

But that’s the beauty of this question! By simply asking it, I can either reaffirm my choices or make adjustments so I can head in the right direction.

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12 Comments

  1. Tinfoil Tiaras on October 16, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    Good for you for standing up for the squirrel, I am still haunted by memories of kids throwing stones at a pigeon with a missing foot when I was young 🙁 I HATE animal cruelty but it can become all encompassing what with avoiding animal products, clothing, beauty products etc. I wasn’t kind tonight to my man and immediately apologized but should ask myself the question before the damage is done.



    • Sage Grayson on October 17, 2012 at 5:10 pm

      I’m always checking in with myself about whether I’m being kind. And if I’m not, then I change what I’m doing fast! People can be so cruel. We can’t be absolutely perfect all the time, but little changes toward a more kind life still count.



  2. Shybiker on October 15, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Applause to your for intervening. And for trying to be more kind.
    I’ve made a conscious choice to reinforce my inclination to be kind and not cruel. It extends to the smallest things, like not honking at an elderly driver who hasn’t noticed yet the light has changed. The more consistent our behavior, the more integrity we have. And if it’s possible to increase one’s kindness, I’m trying.



    • Sage Grayson on October 15, 2012 at 7:26 pm

      I think it’s possible to increase one’s kindness–I’m certainly trying! The thing that’s helped the most is just getting older. My temper isn’t nearly as active as it was when I was a teenager.



  3. H&K Style Journey on October 15, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Hey Sage, we love your blog and all the great tips and advice. We have awarded you a blog award! Thanks for being one of our long time blogging friends 🙂
    Heather & Kayla



    • Sage Grayson on October 15, 2012 at 7:28 pm

      Heather and Kayla, you are too sweet! Thank you so much for the award. I adore your blog, and I get so many fashion tips from you two. You have saved me so much money (really!) by showing me that I can remix what I already have in my closet. Thanks for being longtime fans of my blog too. *big hugs*



  4. Molly on October 15, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    First of all, you’re awesome for saying something to those boys. I know of far too many people who would hate seeing that but not say anything. I just don’t understand how someone could be mean to an animal, human or nonhuman. 🙁

    I’ve had to work on being kind a lot and think I’ve come a long way. I’m very introverted and used to let people walk all over me, which made me kind of cold hearted for a while. Now I’ve finally found a balance (I hope!) and try to be kind. Being happy with my life certainly helps with that a lot.

    Such a great post! 🙂



    • Sage Grayson on October 15, 2012 at 5:56 pm

      I’ve become more outspoken in my old age. 🙂 I regret not speaking up when I’ve seen injustices and cruelty in the past, and I’m at a place in my life where I’m comfortable taking a stand. I think we all learn more as we get older, and I’ve learned to be more kind.



  5. Megan Gann on October 15, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    It’s hard to remember to control your responses, to remember to be self-less. I try to remind myself not to respond out of anger, hunger, or selfishness. Which is hard because I am very selfish person. But being able to acknowledge it helps.



    • Sage Grayson on October 15, 2012 at 6:00 pm

      I’m a work in progress too, and I’m not always as kind as I want to be. I’m not sure being selfish is a bad thing. So-called selfish people are the ones who take care of themselves and their health. Maybe there’s a selfishness spectrum? I try to fall a little more on the kind side.



  6. xvavaveganx on October 15, 2012 at 5:30 am

    Good for you for saying something to those boys. I don’t understand what makes people think it is ok to torture animals or anything for that matter. I’m sure the squirrel appreciates you stepping in too! I love using the question “am I being kind?” in my life too. I agree that a lot of problems wouldn’t exist if people would just be kind. The sad thing is that I feel like it is easier to be kind than not.



    • Sage Grayson on October 15, 2012 at 6:53 am

      I’m always saddened when I see people being cruel for no reason. It’s usually a power thing. People want to feel powerful, so they are mean to others to try to feel like they have power over something. And it’s disturbing how animal cruelty often leads to more cruelty.