Friday, February 27, 2009

What Happened to Kindness?

Do we ever look inside ourselves and wonder if we are capable of unkind acts? We all have the ability to lie, cheat, and steal…harm people in various ways. With words, with actions…with non-action.

Why do we do and say things that we know we should not? Why do we not do and say things we know we should?What keeps malevolence at bay and what causes some to be consumed by selfishness and egotism?

What happens when your actions and words make you question the person you were raised to be? Someone you no longer recognize? Someone whose reflection does not mirror any of the values and principles you’ve instilled in yourself? Someone whose morality conflicts with every fiber of your being?

Most of us were reared with a careful eye and a strong hand. Each of us hoping, as mature adults, to be fine examples of solid parenting and fundamental values.

But the modern world in which we live in can cause us to leave basic principles of tolerance and patience by the wayside in return for the easy and quick fix of immediacy and selfishness.

Lately, we tend to treat each other with rough abrasiveness. The troubled economy has us thinking about ourselves and how we will pay the bills, the rent…how we will forge ahead with a skyrocketing unemployment rate. In troubled times, we tend to turn inward and hold steadfast to the “I” mentality.

We cut each other off in traffic and let doors go unheld. We race each other in big box stores to check out our items quicker, and we hold our heads down, busying ourselves with keys and full arms rather than nod or stop to offer a friendly wave to our neighbors. We send quick text messages filled with “R U busy 2nite?” and “C U L8R” and short misspelled and non-heartfelt e-mails to our friends and family members rather than taking great care with our communication. Long gone are the days of lengthy chat-fests with close friends and two-page handwritten letters to our loved ones that live miles away. “Life” has taken over and has filled every moment with “to-dos” and “must accomplish tasks”.

How did this darkness find us? Did it steal into our lives or did we seek it out and embrace it? When did we lose our way?

Few of us really realize that slowing down our pace and taking the time to offer a few kind words for a friend, a fellow co-worker, or even a passing stranger is not only free and easy, but the act offers echoes and reverberations that are truly endless.

When we bestow love and kindness on others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.

As Amelia Earhart once said, “No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.”

It may be long past the New Year, but wouldn’t it be amazing if everyone could at least resolve to be kind? For everyone we meet is fighting a hard battle, struggling upwards and towing their own line. You never know when your small act of kindness might return itself tenfold…giving you the confidence and strength you might need to overcome your own struggles.

Can we overcome this darkness? Is it possible to replace society’s obsession with self with a new philosophy of kindness and empathy?

It’s certainly something I hope for.