In a world where you can be anything, be kind. These words are so simple and so powerful, but only if we really internalise them. From the moment of our birth, we are moving to the end our life as we know it, yet we choose to live like we are permanent. And we then choose also to make ourselves the centre of our universe. In doing so, we prioritise only our needs, our wants, our desires, our wishes over anyone else’s. Perhaps we are designed to be like this, or we have conditioned ourselves over time and traditions. So, then moving beyond our centrality becomes a choice, a conscious choice we must make to be more present, more open and more loving.
Kindness, it turns out, is hard. It requires the practice of awareness. And often, it comes only with age where the diminishing years teach you the more important and meaningful things in life. With the years comes the wisdom of how illogical it is to be selfish. And in your sunset years, you know for real that there is nothing that you can take with you. Your position, your power, your assets, your family, your friends… nothing; but what you can do is to leave, to let go. And when you leave behind a trail of love and kindness, you would have in reality, lived the very best life.
I think it takes immense courage to be kind. It may not look it; and often people do misinterpret kindness as a sign of weakness in a world that constantly demands that you assert yourself to be seen, to be heard, to be validated. A world that tells you that you are not enough if you do not wear a certain type of clothes, own a vehicle and a house, have a bank balance, take trips abroad, travel first class, have a following on the internet, dine at the finest restaurants, the list can just go on. Even in the world of philanthropy and social development, there are so few that work in silence.
The golden rule I grew up with was to treat others as you wish to be treated, and to ask of others only that which you yourself can do. I was taught that bringing the elements of authenticity, transparency, warmth, trust, empowering others and good intent was a meaningful way of interacting with the world. I am glad I had those lessons early in life. I am glad that a moral compass was built for me not to judge others but to ingrain in me the values of what it means to be kind, even in my most difficult days. I am glad for that guidance, and for what I continue to receive from my spiritual masters and people like Maggie Doyne who lives her kindness between the mountain and the sky. Kindness lies in sacrifice, love, fearlessness and humility. It’s what builds a hopeful world.