Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness. – Seneca
What does that mean?
This quote is about the human condition, and one of our primary jobs as a human being. While we can be kind to animals, plants and even minerals, the real point of our existence begins by being kind to others.
We tend to be kind to those we like. Nothing wrong with that. However, I would hope that we can set our sights a little higher. Can we be kind to those in our family or in our social circles who aren’t our closest friends?
What about humans who are even less closely related, what of them? Can you be kind to them as well? What about complete strangers? That seems to be who the is about, a random human being.
And what about the toughest task of all? Can you bring yourself to be kind to those you don’t like? What about your enemies, those who would do you harm if they could. Can you be that kind?
Why is kindness, especially to others, important?
We started out being kind to our families and our little tribes, as humans grouped in larger numbers, we had to be prepared to give kindness to many others outside our immediate or even extended family.
Now we live in a world which grows more connected every day. Every year, there are more people, friends, coworkers, social contacts, more opportunities to be kind. But do you take advantage of those opportunities?
Is kindness your basic condition, or do you have to work up to it? Do you find it easy, and do you give it freely, or are you more cautious in spreading the kindness around? Do you feel you have a limited amount, and hoard it? Do you consider it a great gift, giving it only to the most worthy?
Can you see how, depending on the answers, different people might approach kindness from widely different viewpoints? Yet kindness is the thing that seems to best reduce friction between humans, and that’s a good thing to have in our lives.
Where can I apply this in my life?
To me, kindness is like ketchup. It goes with everything! Really, I have a T-shirt that says “I put ketchup on my ketchup.” Similarly, I put kindness on my kindness. Not that I’m perfect at either kindness or ketchup, but I try awful hard! And yes, I am serious.
I try to be kind to others every chance I get. I try not to allow myself to pre-judge them. That doesn’t mean I’m not careful around strangers, but I still try to be kind. It doesn’t always work, and sometimes they look at me funny, trying to figure out what I’m really trying to do.
What about you? Do you try that hard? Do you try even harder? Or is it effortless? It seems that way for some people, but I’ve always had to work at it. How widely do you give your kindness? How far out of your way are you willing to go, just to be kind?
As usual, this is an exercise in self-examination, not an opportunity to pass judgement. That’s not my job. Not that writing this is a job, either. It’s a kindness I do for strangers all over the world. I just want you to think about what you do, when you do it, and why.
Sometimes, there isn’t an obvious pattern. Some just go with the flow. Others find their mood is a very important influence on how often and how much effort they put into being kind. But by knowing these things, you can work on how you approach the act of kindness.
The one thing I ask you is this: Is your life better or worse for the kindness which has been shown to you? I have yet to meet someone who has said their life was worse. If your answer was that it is worse, please leave a comment, as I would like to better understand your definition of kindness.
To all, I ask only that you consider helping your fellow humans. As others have shown you kindness, pass kindness on to others. Whatever your frequency of action, try to help a little more often. Whatever the effort you put in, try to put in a little more.
Everyone could use a little more kindness in their life. At least I think so. Do you? Will you help make it happen?
- For the Love of Humanity! (npresablog.com)
- Encouragement and Kindness (afriendofjesus2013.com)
- Have we forgotten how to be kind? | Daisy Buchanan (theguardian.com)
- Human Magic (nolongerinert.wordpress.com)