Kindness matters because you never know what others are going through

Why is kindness important? Because one day you may be in someone else's shoes

Jamie Hughes avatar

by Jamie Hughes |

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I’ve always liked the quote, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” Some folks think it was penned by the Scottish author Ian Maclaren (sometimes MacLaren). Others attribute the quote to actor Robin Williams (which is fitting, I think, given the battle with depression he fought most of his life). Still others say author Brad Meltzer is responsible for these words of kindness.

Whoever said them matters less to me than the words themselves, because it’s darned good advice. Wise words to live by, even. And when you live with a disease like multiple sclerosis (MS), it becomes even more obvious why these words matter.

After all, MS is shifty. It doesn’t always make itself readily apparent. That’s why some people refer to it as an “invisible disease” and struggle to wrap their minds around what it means to have MS. As Brittany Quiroz, a fellow MS warrior, puts it, “Explaining the effects of MS is like trying to explain quantum physics to people who know little about science. If they can’t experience it firsthand, they’re less likely to grasp the concept.”

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Starting on Day Zero

I’ve learned a lot of new terminology while spending time in the hospital with my mom these past few weeks, and one of the terms that’s stuck with me is “Day Zero.” For my mom, that was the day of her surgery, and it’s key in so many ways. For example, if a doctor says, “We’ll take her chest tube out on Day Five,” you can’t count Day Zero toward that number.

Day Zero is almost a blank space on the calendar. Yes, things happen on it — big things — but for the purpose of timekeeping, it’s about as useless as teats on a boar. (And you can thank my great-grandfather for that little turn of phrase.)

Whether I’m sitting in a room, walking down a hallway, or taking a break outside to enjoy the wonderful Florida spring weather, I always know when an ambulance arrives. They usually come in, lights and sirens blaring, to bring someone (or sometimes several someones) to the emergency room for care. Every time I hear it, I think, “Today is that person’s Day Zero” and say a little prayer.

I remember my own Day Zero with MS — how scared I was, how unsure I was about the future and all the changes that lay before me. I didn’t know what questions to ask or where to turn to for help or guidance. Even now, 18 years later, I still remember that day in crystal-clear detail. I’m willing to bet you do, too.

Every day, according to the Atlas of MS, at least 300 people around the world learn they have multiple sclerosis. Every single day is someone’s Day Zero. Their battles are just beginning, and on the outside, it might not even look like they’re fighting anything.

So yeah, kindness matters. It’s always mattered to me, especially on my hardest days when the fatigue felt overbearing or I was in sensory overload. The people who have been kind and held space for me on those days did more for me than they’ll ever understand.

I’m sure you’ve experienced it as well. And that should make us want to be a means of grace for others. We know just how much of a difference it can make. So keep your eyes and your heart open, be ready to encourage and strengthen the folks you meet who are struggling.

It matters. It will always matter.

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Lynda avatar



I totally agree with you! MY DAY ZERO was on February 13, 2006 & I had just turner 49. I was raised with these principals & I still believe in them. But I have to say that I tried probably too much & never, never, received Amy kindness. But, recently, I have started to realize that the reverse never, never, applied to me. When I read your comments I was left me with so many questions & thoughts about humanité. Thank you & I hope to hear from you and others as well. Lynda 🍀

Jamie Hughes avatar

Jamie Hughes

Lynda, thank you so much for reading and for taking the time to leave such a lovely comment. I tell my kids all the time, I'm not responsible for anyone but myself--what I do (and leave undone), who I help, what hurt I stop from happening. Each of us has to examine ourselves and decide what kind of person we want to be. :) Glad to see you, like me, aim for kindness.


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