History is filled with a lot of wars. American knowledge of what took place and who was fighting who in the different wars differs widely depending on the war.

We all know about World War I (the war to end all wars). It’s the Allies Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Russia, and others vs. Central Powers: Germans, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey. The Allies won.

We all know about World War II (the big one). It’s the Allies Britain, France, Russia, and the US, and to a lesser extent, China versus the Axis Powers: Germany, Italy, and Japan. The Allies won again.

We all know the American Civil War (war between the states) was between the Northern and Southern States. The North won.

Finally, we all know that the American Revolution was the colonists fighting with the British for our independence. With some help from France, the Americans won.
Few people know what the Spanish-American War was about except those genuinely committed to American history and the descendants of Teddy Roosevelt. Or the French and Indian War. It was the North American part of the Seven Years’ War between France and Britain that lasted nine years. Britain won, but it was where George Washington got his military training, which cost Britain in the long run.

My neighborhood currently has two ongoing wars. The first is between my wife, Sue, and the birds. Sue is currently holding the high ground in this war, but the birds seem to be in it for the long term. The birds have more dedication. Finding ways to poop on our stuff seems to be the only thing on their agenda. Sue has other things to do beyond keeping them away.

The second is the Kindness war. A few weeks ago, I got a new lawnmower. My next-door neighbor was away for ten days, so I mowed their yard. When I was done, I wasn’t satisfied, so I moved over to another neighbor’s yard to mow it. They confronted me about mowing their yard. I explained I was returning the favor for him helping shovel my driveway while I was away this winter. (He is from Nebraska, so he would say he scooped the snow in my driveway.)

He called a few hours later and said he was bringing dinner over to us. We answered when the doorbell rang, and Sue wondered what was happening. She asked my neighbor why he was bringing us food. He said it was because Dave mowed my yard. Sue shut the door and said, “What is the deal with the two of you? Are you having a kindness war?”

As we ate the ribs, cornbread, and cheesy potatoes they had provided, Sue said, “We need to bring the dishes back to them.” I told her I thought that was implied.

She said, “Yes, but with brownies on them.” I now had an ally in the Kindness War.

Yesterday I borrowed my neighbor’s pickup.

Tomorrow Sue is going to settle the score and bring them dinner. It’s fun. It will never end. The exception is we tend to have a kindness truce during our Pickleball matches.

But it reminds me of some of the best advice I have ever received. It came from Margie Larson. Before Margie came to Willmar Electric, she worked at a local bank. She said she would just kill the person with kindness whenever she had a crabby or mean customer. Margie says it always worked.

The person would always give in and change. It’s hard to be ornery with people who are treating you kindly. Margie said smiling, apologizing, offering to help, and other kind acts would go a long way towards getting the person to understand she was trying to help.

I understand Margie’s advice doesn’t apply to my kind neighbor. He is already being nice. He doesn’t need to have his current mood changed.

The advice does drive home the fact that when you treat others kindly, you nearly always get kindness in return, regardless of where the other person started.