Be kind. It’s a simple command and yet in these days it appears to be increasingly difficult to embrace kindness as an antidote to mean spirited behavior and ill will. Our polarized culture often resembles the nature and character of our national politics, an “us versus them” mentality. In this holiday season where friends and families gather together, where communities come together to give to those less fortunate, and people of faith celebrate their respective faith practices, it sometimes appears that we are merely “performing kindness.” That is to say that we only use the season of giving to “act out” gestures of caring and kindness rather than make it an integral part of our lives and embrace it as a way of life rather than a seasonal performance. Imagine if we channeled the “good will” towards our fellow human beings that we demonstrate at this time of the year and directed it towards the practices and policies that we engage in at all other times of the year. What would be the outcome?
How we treat one another is indicative of so many things we see within our respective communities, our families and our nation. Kindness is something that can be therapeutic and unifying even in the midst of profound disagreement and difference. Kindness increases our respect for humanity and our respect for our connection to other human beings. Acts of kindness create connections and empathy for the frailties and shortcomings of other people and increase our ability to accept our own. When we give our time and attention to someone else’s concerns, it often gives us an opportunity to see our own circumstances differently. Sometimes we need to take our eyes off of ourselves in order to recognize that we may be in a better position than we actually thought we were. It can help us to count our own blessings when we make an attempt to bless others.
Kindness is FREE. It costs nothing to be kind to another human being. Saying “Thank you”, to people who are serving you in a restaurant or at a store may “make” what has been for them an incredibly hectic day where they felt little to no appreciation for what they do. Holding the door open for another person who is clearly struggling can increase someone’s faith in the goodness of people after a particularly problematic encounter with another person. A smile, a gesture, a kind word or a small gift of human kindness may be just the thing someone needs in that moment.
We do not know the struggles that many people have at this time of year. For many people it is not a happy holiday season. They may have lost someone very close to them. There may have been some great tragic event that they associate with this time of the year and they continue to grieve each and every year when the holidays approach. We do not know what a simple kind word or act of kindness might do to lift someone’s spirit.
Whether you personally celebrate the holiday season or not, the overall intention wrapped up in this time of the year is to be a blessing to others and to give love, joy and peace to our fellow human beings. And THAT is a good thing! Let us take the “spirit of the season” from just a few weeks all the way into the New Year! Let us be kind one to another. Kindness is FREE!