Kindness in Today's Society
Graphic images of worn torn countries, death, undated photos of missing children and the dying Earth are splashed across the covers of newspapers and magazines. As if that is not enough to send shivers of fear through our subconsciousness, newscasters announce over the radio and television the rising number of casualties resulting from war, natural disasters, traffic accidents and gang related uprisings. All this news is real, but what ever happened to our humanity? We, as humans, have many great gifts and one such gift is the ability to empathize.
We are completely drawn into a story that is presented to us, whether it is read from a book or presented in the format of a movie, a TV show or a stream over the Internet. From the beginning of the story, we focus on what is being presented and we then begin to associate our feelings and experiences with the characters in the stories. Frequently we laugh when it's funny, cry when it's sad, become angry when injustice happens and fearful when there is danger.
Fear is very strong emotion that can be found all around us. Fear can rule a person's life, influence a culture, drive a society, and be the catalyst for change and innovation. We teach each other to be fearful of our surroundings, of other people, of new situations and new places. However, fear can be the very emotion that saves us or someone else from danger.
Amongst the graphic images, there are plenty of stories of acts of heroism where fear is turned into a powerful force that is used to save and preserve life. Not all stories are of heroism, but some are simple acts of kindness, generosity and love.
How many times have you, as an individual, received acts of kindness? For me, I experience these acts on a daily basis. A recent incident has left a great impression upon me. I was travelling to another city with a total of two bags, a carrier and my laptop. Coming from a warm climate to a snow driven city, I was completely underdressed and freezing as I was waiting for the airport shuttle to go downtown. A total stranger was standing next to me, we struck up a conversation and ended up sharing a cab downtown. When we exited the cab, I loaded my bags onto my carrier and proceeded to walk away, assuming that he would be headed in his own direction. My bags toppled off the carrier, and to my surprise, he stepped over, picked them up, re-stacked them and offered to take me to the train station, which was only two blocks away. He walked me the whole distance and did not leave my side until I boarded the train. He simply smiled and waved as the trained pulled away.
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He did not ask anything of me. He had no expectations for me. He just did what he did because he was being kind.
His very actions brought back a deluge of memories of other people who have helped me in the past, and even more recently, today. I began to list events of where I experienced acts of kindness from people around me, and my list soon grew to include events of a local nature. Then, my list grew some more and encompassed national events and now, a international list is beginning to form.
When I look at the lists, I can see how kindness is a common thread throughout all our societies, weaving together different cultures and spanning the continents. Love, generosity and kindness is everywhere around us, and we, as humans, share our unique qualities of being human.