We have recently witnessed the result of one man's madness that was unleashed on a group of innocent people in Tucson, Ariz. This recent horror occurred largely because no one responded when the young killer was previously silently screaming for help. And then we witnessed two prominent voices speak up, one in defense of herself and one encouraging greater kindness and compassion.
Sarah Palin used the occasion to defend her own mistakes, such as targeting Congresswoman Gifford, in the process making herself appear to be both the injured party and the savior. She criticized those who "manufactured a blood libel" against her (without realizing what it meant), rather than accepting that she might have erred.
In contrast, at the memorial for the victims, President Obama urged us all to look at our own behavior:
At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized ... it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we're talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds... We may ask ourselves if we've shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives... What matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame, but rather, how well we have loved and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better.
The world is made up of endless difficulties and challenges, but blaming others or losing our cool does not resolve the conflict. Such self-centeredness is not kind or compassionate; rather, it breeds greed, hatred and further delusion. When we are self-centered, we think of ourselves first; when we are kind, we think of both ourselves and others.
Wikipedia describes a revolution as a "fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time." Normally applied to politics, we believe that this can also be applied to our own inner structures: how we think, talk and behave with each other.
A revolution also means a turning around, so a kindness revolution means turning ourselves away from hate, self-centeredness and derision, toward caring, kindness and compassion. And a revolution is a re-evolution, an opportunity to transcend differences so we can offer genuine respect to one another. Kindness is completely revolutionary: it will change each one of us, it will change others, and it will definitely change the world.
How different our world would be if we were all just a bit more compassionate and kind! So what is it that prevents us? Kindness is free, it never goes bad, it has no sell-by date, we can never get enough of it, and we can never give enough of it. As the Dalai Lama says, "kindness is my religion."
However, kindness is often overlooked or undervalued, which is a pity as it takes only a very small amount of it to turn someone's day from bad to wonderful. Discover kindness. Practice being kind to others for the whole day and see how good you feel. Then try doing it for a week, or even a lifetime!
What does being kind mean to you? Can you see how to bring more kindness into your life? Do comment below.
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