Recently, I met a young woman who described her religion as “kindness.” Intrigued, I wanted to know more, so we met for coffee and she shared her life story. What was most interesting was not only the words that she used (“My religion is kindness”), but if you look at what she does, her actions continually match those very words. This got me thinking: What the world needs now more than ever is a resurgence of kind people that speak, act and live with a generous attitude of kindness towards other people, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political views, whether they are 80’s or 90’s Metallica fans, or any other characteristics that we use to discriminate and hate others.
It Should Be Second-Nature, But It’s Not
Acting with kindness towards all people is not something that should be solely reserved for the elected, the elite or the enlightened. It should be a daily pursuit that each and every one of us seek. Unfortunately, that is not reality. We let our selfishness and greed get in the way of treating people the way we would want to be treated. Our love for money, success and “stuff” affects the way that we behave. We want what we want, when we want it, which is often immediately. Many of us stand upon our religious beliefs and convictions, entitled by our salvation, praising our savior and, in the same breath, damning our fellow man because they don’t agree with us.
Thankfully, there are more and more people that are wanting to find another way and to live a life that is respectful and uplifting to others. They see the hell on earth that has been created by not treating others with dignity and respect, and they want nothing to do with that hatred. They believe that the higher we view ourselves, the lower others will appear, so life is an equal playing field.
Communities of Kindness
It is interesting to see the connection between community and kindness. Communities that care for all of its members are naturally more kind and inclusive, people want to be around others that are kind to everyone. By immersing yourself among people that raise the bar for being kind to others, it will push you to be more kind. And most importantly, it will teach you the difference between being nice for the sake of pleasantries, and being kind for the sake of humanity.
With that, it is important to distinguish the difference between being nice and living out kindness. Being nice is acting differently from how you actually feel. Deep down inside you hate someone’s guts, but you put on a smile, say hi, and act “nice.” All this does is perpetuate your feelings of animosity, instead of learning to be kind to that person. By learning to get over negative feelings, you can learn to be a better human, and you can learn to be kind, because living out kindness means that you get over prejudice and hurt. It means that you learn to accept that you are human, that you will get hurt, that no one is perfect and that everyone deserves a kind word from a stranger, from a friend, from a loved one and a family member.
I am challenged to be daily living out kindness. This means that I don’t hoard my knowledge, limit my praise, or withhold my love because someone didn’t live up to my expectations. The truth is that no one can live up to anyone’s expectations and once I understand, believe and live according to that actuality, my world becomes that much brighter, more beautiful and representative of what could be, if we all were living examples of kindness.