When did kind become a “four letter” word? When did winning at all costs become the norm? When did “nice” just become a “city in France?”
Kindness is defined in the dictionary as “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.” (yes, I actually looked it up). And being kind to one another has been the fabric or society – or at least morality – since who knows when…
The Yogis knew kindness was key: Ahimsa is the first of the 8 limbs of yoga, and teaches that in order to live a good life, you must be kind, compassionate and non-harming (above all else!).
Jesus and the early Christians definitely knew, with the Bible teaching us “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12
The Dalai Lama knows, saying “This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”
Buddha taught to “Radiate boundless love towards the entire world.”
Aristoltle said “It is the characteristic of the magnanimous man to ask no favor but to be ready to do kindness to others.
Aesop, said No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
Even Franklin D. Roosevelt taught that “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.”
When I look around today, at the decisions and the conversations and the accusations taking main stage in our media, happening IRL and online and I just want to scream.
Those close to me have watched me get wrapped up in the US election and subsequent actions taken by Donald Trump and his pals, with such an insulted, saddened, incredulous attitude. And while I don’t claim to be totally informed about any of the number of complex topics at hand, I can see with great clarity that they – we – as a whole seem to be deprioritizing kindness in the name of consumption, progress, and individual gain.
The idea that things are more important than people has never been more clear (to me anyway).
I see that the institutions in place to serve the people are wrapped up in a wicked cycle of the rich and powerful looking out for the rich and powerful while the poor and marginalized pay the price. That the frustration of the people, people who know they have no impact on policy, is turning into unfocused anger, and into corroding social relationships. That the ideals of solidarity, supporting one another, and sympathy have been shelved in favour of a Kardashian-fueled focus on the material – see fast fashion, see reality tv, see extreme couponing, see the Super Bowl, see social media, (I could go on…).
We’re trolling the internet, shaming, blaming, taking, and idolizing the rich and the beautiful. We’re sure happiness is just beyond reach, and attainable if we lose some weight, make more money, have that next great thing. The proof is on instagram, isn’t it? Happy, beautiful people, squared away with everything they need. And we’re happy to sacrifice our very selves to get there, to get that.
Be That Kind Of Person
It’s may aim then, to join the kindness revolution. To double down on kindness in big and small ways. To be friendly, generous and considerate. To find ways to bring kindness to every table. And this, of course does not mean being a doormat or a pushover. It does not mean allowing myself to be bullied or taken advantage of. It, of course, means treating others with dignity and respect. It, of course, means supporting, sympathizing, and standing in solidarity with those around me – the privileged and the marginalized, the good and the bad.
I believe that the most good I can do is minute by minute and action by action, reprioritize kindness in my life.