Dec. 20 2017 08:00 AM

Can’t we challenge another person’s thoughts and ideas without resorting to character attacks and slurs?

My Christmas list is rather short this year . . . the only gift I’d really like is to spend time with my family.

But there is one thing I’m asking for — more kindness.

At one time, not so long ago, I enjoyed using social media. It can be a great way to stay in touch with friends. I found it was a wonderful way to connect with dairy farmers across the country.

As dairy farmers, we can learn so much from each other. And having friends to lean on . . . friends who really understand dairy farming . . . can be incredibly helpful when dairy farming feels lonely.

But that time is gone. Now, I avoid social media.

Social media is awash with vitriol. And dairy farmers are just as complicit as everyone else. It seems we’ve forgotten that it’s possible to challenge another person’s thoughts and ideas without resorting to character attacks and inflammatory slurs.

I don’t need that sort of unkindness in my life.

The same goes for reading the news. I know that it’s my civic responsibility to be aware of what’s happening in our country, but most of the time, the storyline is the same: Here’s another epic act of unkindness. And the details are depressing. So I skip most of the news.

It hits home
Now I’m seeing this pervasive unkindness in my son’s class at school . . . and there’s no way to avoid it. Every day, I ask my son about his time at school. Then I try to smooth the rough spots over with hugs and dole out the same advice: Ignore what you can and try your best to be kind.

Honestly, it breaks my heart to hear some of the words people actually say to each other . . . both online and in person. Words hurt, people.

So, this Christmas, I’m asking for a revival of kindness.

Choose your words carefully. If you can’t find a way to say it kindly, perhaps it shouldn’t be said.

Choose your actions even more carefully. Actions speak louder than words.

Above all, just be kind.

I believe it’s possible to turn our epidemic of unkindness into an epidemic of kindness.

Sadie Frericks

The author is a dairy farmer and writer from central Minnesota. She farms with her husband, Glen, and their three children. Sadie grew up on a dairy farm in northern Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in agricultural communications and marketing. She also blogs at Dairy Good Life.