What do John Cusack and my family have in common? They were both accosted on the same October weekend – for being kind.
Saturday, October 9, 2021
My husband and daughter took an innocent walk through our neighborhood. They wore masks because COVID was still raging in Texas, our daughter was too young at the time to be vaccinated, and they couldn’t trust that the many unmasked people in our subdivision would maintain social distance. They wanted to keep themselves and others safe.
As they strolled around a cul-de-sac, a man backing out of his driveway put his car in park, got out, and asked my husband why he and our daughter were wearing masks. My husband politely tried to circumvent a discussion, but the man persisted, even after our sweet girl piped up, “Because we don’t want to get COVID.” Finally, my husband said, “Why are you picking on us?” The man threw up his hands and got back in his car.
Sunday, October 10, 2021
The following day, actor and political activist John Cusack took an innocent trip to Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago to cheer on the White Sox in baseball’s postseason. About to enter the stadium, he was harassed by a White Sox blogger who accused him of being insincere – sacrilegious, even – for supporting both Chicago baseball teams (Cusack is also a huge Cubs fan).
Cusack stayed supremely calm. By demonstrating his deep knowledge of White Sox history, he skewered the blogger’s argument that Cusack was a simple bandwagoner.
A Sad Parallel
My family’s neighborhood walk and Cusack’s trip to a ballgame might seem worlds apart. But there’s a sad parallel between them that points to a growing hypersensitivity to the kind behavior of others.
Confronting a man and his daughter for wearing masks is not that different from attacking Cusack for his dual allegiance to Chicago baseball teams. Like Cusack, my family wasn’t hurting anyone. In fact, like Cusack, they were doing something nice for the community. Yet, like Cusack, they were challenged by someone who felt irritated – even threatened, perhaps – by their kind behavior.
How did we get here? Why can’t we simply love the good in others instead of demand that people justify their good actions? I fear the answer is that some people really dislike seeing others do nice things because they know they would not do those things themselves. My late grandma would have called this a strong weakness. But while she used the phrase in reference to individuals, it now applies to expanding swaths of society.
I know there are still people who appreciate kindness and value community. When I look at my daughter and consider the world she is inheriting, I hold onto that notion, tightly. My family had nothing to justify that mild October weekend, and neither did Cusack. May their shared experience remind us that choosing to be kind isn’t always rewarded, but it is always worth it.