I’ve been thinking about the effects of kindness and the effects of being mean for the past several weeks. October was National Bullying Prevention Month. As a teacher I am very aware of what bullying can do to a child. It has the same affect on adults. Of course we want to end bullying, but I’ve been thinking that we need to go one step beyond just not bullying that and that we can be a mighty force for good if we institute being kind to everyone regardless of age, race, social status, religion, and level of acquaintance to us, or even whether they deserve it or not.
As I reflect on kindness, I must ask myself the following questions:
Am I kind to family members, friends, acquaintances, and strangers? Do I speak with harshness or kindness when things don’t go my way? Am I impatient with others because they don’t understand what I’m asking them to do or because they don’t do it fast enough or maybe don’t do it at all? Do I speak positive or negative things? Do I greet everyone I see with a smile and a hello? Do people view me as grumpy or happy when they interact with me?
Recently one of my dear friends lost her college age daughter in a tragic accident. Of course her heart is broken. But one of the positive things about this painful tragedy is that my friend was able to get a glimpse of her daughter’s life through the eyes of friends and acquaintances who knew her and who were touched by her willingness to be kind and treat everyone, literally everyone, she met with kindness. This young woman spoke to people who were not in her normal circle of friends. She was kind to stray animals and stray people of all persuasions. My friend’s heart was filled with love and gratitude as an entire town and college community embraced her family in their time of heartbreak and shared story after story about how this young woman touched the lives of others.
Wikipedia says that kindness is behavior marked by ethical characteristics, a pleasant disposition and concern for others. In many religions and cultures kindness is viewed as a virtue. Real kindness changes people, both those giving it and those receiving it. Kindness is catching, as is the opposite, hating. Think of those you know of who have been kind in the most dire of circumstances such as Mother Teresa or the firefighters on 9/11. We view these people as heroes, but were their acts not acts of kindness? Mother Teresa’s day-by-day life consisted of one small act of kindness after another. The firefighters’ day-by-day jobs consisted of one small act of kindness after another. Yes, we remember their acts of bravery and compassion on 9/11, but their character development that sent them into the World Trade Center that day happened prior, one helping act of kindness at a time. They believed they could make a difference, and they did.
We are moving into the holiday season when we reflect upon the things we are grateful for. Perhaps this Thanksgiving, we can be a blessing in the life of someone else because we are simply kind, patient, and perhaps even helpful. We can let our kindness start at home and ripple out to everyone we meet like the ripples on the water when a stone is thrown into a pond.
I came upon this quote recently. It is something to remember as I strive to be more kind.
“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”
—John Wesley (1703-1791)
Happy Thanksgiving to you my readers.