Hoping for a kinder and gentler 2019

December 25, 2018

Several weeks ago we shared in the meaningful experience of the funeral services of former President George Herbert Walker Bush, colloquially referred to as “Bush 41.”

The attendees were bipartisan, the theme was universal, the climate was love, and the underlying message was the life and contribution of this American who happened to be a member of the Republican Party.  But as I recall the tributes of the speakers, what streamed through loudly and clearly and deeply was the kind of human being President G.H.W. Bush was. A month or so prior to this sad event, we all shared in the kind and loving remarks made about a man who also happened to be a Republican, John McCain.

What we all may be able to take away from these two events, the more recent possibly being more poignant, is that despite the trials, tribulations, drama, and turmoil of our current national and international situation, we can certainly behave in a civil and understanding manner, regardless of either party affiliation or policy leaning. 

I recall only too well when President Bush called for us to be a “kinder and gentler” nation, and we made a bit of an attempt at it.  Actually, we became kind enough to elect the Democratic opponent in his re-election bid.  But this piece is not at all meant to be political or even about politics; it is meant to be about us, the average woman and man shopping at Walmart, drinking coffee at Panera Bread, getting gas at Wawa or Royal Farms. 
We, members of the Cape Region and Sussex County, can strive to be kinder and gentler to one another as a new year unfolds.

It is the little things which count, a smile to a stranger here, a door held by a preceding customer there, even an unnecessary “excuse me” every so often. If it feels more comforting, we can practice on members of our immediate family, and coworkers, especially that one we may not like that much for whatever the reason.  

Another great location to be kinder and gentler might be on our roadways of Route 1 and Route 24 and Rehoboth Avenue. Signaling with our automobile’s device for that purpose certainly beats the digital salute which is often displayed in many situations. A courteous “Good Morning” to the person at the other pump as we fill our gas tanks could prove to be such a positive feeling for both human beings.

Imagine in the midst of what may be a very contentious and cold 2019 on the outside, what a beautiful and warm hum and buzz could permeate the Cape on our inside. Certainly, such behavior is not easy, and may be a real change for many, but shouldn’t we at least try? The late President Bush admonished us in that direction, a fact about which we were so vividly reminded in the first few days of December.

Last but by no means least, let us also be kinder and gentler to ourselves.  That plate you dropped, the grocery item forgotten, the missed highway exit, the forgotten anniversary date, the expired CVS coupon – not one of these should be cause for alarm, consternation, or self-loathing. The suggestion is to treat those individual or even the not-so-individual foibles with a Mary Poppins spoonful of sugar.

You will eventually remember what caused you to return to the room for a certain forgotten item, and if not, the sun will still set this day, and rise the next. 

I suspect that as we treat ourselves with that gentle kindness, others will be the happy and thankful recipients of our outreach, whoever they may be, whatever they may look like, wherever is their homeland.  So as we bid farewell to whichever holiday we opted to celebrate, if any, and welcome in 2019, let us do so in a spirit of peace and joy and happiness, and oh yes, in a kinder and gentler manner.

Peter E. Carter is a retired public school administrator residing in Lewes.


  • Cape Gazette commentaries are written by readers whose occupations, education, community positions or demonstrated focus in particular areas offer an opportunity to expand our readership's understanding or awareness of issues of interest.

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