There’s a commemorative day, week, or month for nearly everything: iguana awareness, kiwi fruit, be nice to New Jersey, toasted marshmallows (all actual commemoratives). As a rule, I ignore such days, excepting National Ice Cream Cone Day, July 21, because, well . . . ice cream.
One other day I like to observe is coming up soon. World Kindness Day is Wednesday, November 13. Designated as a day on which people worldwide attempt to make the world a better place by celebrating and promoting good deeds and pledging acts of kindness, either as individuals or as organizations.
While I think that should be the goal of every day, since it’s not yet, why not at least celebrate this one day? Mark it on your calendar. Put a reminder on your phone. Start thinking now about how you can spread some kindness in a world where it often seems to be in short supply. Continue reading →
“Our children are the living messages we send to a future we will never see… Will we rob them of their destiny? Will we rob them of their dreams? No – we will not do that.” (Elijah Cummings)
In a week that offered a cornucopia of deceit, corruption, disrespect, and disappointment, many of us found hope and reassurance in—of all places—a funeral.
Congressman Elijah Cummings’ death on October 17 stunned and saddened so many Americans. He was a consistent voice for justice, for equality, and for right action. He was also, as Chair of the House Oversight Committee, a key figure in efforts to protect our democracy. And, as so many eulogizers noted, Congressman Cummings was also a relentlessly kind man.
I was brought to tears by former President Barack Obama’s eulogy—a brief, lovely, and quintessentially Obama speech (oh, how I have missed those!). Continue reading →
“The secret of living well is not in having all the answers, but in pursuing unanswerable questions in good company.” (Rachel Naomi Remen, MD)
Since publication of A Year of Living Kindly last fall, I’ve had numerous opportunities to talk with groups about kindness. What an immense privilege! People aren’t shy about sharing their own stories of kindness, and the questions they ask are nearly always wise and perceptive. It’s like that with blogging, too—your comments invite me to see a different perspective, or sometimes they make me think a bit more deeply about my topic. And sometimes you make me laugh when I need it most.
I’ve noticed that often the same question will come up in talks and on the blog at almost the same time. It may just be coincidence, but it may also be triggered by a current event or a high-profile news story.
Recently, one question has surfaced repeatedly. The wording may have been different, but the meaning the same:
“Why should I be kind to unkind people?”
“Isn’t treating a jerk with kindness just rewarding him for being a jerk?”
“What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded … sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.” (George Saunders)
I’ve had a lot of opportunities over the last year to talk with groups about kindness. One of the questions I’m often asked is, “Why is it so hard? . . . . Why is something obviously desirable and seemingly easy sometimes so difficult to actually do?”
I generally respond by describing the typical barriers to our kindness, the first of which is fear. And fear comes in many flavors: Fear of having our kindness rejected or misunderstood, fear of doing it wrong, fear of drawing attention to ourselves and causing embarrassment. Beyond fear, we may not know the right thing to do, or we claim not to have time, or we’re often simply oblivious.
Our brains can find any number of reasons for not doing something that may cross our minds as an impulse or notion. Continue reading →