Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Necessity of Kindness

"So often we hand out kindness like it's in short supply
when, in actuality, it's limitless." 

Recent events have underscored the necessity of kindness. Of showing kindness to those we know, but most importantly, of showing kindness to strangers. For me, it's very easy to lull myself into this state of total self-absorption. I can become so concerned with my own struggles and issues--be it graduate school, finances, fitness, homesickness, whatever--that I forget that others have keener hurts and greater burdens.

An everyday example: Driving down the road. Those who know me know that I can become a holy terror behind the wheel. Poor and rude driving (i.e. cutting people off, cruising below the speed in the left lane, failure to yield, or inability to merge, the list goes on...) truly makes my skin crawl and my knuckles whiten. Yet, the other day, I caught myself growing mad, and I thought "This is ridiculous. I don't even know the woman in that car, yet I've allowed her to make me irritated. A total stranger has changed my entire outlook on this day, in a matter of seconds." 

The point is, we don't know what's going on in other people's lives. We don't know what motivates their actions or their words. We don't know what has occurred in their past to make them act with distrust, haste, or anger. We don;t know their coping mechanisms or even if they have anyone to comfort them or help them through their struggle, be it large or small. 

Everyone--even happy people--have an inner struggle. No one leads a perfect, happy-every-day life. Even in this  world of social media--where we always see the beauty and the best of people, strewn across their blogs and pinboards--there is a whole life behind the scenes. A life that no one--maybe no one but the individual themselves--knows. And who am I to add to their burden? Wouldn't it be better if I just reacted with kindness and generosity? To swallow my own ire and pride and simply offer a smile? We often say that our actions speak louder than our words; but really, our reactions speak even more. 

Because, frankly, kindness isn't a privilege. It is a necessity.  


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