Do we have the courage to be kind?

"Each person has inside a basic decency and goodness. If he listens to it and acts on it, he is giving a great deal of what it is the world needs most. It is not complicated but it takes courage. It takes courage for a person to listen to his own goodness and act on it."  '  Pablo Casals.

Do we have that courage to listen to the intrinsic decency and act on the promptings of inherent goodness? We hear that voice but we most often drown it out in the deafening silence of indifference. I cannot get involved. I do not have the time. Why should I when nobody else is lifting a finger? People will think I am crazy. There are many others to do it if I don't. These are some of the lame arguments we put forward to justify our inaction.

In times of great calamity, natural or man made, the hero in each of us rises to the challenge. At such moments nobility and strength of character propel us way beyond our means to be kind and helpful. The tragedy subsides and so does our huge wave of sympathy. We have the gratification of knowing we did our duty and that's the end of it till some other catastrophe again pulls at our heartstrings. But what we are talking about here are everyday heroes who do simple acts of kindness and goodness, which often go unnoticed except by the one whose life we touch. We are not referring to bright occasional flashes but constant little flames that glow in the duskiness of someone's life, even a stranger's, to enrich it with loving-kindness. We are talking about that largesse of heart, that often puts the need of another before personal appeasement.

Small, unplanned acts that become the purpose and habit of life, not a hobby to be pursued in spare time. A warm smile to cheer someone's sadness, a word of comfort, encouragement or genuine praise; an expression of gratitude for a service rendered. Even those whose services we pay for need to be recognized and valued. A little more patience and understanding, a little less anger with spouses, children, family members, friends, colleagues, co-travelers and strangers; a little more appreciative understanding for housemaids, delivery boys, the bus conductor or the watchman in your society; just that iota of consideration for the elderly and the differently challenged stretches more than a mile in making life beautiful for all concerned. Kindness cannot and should not be a platform for indulgence or permissiveness. True kindness firmly refuses to indulge someone in what is not good for that person or for the community.

Kindness gift-wrapped in bright packets of love, thoughtfulness, empathy, patience, forgiveness etc. costs very little but brings tremendous joy to the beneficiary and benefactor. It is also infectious. This assertion is validated by the enthusiastic response to an article in the April 2004 issue of the Reader's Digest (Indian edition). 'He's One Of a Kind' in the Everyday Heroes section is about Mr. Vasant Kalbag and his movement called Kindness Unlimited. Its aim is to spread the concept of random kindness wherein self-interest is balanced by interest of society at large. It is catching on rapidly, particularly amongst youngsters and children. Childhood is the right time to inculcate the trait of kindness and how better can one do it than by example? It is a habit that will fortify the child's character and help him grow into a well-balanced, beautiful person. Let us then empower our children with the immense values of sharing and caring. Let us unite in kindness and form lasting unbiased partnerships between children, parents, teachers and communities. Let us start an epidemic of kindness.

"There is no better exercise for your heart than reaching down and helping to lift someone up."  ' Bernard Meltzer

There is little more gratifying and rewarding than this. Kindness is a spiritual exercise that brings its own payoff. The fringe benefits of kindness are priceless. It enhances personal happiness and is the hallmark of a successful life. Kindness is an antidote to one's own sadness and sorrow. It has tangible positive effects on the physical and emotional health of the doer. It raises our standard of awareness. It juxtaposes self-interest and the interest of the 'other' consequently fostering mutual respect and harmony. It forges better relationships.

In the Olympics of Life, the medals of accomplishment, health, success, joy, inspiration and spiritual enrichment can be ours for the picking, directly proportional to the investment we make in kindness. We simply need to participate in the relay and keep passing the baton of kindness. Like love, kindness can never be given away. It comes back a thousand fold one way or another, from virtually unexpected quarters when we need it most. And who doesn't need a bit of kindness sometime or the other? So let us be active participants in spreading sunshine and thus endow our own spirituality. We have nothing to lose by being kind. Someone made happy by our little act will unknowingly pass it on, perhaps to a neighbor; the neighbor will send it forward to a friend and the friend again to someone else. The impact of each small act is unimaginable! The world will literally change around you and for you by the unforeseen ripples created by your small act. The chain of events set rolling by your kind deed can be surprising! It will miraculously reach out to uplift scores of lives! By being kind YOU can make miracles happen, so why wait?

The Ripple Effect
Author Unknown

Drop a pebble in the water,
just a splash and it is gone,
but there are half-a-hundred ripples,
circling on and on and on.
Spreading to the center,
flowing onward to the sea,
and there is no way of telling
where the end is going to be.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness,
just a splash and it is gone,
but there are half-a-hundred ripples
circling on and on and on,
bearing hope and joy and comfort
on each splashing, dashing wave--
'til you wouldn't believe the volume
of the one kind word you gave.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness,
in a minute you forget.
But there is gladness still a-swelling,
and there's joy a-circling yet.
For you've rolled a wave of comfort
whose sweet music can be heard,
over miles and miles of water all around the world,
by just dropping--
One Kind Word.  


More by :  Shernaz Wadia

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