November 13 was World Kindness Day, a day dedicated to showing some extra kindness to strangers and loved ones as a mark of reinstating the faith in humanity that seems to be on the wane right now. Quite an irony, that we now need to have a day to remind ourselves to be kind, humane and generally nice to each other!
It is especially surprising when we realise how fundamental kindness is to the human existence— thrust as we are into this world, to be enriched with the kindness of our caregivers and nurturers from the time of our birth until we grow up to be self-reliant. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that in some ways, we are all wired to be kind, as it is sewn into our DNA. Why, right from our formative years, we’ve mostly been raised with the values to be kind, caring and thoughtful to all living beings.
So, why then, do we forget to be kind to one another, when it doesn’t even cost us anything? Why does it not come naturally to us?
Apparently, it doesn’t. Because it is a conscious choice that we make each time we choose to be kind.
In a world where anyone can be anything, it is true that very few people actually choose to be kind. As parents, we almost always teach our kids to be always street savvy, smart and successful, but how often do we emphasize the need to be kind as well—kind to themselves and kind to others? No surprises for guessing why. It is a cut-throat world that we live in today, where selfies, self-promotions and marketing rules and human values are slowly becoming expendable commodities.
In this growing climate of pessimism and skepticism, it is indeed heartwarming to come across some amazing stories of kindness that not affirm our belief, that real-life heroes do exist, who not only restore our faith in humanity every day but who also remind us, that we are morally obliged to do our bit to ensure the power of kindness passes on. If everybody did one tiny act of kindness, imagine the cumulative effect of that circle. These heroes with their random, everyday acts of love, compassion and kindness teach and inspire us to reach out, to help another fellow-being, to ease their pain and bring a smile to their faces and help them live with dignity.
Because, knowingly or unknowingly, everybody in this world is fighting a battle that we know nothing about. Because it takes so little for us and costs absolutely nothing to be kind. A little consideration, a friendly touch, a gentle smile, a kind word, a thoughtful gesture—all small things that go a long way, no matter how insignificant they may seem to be at the time. Remember the time when someone gave up their seat for you or when someone held the door for you? Or think of the time when you volunteered to carry the bags of the elderly lady who lives down the road? Or the meal you shared with the home help who forgot to carry her food to work? Recall the feelings in either case and remember how grateful and happy you felt.
Only when we’ve been there, we may truly learn to appreciate what we’ve received and given, and feel blessed in sharing this wonderful feeling that binds all mankind so uniquely, suspended by this delicate thread of humanity, love and compassion.
What do you think of kindness in today’s world? If our goal is to build people up, to make them feel better, to share in their joy, be kind, in thought, words and actions and teach the same to the future generations, then we are doing exactly what we need to do. It has never been more relevant than now when technology pervades in almost all aspect of our lives, and we seem to be slowly losing touch with the essential human values of kindness and compassion in our lives.
In fact, the world is in such a dire need of kindness today that alongside instilling values in our children’s minds, let us not forget to teach them to place kindness first, even if it means that sometimes, it will come at the cost of being right.
Let’s resolve to be kind, without expecting anything in return, not only when special occasions demand, but on an everyday basis. Let’s make kindness the norm and see the ripple effect of happiness and satisfaction it can create in our lives.
We must be kind not by judging who is worthy of our kindness, but by being so unconditionally, especially when we prefer not to be. That, perhaps, is our real test.
Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly and the most underrated agent of human change.