In praise of kindness
I think there is a general lack of kindness in the world today. I underscore general because there are acute spikes in kindness. The holidays bring out kindness. Major catastrophes bring out kindness as hearts are opened to the victims. But, the sort of generalized, steady stream of kindness could be much more abundant in my opinion.
The other day in a conversation with my sister, she said something that was a wonderful example of the sort of kindness I am talking about. What she said gave me great joy, and honestly moved me to tears. She won’t ever know how much I appreciated what she said. I bring this instance up for two reasons: (1) I just want to acknowledge that my sister embodies the sort of kindness I am writing about and (2) This sort of simple kindness, if repeated on a daily basis, many times throughout each day, will change the world. When I got home after my conversation with my sister, I wanted to share that kindness with my family. I wonder what would happen if I had this way about me on a continual basis. What if I could do this despite daily annoyances, like a commute, that have the potential to take the generosity and kindness out of me (if I let them)?
The last few months have demonstrated to me that there will be seasons in life when those who have been the givers of kindness and service will be the recipients of kindness. Along these lines, I have come to understand better that among the greatest joys in my life have been when I have either been the provider or beneficiary of kindness. Perhaps I am an anomaly, but I don’t think I am. On the other hand, if I am right that kindness is a quasi “free lunch” for happiness, why do we not avail ourselves of this tool for increased happiness? I honestly do not have an answer to that. However, what if we said no to the impulse to be driven by anger, pride, or a general way of living embodied in the phrase “what’s in it for me?”
I would like to issue a sort of kindness challenge. It won’t be hard to participate. There is a passage in the Bible that says, “…lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees[.]” The thing I like about this passage is the descriptive nature of it. I can picture the individual with hands hanging down, almost lifeless, tired by life, hardship, or set backs. Feeble knees conjures up the image of one too weak to stand (on their own). I feel like I have seen the image depicted in the above passage innumerable times in people I come across daily. That’s why it won’t be hard to participate in a kindness challenge. There is no shortage of need for kindness. But, just as my sister showed me it does not take much. It takes being there in the moment, prepared to say a kind word. At the end of the day, we’re in this life together. What I am talking about is about solidarity as human beings making the most of life. So, I offer these few words in praise of kindness that it might be more prominent and squeeze out the hateful and the acerbic. What a lovely ideal!