Be kind

The warm month of July is now upon us and with the summer comes very little teaching and gigging. That is to be expected in the worlds of music education and classical music performance. After all, everyone needs a vacation sometime and the summer is the time to do it. For this blog, I’m going to write and ramble about various things so please pardon a rather non music and news related blog.

I came across a quote by Plato a few months ago. It is, “Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Yes, many of us have read it and it’s pretty much the same as the Golden Rule: Do unto others what you would have them do unto you. I think that Plato goes even further than the Golden Rule. His words invoke compassion beyond personal standards to which an individual can relate. With the Golden Rule, one tends to measure his/her conduct by his/her own standards and everyone has different standards about personal conduct, informed by upbringing, moral character, culture and class. Plato’s statement implies that each individual has a personal story that no one else knows about, an internal life, an internal struggle that is not immediately visible. I am attempting in both my personal and professional lives, often unsuccessfully, to be kind and to remember that everyone I meet is fighting a hard battle.

As a society, we are not always kind when it comes to children and now that I’m a working mother, I truly understand this. For example, the cost of child care in BC is so prohibitively expensive that unless you NET more than $3000.00 per month, it simply isn’t worth the cost of putting two children in full time daycare. I have turned down a number of jobs because of this. Also, I don’t know how many cultural events that I’ve attended with the boys and have gotten dirty looks when the kids have made sounds as little kids will make. Even in my child friendly job, there are two contracts where my boys are not permitted to come with me despite the fact that they are not disruptive at all. As a result, my husband and I are constantly juggling child care and occasionally, I make mistakes. This is where kindness is very much needed.

I have come to appreciate small kindnesses when they are offered. All of my students who first come to my home studio are always warned that I have two little boys. Those students who stay on with me grow to love Daniel and Benjamin and my boys are always excited to see my students. Everyone benefits; you give love and you get it back. This kindness towards my children does not go unnoticed and I appreciate it so much. A few months ago, I was at the post office with Daniel in the grocery-laden stroller and Ben in the Ergo carrier, struggling to get a narrow door open. A man who happened to be walking by outside, saw this, stopped and opened the door. I was feeling very tired and frustrated about a number of things that day and he took a moment to offer a small kindness. Plato’s words apply to my students and to this man. Whether or not these people have children, they can see that at times, I may be fighting hard battle and they are kind.

So this summer, let’s be kind and remember that we are all fighting a hard battle.