Niki of The Richness of a Simple Life’s Kindness Challenge invites us in week 6 to
think of who inspires you to be more kind.
I probably have to say my number one choice is the Dalai Lama.
This is a man who is exiled from his country, has endured the genocide of so many of his people and so much of his culture, and yet he invokes kindness as the way to live. He embodies kindness. I find it hard not to be inspired.
But there are so many people in my life, with whom I have personal connection, that inspire kindness as well. I am extraordinarily blessed, that’s certainly true. But there’s more to it than that, and I’ve been thinking about that this week as well.
First, let me cite this quote from the book On Kindness by Adam Phillips & Barbara Taylor:
“Kindness’s original meaning of kinship or sameness has stretched over time to encompass sentiments that today go by a wide variety of names – sympathy, generosity, altruism, benevolence, humanity, compassion, pity, empathy… The precise meanings of these words vary, but fundamentally they all denote what the Victorians called “open-heartedness,” the sympathetic expansiveness linking self to other.”
Interesting isn’t it that kindness originally meant kinship or sameness?
And interesting as well that this is such a paradox. It’s easy to be kind to those who are “like” us – our tribe, our people, our country – any one of those classifications that is really at the heart of separation. Me – not me.
Yet, this is exactly what the problem is; the problem that shows itself with such clarity, such magnitude, such obviousness in our world today. Until we find our way into understanding that we can celebrate each other’s diversity AND hold the inherent understanding that we are in fact simply different expressions of one unity, we’re in a very stuck place indeed.
I think it’s natural to surround ourselves with people who are like us in some way. But the key is, is to keep enlarging the pool. I believe I am a basically kind person and kindness matters to me. So I invite kindness into my world via the people who I’m in relationship with. Which is why I have so many kind people in my world. I also love creatives, and nine times out of ten they look nothing like me. This is good – this is expansion. This is the “open-heartedness” of true kindness, stretching the me-not me into a cause for celebration, a unifying “us.” Do you see what I’m saying?
Perhaps I strayed far from the focus of this week’s challenge, but the truth is I think there is kindness and wisdom and beauty all around us. And we have to keep expanding our reach; keep opening our hearts; keep remembering as Ram Dass said, “we’re all just walking each other home.”
I was touched by the wisdom expressed in this video by a former CIA employee. Life is complex – it is extraordinarily complex in some ways, and sometimes we need deep and prolonged discussions that are far beyond the scope of our Twitter feeds or our FB updates or even our sometimes too-long blog posts. But we have to step up. All of us. One heart at a time.
So there you have it – a post on kindness offered, I suspect, somewhat from a soapbox. Now it’s your turn. Who inspires kindness in you? Where do you think we should be pouring our kindness efforts right now? Did you know the original meaning of kindness? Do tell – you know I love to hear.