The following conversation is real, and happened 
yesterday during a drive to the grocery.



Why won’t you let me listen to number 19?

Because…I don’t want you to misinterpret the lyrics.

Do they swear? I already know most of the swear words.

Nope. No swear words. But what the man sings about can be misleading if you don’t understand what he’s trying to say.

I want to listen to number 19.

Okay.  Then we’ll talk about it.


So I punched the buttons on the stereo, and moved forward to number 19, and I let the song play.  As I drove, I glanced over at him. Eight years old, and he was already more cerebral than many adults I knew.  He gazed out the window, not really seeing the fields and barns – he was listening intently.


I might be inclined to put you down
But I’m trying to find some way around
We might be compelled to disagree
But I’ll give you this one guarantee

I’m gonna kill you. I’m gonna kill you with kindness
I’m gonna kill you. I’m gonna kill you with kindness

I’m breaking out while you’re breaking in
‘Cause you’re more at home under my skin
Your opinion seemed beyond absurd.
But I mean it, I give you my word

I’m gonna kill you. I’m gonna kill you with kindness…
I’m gonna kill you. I’m gonna kill you with kindness, with kindness

‘Cause when it comes to hurting you, I know one thing.
I’ve got this ammunition and it’s sure to stay…

–KINDNESS, Bad Veins

(lyrics pulled from


When the song finished, I turned the stereo off and asked him, What do you think he was saying in that song?

I think he was saying that it’s mean to be mean so you just gotta be kind.

Do you think he meant he was really going to kill someone?

No…so why does he say it?

So I told him what I thought it meant. I told him that the man singing was talking to someone else, someone he loves very much. He loved her and yet she treated him very badly, all the time. The song felt very much like he was at the end of his patience and was struggling to find a solution.




So the only solution he could come up with, to alleviate how bad it feels to love someone who treats you badly was to be kind to her, no matter what she said or did, no matter how badly she hurt his feelings, no matter how many times she sabotaged their relationship.  At least this way, he would know in his heart that he had tried his very best and been true to his own nature.

I told him that adults have a saying, kill them with kindness, and it means that when you have to deal with an unpleasant person, you don’t have to compromise your own [kind] heart, just because they don’t have one.  You treat people the way you want to be treated.

That’s a rule! he said, immediately, and I nodded.

Yes, you’re right; it’s the golden rule, or so they say.  Do unto others as ye would have them do unto you…




It’s not, Do unto others whatever it takes to get what you want.

It’s not, Do unto others with no thought of how your actions will affect anyone else around you.

It’s not, Do unto others and get yours and fuck everyone else.

Of course, I didn’t say those last three lines to him.  I don’t use the F-bomb in his presence.  I don’t talk at him. I don’t talk to him as if he is 8 years old. I talk to him like one person sharing with another person, and if he doesn’t understand what I’m saying, I break it down to simpler parts. And if he doesn’t understand that, then I break it down into even simpler parts.

Once he understood the premise of the lyrics, he thought for a few moments.

So if that is what the song is about, why did you not want me to listen to it?

I didn’t want you to listen to it because the man uses the word “kill” a lot, and I didn’t want you to make that word a regular part of your vocabulary.




It was true. Every single day of my adult life, I have heard on the news, or on social media, or from friends, about someone getting killed, about hordes of people killing another person, about the history of every nation on the globe and how this many were killed. Film glorifies it. Music glorifies it. Art glorifies it.

While I speak to him in a logical, cerebral way, I cannot help but try to shield him from all that killing for as long as possible.

So I steered away from that avenue of conversation and talked instead about the idea of treating people kindly. It’s funny how many people don’t understand that concept. It’s funny in a not-at-all-funny way.

I think many of us have downgraded the human experience by encouraging self-centered, self-servicing behavior.

What can you do for me?  There you are, in my life, and what I want to know is, what can you do for me? What’s in it for me? How do I benefit from you?

Me, me, me…

I guess, because of the holiday, and because of the whole conversation about killing with kindness, I’m in a reflective kind of mood, tapping this meandering bit of blog out and getting it out of my head.

You won’t see me killing anyone with kindness. But you will see me use it to maim a few. It’s the least I can do.








4 thoughts on “Kindness

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