Kind Speech

2013-07-06 20.18.39The Americans with disabilities act was signed by George H.W. Bush in 1990. This legislation set in motion the reserving of parking places for the handicapped. It’s hard to believe 26 years have passed since the law was enacted. Today we take for granted that those who are physically restricted should receive the parking closest to the front door of a restaurant or store. To most of us, it makes common sense.

This piece of legislation is considered one of the first signs of political correctness. It was a policy written to not offend (no longer disadvantage) a group of 53 million Americans who suffer and live with disabilities.

Prior to 1990 businesses did not desire to offend a sizeable group of the population. Most likely it was only a matter of thoughtlessness, it did not cross their mind that rolling a wheelchair 50 yards across a parking lot was harder than rolling it 15 yards from the front parking spaces.

After 26 years most of us would not identify “Handicap parking” with political correctness. Today it seems like the right thing to do. Today it seems natural to be as kind as possible. Maybe that’s all the testimony needed, what one person views as political correctness is nothing more than being kind to another.

As Christian’s our calling is much higher than being politically correct or avoiding hate speech. Our calling is to be kind, “Be kind one to another.”

My mother had a good friend named Alice. Alice and she shopped together, drank coffee together, camped together and played cards together, they were friends—good friends.

As a teenager, I noticed there were times when Alice stood my mother up. Mom would get ready on Saturday morning to go shopping –a big day, all dressed up with jewelry and heels and then Alice would not show.  Mother would naturally be disappointed because a Saturday of shopping was always better than a Saturday of housekeeping. I once asked my mother about Alice and why she was unreliable. Mother told me not to talk like that and explained Alice’s absence by saying, “Oh Alice had a spell this morning, she’ll feel better and we will go out next weekend.” A spell?

Mother always spoke of others in these modest tones “spell,” “fit,” and “bless their heart.” In my twenties, I learned the truth. Alice abused prescription drugs and often could not get out of bed on Saturday or for the whole weekend. Alice needed rehab.

Instead of “telling it like it is” which is trendy these days, mother was kind. Of course, she pleaded with Alice in private to get help, but in their social circles mother–

 Did not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Ephesians 4:29).

Our parents and grandparents were unfamiliar with hate speech and political correctness, mainly because they were familiar with Christianity.  They were keenly aware that—-you treat (and speak) about others the way you would like to be treated (or spoken about).

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