More and more the world is angry and chaotic. People are defensive, even outright aggressive, when threatened or offended. Rude and vulgar language is no longer surprising whether on the road, in places of business, or on TV. Have you noticed the increase in videos of people brawling over the least little provocation? Aggression has become the subject of entertainment.

The truth is kindness is not my natural inclination. I wish it was. However, I have learned to embrace and practice kindness like the necessity of exercise. The results are kind of amazing. The kinder I am to complete strangers, the less stress I feel. But when I go the way of the world and lash out at someone’s insult, ignorance, or poor service, I’m the one who feels terrible afterwards. I am painfully aware by experience how unkind words destroy the spirit.

Each of us is a victim of someone’s unkindness. Each of us has also been a perpetrator. The upsurge in bullying may not be on the rise at all. Maybe we’re finally noticing the long term effect it has on the human spirit.

I have the freedom to criticize, bully or make a sarcastic remark. Everyone does it so it’s easy to fall in step with the culture. Choosing to be kind in spite of how I’m treated is just that – a choice that God instilled in me.

When I choose kindness instead of my natural inclination, it produces joy. I’m less stressed. Like any exercise, the benefits are worth the effort.

I made this latest print to remind me that I can’t be neutral on this issue. I have been given freedom of choice by a loving God who has been amazingly gracious and kind to me. Shouldn’t I do likewise?

The print above is available as a hand signed giclee or on various other products at Society6 and Fine Art America.