What is kindness?
According to the online dictionary, kindness is defined as “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.” But to me, it’s a lot more than that.
In Australia, we are currently in a state of emergency from the ever growing bush fires that are plaguing many of our states. I would say now, more than ever, is a time for us to band together. To simply be kind, lend a helping hand and show support as much as possible.
But I find myself reading anger and hate messages as I scroll through Facebook. Mostly about the Prime Minister going away for a week with his family during this tragic natural disaster that is not only taking human lives and homes, but thousands of our animals lives as well. Over 2000 Koala’s lives lost so far – enduring a death I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
But despite the fact that we are going through this ongoing tragedy, why does it matter that this one person was on holidays? Aren’t so many others also on holidays this time of year? Isn’t he still a human being with a family? Doesn’t he have a huge team of people to cover for him while he’s gone? Is he meant to put on a firefighter suit and physically fight the fires himself? And if that’s the case, shouldn’t we all be doing the same?
Where do these double standards come from? Where does this hate and anger come from? Where we should we using all our energy to support our firefighters in any way we can, and support those of us afflicted by the fires, we simply look for someone to blame. And sadly, that’s the way it’s always been. When we’re afraid or angry, it’s easier to blame someone than to admit that everything that’s happening is completely out of our control.
This is just one current situation that I can think of in our country, where hate and blame is rearing it’s ugly head in the face of tragedy – but I can think of many little occurrences on any given day.
I can see judgement and cruelty from one person to another, in little comments, in bitchy looks between women, in coward punches between men, in people putting each other down just to make themselves feel a little better.
But why? What is the purpose of this?
I mean hey, I’m no saint. I’ve made mistakes and unintentionally hurt people, but I regret every single time and learnt my lesson each time. To me, kindness should be easy, it shouldn’t be an effort. But the sad fact is that it is on some occasions. Sometimes we need someone to actually point out that we’re being nasty, that we need to put more effort into being kind.
But the truth is, we have NO idea what someone is going through behind closed doors. We have no idea what their life is really like. You may stand there having a conversation with a friend, maybe even judging what they’re saying because you think you know them so well, but you don’t. You can never know everything about someone.
One of my best friends read the first chapter of my book the other day, and said she never realised that there is so much she never knew about my past. And that came from a best friend who I told SO much back in the day about that exact situation. And yet, she still only saw the tip of the iceberg.
So, that’s where kindness becomes important… Because a simple act or a simple comment can make or break someone’s day, depending on what they’re going through. I have no doubt that those comments to the Prime Minister would have affected him greatly, and in reality we have no idea what his personal life is like.
Every day has been a battle for me for a while, and because women can occasionally be bitchy, I’ve had those days made much much worse on occasions. And that’s just me. I have no doubt that it has happened to every single one of us on more than one occasion.
What about the Vegas shooting in America in 2017? Weapons weren’t allowed into that concert, and many people commented that if they’d been allowed their guns that day, maybe things would have turned out differently. But how did they intend to shoot back at a rifleman on the 40th level of a building? It’s quite possible it would have done more harm than good, and hurt more innocent people. Why are we fighting fire with fire? Violence with violence? Hate with hate? … Are we just making matters worse?
The short answer is yes, we are. Fear can bring out a lot of ugly emotions and reactions in people, and it’s just the way of the world. It’s just part of being human.
But practice makes perfect. So practice kindness every day. Bypass that bitchy comment you were about to make, overlook how her shoes don’t match her handbag, think before you throw that punch, have some empathy before you toss blame around. We’re all going through something, so have courage, and be kind. ❤