Wisdom is Kindness

“What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?” Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Believe me, I wasn’t a troublemaker in school. But somehow, trouble always found me. Including the one time I almost killed my teacher. I was 11 years old, it was one month away from summer vacation, and the school was having a play day. You know – where we would play baseball, soccer and have water balloon fights, etc.

It was super fun. We had one more game to play – who can toss the softball the furthest. Maybe it wasn’t the most creative game, but hey we were kids – anything would have been fun.

It was my turn and I took my position at the edge of the soccer field. To an 11-year-old kid, the field looked huge. There was one teacher, Ms. Sabina on the far left side measuring the distance. Ms. Sabina was my homeroom teacher and she was great.

As I picked up the softball, I was feeling confident and excited. I tossed it as hard as I could. In fact, I tossed it so well and was feeling so confident that I didn’t even look back to see where the ball was going.

I was grinning and beaming with confidence as I turned towards my friends. Immediately I was confused because my friends’ faces were full of fear and they were saying “NO! NO!” I turned around to see the ball curve and head directly at a completely unaware Ms. Sabina.

Statistically, it should have been next to impossible to hit her. She was the only person standing in a giant field. The entire class was yelling “Ms. Sabina!” to try to get her to get out of the way. She was so far away that she didn’t hear us. Which does mean, I probably would have won.

Ms. Sabina finally heard the commotion and yelled “What?” We kept yelling and pointing up to the sky. Finally, she looked up at the perfect moment to get hit square in the eye.

Instantaneously, Ms. Sabina dropped to the ground.

My friends start yelling “Oh my God, you just killed Ms. Sabina!” I was so freaked out, I ran to hide in the playground and sobbed. The ambulance came and I saw Ms. Sabina put on a stretcher and into the ambulance.

My friends found me. “We didn’t tell the teachers it was you. Just go home – run!” So I ran home. I was completely panicked. I just killed my teacher! What was gonna happen?

The next day I went to school. I was terrified! No one had told me what happened to Ms. Sabina. I fully expected to get called into the principal’s office. I was waiting for and expecting my punishment.

I walked down the hall, awaiting my certain fate – principal’s office, maybe the police. All these scenarios were going through my head. Suddenly I saw a teacher walking towards me. I glanced up and saw a huge black eye and when I looked beyond it, I saw Ms. Sabina.

As she was walking towards me, I started crying. All I could see was the huge black eye. I was so scared and embarrassed. As she passed me, she looked down at me with her massive shiner, smiled and kept on walking.

I was stunned. I didn’t get in trouble. So I went into the classroom. Ms. Sabina was there with  her black eye, and I’m waiting. I’m waiting for her to say something. I’m waiting to be called to the office and nothing happens. The school day ended and I ran home as quickly as possible to check if there was any voicemails.

If I got home first, I could erase any voicemail before my mom heard it. There was nothing. I waitied a week. Nothing. Nothing happened. Nothing was ever said. I received no punishment.

Five years ago, I went back to my middle school. I walked into the office, explained that I was a former student and asked if Ms. Sabina still worked there. She did and I asked if I could speak to her. The secretary called her and told her I was there to see her. “Which Aleks?” she asked.

I grinned and said “Tell her it is the Aleks who gave her a black eye.” The secretary was stunned and asked if I was serious. But the secretary said it and I could hear Ms. Sabina laughing.

She came into the office grinning and with her students in tow. I hugged her and I hugged the students. We started talking. And after about five minutes I said “Ms. Sabina I still don’t understand. Why didn’t I get in trouble? I gave you a black eye!”

She smiled. “When I walked past you the next day, I saw how guilty you felt. Why would I push you down even further?”

It was a great reminder that wisdom is kindness. Be wise enough to know that when someone knows they did something wrong, push them up not down. Treat them with kindness. It is a gift to them and to yourself. It is the wisdom to give grace to someone. To say “Hey, I love you. You did this. I get it and I know you can do better.”

Here’s the best part. She gave me kindness and I never gave another teacher a black eye. Wisdom is kindness.

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