Most of the world’s most spiritually enlightened thinkers and philosophers have emphasized the importance of kindness, compassion, and love. As we see above, The Dalai Lama certainly feels that way, but so did Jesus, Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as many others.
And yet, instead of showing kindness, people are spending a lot of time these days being offended instead. In the (typically erroneous) name of righteous indignation, the “death” of morality, and the fall of the nation, people are busting a gut over wedding ceremonies, flag designs, immigration patterns, and are up in arms over, well, arms.
The great thing about kindness, though, is that it knows no political, religious, geographical, gender, orientation, or ethnic bounds. It is entirely non-partisan and non-denominational.
You can be kind to anyone, anywhere.
Even animals. Even bugs.
Even One Direction fans.
And of course teachers possess a unique responsibility for kindness. More than just understanding kindness as a professional obligation, we are “called” as educators who touch the future to display and model compassion—to the academic underachiever, to the grumpy administrator, to the mis-behaver, to the bully, to the mediocre colleague, to the social outcast. Our sacred mission–in addition to teaching about commas, or polynomials, or ceramics, or The Magna Carta–is to extend grace and love to the best and the least among us. And to do it willingly. And skillfully. And adroitly.
And sometimes that’s just a big fat hassle, isn’t it? Sometimes it isn’t convenient. Or fun. Or we feel the recipient doesn’t deserve it (which is the number one reason to DO it, by the way). I’m the first to confess that sometimes I don’t WANT to show someone mercy, or empathy, or patience. I just don’t. Especially if I feel that the person in question has in some way made my life more difficult.
But the truth is: Showing someone kindness really isn’t really that hard.* And if you look at the list of luminaries mentioned above, you’ll soon see that giving away even a little kindness can change the world.
So ask yourself:
Who can I be kind to today?
Who can I serve?
To whom can I extend grace, love, and compassion?
Whose life can I make a little bit easier?
Whose burden can I lessen?**
Go on. Give it a shot.
Even if it doesn’t it doesn’t work so well.
Even if it crashes and burns.
Because not only do I guarantee that the more kindness you give away, the more happy, fulfilled, peaceful, and full of Zen you will feel, but also because the more you do it, the better you’ll get.
And you know what? When it comes to giving away kindness. . .
We all need the practice. TZT
*In a day or two, I’ll give you some suggestions about how you can show kindness.
** Coincidence that “lessen” sounds like “lesson?” I think not!