This evening Joan, Mike, Jean and my Mom attended a memorial service for Jimmy Johnston. I’d known Jimmy for the past few years, enjoying his company on several pheasant hunts and extended family gatherings. I got to know Jimmy best when he saved my bacon and helped me immeasurably working my mondo Kingswood Rummage sale last April. When writing a message in the sympathy card I referred to Jimmy as a “kind soul”. Jimmy’s kindness was mentioned time and again at the service. Jimmy’s kindness was real, and quite remarkable. And you have to love anyone whose memorial service featured choice recordings from Savoy Brown and B. B. King and a eulogy from a fella named Tiny.
As a society we say kindness is an admirable quality. Honored. Worthy of respect and emulation. Kindness is a virtue, right? However, over the last couple of years I’ve come to question whether our society sees kindness as a virtue, or a weakness to exploit? I know that sounds pretty cynical, especially coming from me. But it’s becoming hard to ignore general lack of kindness exhibited by our institutions and the people who run them, and how these same people and institutions treat the kind-hearted among us much like a pack of coyotes treats the wounded rabbit. (No reference to SD team logos intended)
*Noted Cartoonish Gen-u-ine South Dakota Varmit Mascots
In general, today’s candidates, campaigns, legislation, corporations and bureaucrats don’t immediately bring to mind the qualities of empathy, caring, kindness and understanding. Maybe they never did. Maybe I’ve become a naïve fool, the sucker born every minute. Or maybe it’s time to stop expecting anything from dysfunctional institutions and those who populate them, and focus instead on kindness of the good ol’ regular people you run across every day of your life. People like Jimmy. Adios my friend.