Why Kindness

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
-Mother Teresa

Today, I was doing a live radio interview, when I mentioned
that through my own sport experience, I have learned that when others are mean, to be kind back. A listener asked whether this response of kindness was really a masked act of submissiveness – a trait often taught to women.

I was really surprised by this question because I had never
considered my life philosophy of being kind as a gender issue – to me it has
always been a philosophy based on peace, a belief in progress, and a feeling of

During my undergraduate days at St. Olaf College (MN), I
studied nonviolent leadership. I examine the works of Gandhi, Thich Nhat Hanh, Jackie Robinson, Dr. King, and many other incredible people. And it was during those college days that I learned anger can be combated with love.

But it took me 10 years to see how I would implement this
ideal in my own life.

There was a moment when I was coaching the Brockton Rox (CanAm,
2009) that I neared my breaking point. Of course, I never thought of quitting.
But I wasn’t sure what my next move should be. I sat alone in my car, away from
the stadium, to make sure no one could see me wipe the tears from my eyes. And
I realized that I could not control how others would act towards me but I could
control how I would act towards others.

I decided to do something nice for the Rox players. So I went
off and got them some snacks (young ball players love to eat). And from then on,
I went about my coaching duties by working hard, helping others, and smiling at
those who wished I was gone. I even baked the team brownies after I was
released from coaching away games.

Perhaps there is a difference between being nice and being
kind. Maybe being nice is a learned social response filled with pleasantries;
one that admittedly many women are taught to master. But to me, being kind
comes from the soul and it is fueled by a love for one another. It stems from a
belief that we are connected and that we need one another.

Six months, after my experience with the Rox, I ran into one
of those men who wanted me off the team. And he said to me, “You know I
couldn’t stand that you were on that field but I couldn’t help but like you.”

I think that anger can start a movement for social change but
kindness is best to sustain it. For me, being kind when others have been mean,
has given me a sense of peace. It is that feeling of peace that then gives me
the power to fight. Because when I have peace within, I can then venture to
give peace out. And with peace, I believe comes a better world.

And why not have that better world start on a baseball field.

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