It seemed like a straight forward enough question, what does kindness mean to me? But it took 6 hours of walking, much laughter, a suspect Wesley Snipes sighting, a lot of sangria and a power nap to get to the answer.
Today was spent with a group of friends on the streets of Melbourne - shooting for The Embassy of Kindness, a new project started by Amal and Kan, two long time friends, to share stories and images of kindness with world. A long overdue idea I say, we live our lives in a time where the negative is promoted, where bad things go viral and we are surrounded by all that is bad in the world.
I’m not saying we should bury our heads in the sand and pretend the bad things aren’t happening, we need to know what is going on out there. Nor am I saying we should we spend our lives ignoring the things that need to change, how can we make this world a better place if we all turn a blind eye. But here’s the thing, as a species we have conditioned ourselves to focus on all that is bad in the world and ignore the good. Check the evening news broadcasts, read the newspapers, check your Facebook feed for that matter.
I know that survival instincts teach us to identify threats so that we learn and avoid the danger, but surely we have reached a stage in our development where we can identify a threat through a positive interpretation. You can see the change starting in ads for charities. Where 30 years ago, they would show the pain and suffering they were trying to alleviate, now they are starting to show the positive outcomes they are achieving. Still highlighting the problem but showing the positive effects they have had in sanitation or education or helping people get back on their feet. Why hasn’t the news or social media followed suit?
Even a small act of kindness can have significant outcomes. It’s the ripple effect, the largest tidal wave started as the smallest ripple. As Scott Adams said:
“Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”
The person being kind experiences positive effects, the person receiving the kindness experiences positive effects, the people witnessing it, the people hearing the story, the list goes on. The effect is exponential.
I digress, but you know I do that, there is so much good in the world, but it largely goes unnoticed, so a movement that promotes kindness is worth shouting about. So, to answer the question posed to me today by Amal and Kan, after considering many different options, acts of kindness, giving, politeness, a smile, an offer of help, a kind thought, comforting the suffering, supporting those in need, a please or a thank you… the list goes on. So for me it is this:
Kindness is a generosity of spirit. Wether it is in thought or action, identified or anonymous. It is the giving of ourselves, the sharing of our humanity, the remembrance that we are all one and the same.
Go forth my friends, lets make this world a better place one act of kindness at a time.