Anybody can be kind.
You don’t have to be smart or rich, technologically savvy, rugged, scientific, or glittery — attributes our society admires so much that we confer a state of godhood on those who possess them. Faces are famous basically because their owners make a lot of money, and this means — experts explain — that they are also good and friendly and likable, generous and giving, so totally wonderful that ordinary mortals cannot possibly affect the world in the way they can.
Their philanthropy and good works, we are told, make a REAL difference.
But how so very, very untrue.
Aside from the misconceptions that monetary success goes hand in hand with moral virtue, that those who wield power are intrinsically benevolent, that intelligence equates wisdom, mass media’s fallacious teaching also implies that ordinary people do not possess anything meaningful enough to be worthwhile: we are not rich enough, smart enough, powerful enough, beautiful enough, funny enough.
But anybody can be kind. And kindness always makes a difference.
Small Kindness: Big Impact
Think about it: on a day in which you were feeling low, discouraged, tired, bitter — what was the impact of a stranger’s kindness: a smile, their waving you on to the parking space they were aiming at for themselves, their handing you the dollar you lacked to pay for your purchases? While the action was small, it made a subtle alteration to your day.
Or what about the acts of kindness toward you that you don’t know about — those times when your name and situation arose among a group of friends, acquaintances, co-workers, in which someone’s voice dropped to say, “I heard that they . . .” while others exchanged sage nods and knowing glances? But someone there said to themselves, “I don’t know their situation, and it’s not up to me to judge,” and aloud, “Regardless of whether it’s their ‘fault’ or not, they are hurting, and that’s nothing to laugh about.”
That small act of kindness defused a situation in which you were being harmed.
Opportunities for Kindness Abound
No huge check was involved, no photo op, no praise from a talk show host. Just an ordinary person chose to do something kind in the course of his or her day. Such a person, making a habit of this, adds small jolts of goodness to various people’s lives each and every day. A number of such persons makes an impact large enough to be noticed, altering the environment around them from one of criticism, judgment, and indifference to one of caring, compassion, and thoughtfulness. Kindness.
The opportunities to be kind are boundless, the need so great that we don’t have to actively look for them, but rather, be ready to act at a moment’s notice: smile, defer judgment, refuse to be baited into an argument, defend a person who can’t speak for himself, donate a can to the food bank, bite our tongue instead of use it as a lash, give to someone who asks without worrying about whether they are trying to cheat us. It’s not a matter of being doormats — we definitely need to stand up for ourselves against powerful establishments whose motives have nothing to do with kindness — but when it comes to dealing with individual people, we rarely err on the side of too much kindness.
Kindness and Leadership
In short, we act toward others in the way that we wish others would act toward us. And just because we feel they don’t is no reason for us to wait until they do. Determining to be kind is a true act of leadership — not the pseudo-leadership of false confidence and blustering swagger — but a decision to do what is right, to speak what is true, to be a person of integrity in a world that laughs at innocence and equates it with stupidity.
Anyone can be kind.
Can you imagine what the world would look like if everyone were?
The Annual Canned Food Drive is the Art Event through January 31, 2019 at Wenaha Gallery. For every canned food item brought into the gallery through January 31, the giver receives $2 off their next custom framing order, up to 20% off total. All proceeds benefit the Dayton Community Food Bank.
Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.