Commentary: Sign of times as people choose kindness

I thought I would give you an update to the response from the community about the “We Choose Kindness” signs that came about after I wrote my monthly column for the Edmonds Senior Center a few weeks ago, which was reprinted in My Edmonds News.

The “choosing kindness” thought came out of conversations about the angst people are feeling, particularly in social media posts. If you believe in a cause you should be able to express your opinion without fear of being verbally attacked by others. We should be able to agree to disagree with kindness. Maybe see the other side of the coin.

Many people asked me if signs could be made carrying that message. And in fact many people sent donations to make it happen. My neighbor owns a print shop in Los Angeles, loved the message and offered to help. The signs were designed by the print shop and shipped to me. I posted the sign along with my column on Facebook and received such overwhelming response that I had to place another order. Contributions have continued to pour in along with sign requests. In fact, hundreds of signs to date have been paid for through the donations from more than 30 people, allowing signs to be free. Now the signs are self funded by the community. Once again the generosity of our community is amazing.

Over and over I have heard how happy people are to have signs that are non-partisan and that resonate with their feelings about the world we find ourselves in. With all the discussion about the economy, COVID-19 , Black Lives Matter and the presidential election, people are hungry to state their beliefs and opinions without fear of reprisal. They are choosing kindness in their everyday discussions about the matters that affect us each day.

Signs are available through

— By Gary Haakenson

    1. I did a Google on “orange hate.” I had no idea that people have such a problem with the color of orange. As an artist maybe I need to stay away from the color.

      1. I did a BING search and unfortunately it looks like hate crimes are increased in Orange County CA. That definitely went over my head.

    2. Matt, sometimes you leave us all guessing and this is no different. searching on “orange hate” produces a set of links that have really little to do with this thread. BUT searching “term orange” and then going to the Urban Dictionary link there is a bunch of references to “artificial tanning” and “president” and “Trump”. I can only guess you are talking about the urban dictionary stuff and not the other references to “orange hate”.

      You may want to help us all understand your point better by some added explanation. I hope you are not suggesting that the Kindness notion has anything to some backdoor way to slam an elected official.

      I do not see that this “whole campaign is going over peoples heads”, I see it as a way for us all to really get inside our heads, think creatively, and help us all restore a sense of community and humanity. On a percentage basis, my life is way past the 50% mark. So I am trying to extend the numbers and do something nice for someone everyday. I think that is want some comments are saying as well.

      Matt, I hope you fail in your attempt to get CV19. That’s one good deed for the day. On to finding other ways to be KIND. Any suggestions Matt?

      1. Orange Hate is a meme and is short for saying all of the following:

        “Orange Man Bad”, is something that Non-Playable Characters (NPC) in a video game would say, referring to someone suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS). NPC’s (from video games) are often invoked because a lot of people’s arguments lack nuance and seem to be like pre-programmed responses with no critical reevaluation once new information is available. It’s dehumanizing and term I don’t like to use. Calling Trump an “Orange Man” is equally as pejorative as referring to others as NPC’s. Regardless there is still a legitimate debate about the existence of TDS and I believe it is a real affliction.

        The Choose Kindness Campaign is a really intelligent and genuine message. The nuance of Choosing Kindness would be lost to a Non-Playable Character, and they’d still profess hate for Orange Man when confronted with this message.

  1. Great words Gary. The ability to have civil discussion despite areas of disagreement is a breath of fresh air. Choosing kindness is a sign of maturity – finding the 1% we agree on and giving that 100% of our effort keeps both parties focused on being kind. Thanks for doing this.

  2. I have been happy to see many of these signs around our community. We can choose science and honesty, and still choose kindness as well. Thank you to everyone who posts this sign. Kindness really does matter, now more than ever.

    1. For some people and in some situations, kindness is change. Seems like that’s the whole point.

      I was walking a friend’s dog and watched 3 people take a selfie in front of one of these We Choose Kindness signs. Maybe the pic will show up on here. I don’t have a spot for a sign, I’ll be on the lookout for a WCK flag.

  3. The dictionary definition of kindness is “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.” To me this suggests that kindness should be all about just doing something because it’s the right thing to do, rather than trying to gain some sort of good in return for” being kind.”

    In short, some people are really kind to you because they see you might be hurting or confused and really need some help. On the other hand, some people are really kind to you because they want something in return. I would say that is not really kindness, but rather manipulation. It pays to know the difference; and to not be a manipulator; but be a truly kind and generous person, just because you want to be. Anything else is just a transaction and not very significant really, except possibly making things a little smoother. Making things smoother is fine, but it behooves one to see that for what it is.

  4. When my tongue got the better of me, my mother would say “learn to disagree without being disagreeable,” which sounds like a corollary to We Choose Kindness. And as to the other Good Things folks are choosing, this isn’t an either/or deal. You can choose them along with Kindness.

  5. Please note that Doctor more is an genuine Canadian climate scientist born in BC. I am just sick and tired of the Green New Deal crap from from         AOC’s squad, Bernie Sanders, abnd anyone else that’s subscribes to the Green New Deal nonsense.

    I used to excuse them for being ignorant, but it’s long past that now. They are all just plain Freaking stupid. Kip past the ads and just listen to Doctor More.

  6. I love it. One of the biggest issues in our Country today is the lack of meaningful discussion and exchange of ideas across party lines.

    If people are not willing to spend the time to challenge and seriously think about their own ideas or seriously consider ideas from other groups, than we are unnecessarily handicapping ourselves.

    Kindness is more than just a admirable lifestyle, it is a logically sound move.

  7. Thanks Matt. I now clearly understand. Thanks for the clear explanation to help this old man understand a young mans viewpoint.

    1. Darrol, I really appreciate you too. My wife and others around me semi-lament how plugged in I am to the youth-political culture. I like Gucci Flip-Flops, Thomas Sowell, Shia Labeouf fan, might join the Proud Boys. I’m keeping up with the internet and the culture. Watch Peanut Butter Falcon, vote Trump 2020.

      1. All the above of why we love you and your comments Matt Richardson, you are the “Real Deal”without a closed mind, with a unique ability to communicate your POV with “kindness”. Happy Holidays to you and your beautiful family.

  8. Interesting thread. I see the “We Choose Kindness” signs as anti-Trump signs, considering the overwhelming cruelty and lack of empathy in his policies and messaging.

  9. I think the sign confuses “kindness” with civil discourse when placed among campaign posters. There is an element of kindness in good civil discourse but they are not synonymous concepts. G.H. is by nature a very kind and friendly person and I don’t think this is any attempt to reference Trump in any way. Trump’s kindness and personal practice of civil discourse are a matter of opinion.

    The reality of our popular vote for President is it doesn’t mean very much because it does not choose the President in our country. No need to be unkind to each other over something that doesn’t really count except in our perception that we had a voice in the choosing. Reality is a few thousand people in swing states choose the Pres. Never us in WA.

  10. In British Columbia, people are flying Canadian flags for solidarity during Covid that replace the maple leaf with a heart. I was trying to imagine how we could do something similar with Washington’s state flag. I like the idea of choosing kindness. Our nation is too bitterly divided and we need to heal. That said, I also think we need accountability for people who have hurt other people. It is very difficult to feel kindness toward people who create and perpetuate policies or actions that have caused harm to your loved ones. It’s like being asked to turn the other cheek. Forgiveness and true feelings of kindness will only follow acknowledgement and accountability.

    1. Susan, definitely agree with that. I never really watched sports too much, but got into it about 5 years ago because it was a-political. Sports felt like a safe space, but now it’s not. Appreciating history and the nation used to be a safe place too. I remember coming home after being deployed on 9-11, seeing flags everywhere. This year even the 9-11 memorial her in town was vandalized. There’s no touching stone or mooring left. The Choose Kindness campaign is even lamented, seen as insufficient, as what’s evidenced in this thread.

  11. I want to color out the CH on your sign….
    So mine reads =

    ha ha ha ha ha
    * good job Gary…there is way too much anger in Edmonds…

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