This Is The Only Reason You Need To Be Kind

We all had a Kyle in our class. The kid who just didn’t care. About anything. Or so it seemed to us at the time. Dumb, stupid, lazy. We left Kyle with those labels and filed him away. A lost cause.

Don’t you think he knew? That he had no shot in the teacher’s eyes. Or Rena’s. Or yours. But what if Kyle wasn’t stupid at all? What if Kyle cared more than everyone else in the room? Way too much. About everything. Like his mom.

Maybe Kyle hoped that if he pretended not to care long enough, he actually wouldn’t. Because he couldn’t deal with it all. And so he was scared to try.

Mr. Tanner was our favorite teacher. We loved him for treating the rebels like rebels, the posers like posers and the nerds like nerds. He rewarded performance and respected effort.

The Mr. Tanners of the world make school feel a little more human with their jokes, a little easier to endure with their healthy sense of detachment. But what made you forget you’re in school may have helped Mr. Tanner forget he has to go home.

We used to think our teachers were nothing but teachers. A different species. With schedules to keep, tests to hand out and corny jokes to make. The closer we get to graduation, the more we realize: our teachers are humans.

Disorganized, flawed, scared humans. Like us. Just older. Humans, who have loved other humans. Lost other humans.

We all wear masks and so we don’t always see each others’ faces, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there.

For Mr. Tanner, maybe Cassie cared too little. For her boss, maybe it was too much. But she cares most about her son, which neither of the two ever really get to see.

Does that make her a bad person? Or a good person, whom bad things have happened to? What about Jim? Did he have a bad day? A bad life?

What if everyone’s trying to do the best they can? Maybe it’s just what we think is best that’s different. Not us.

There are many good reasons to try and be kind. But you need only one:

It doesn’t make yours easier. Just easier to bear. You’re not alone.

Be kind.

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