I drove back home yesterday night and the stray dogs which welcomed me regularly on my colony had grouped up and I was a little irritated and also curios to see so many of them together. As I went closer I saw them being fed by a man. A single man feeding about ten dogs. I know it seems like an ordinary feat, a man feeding dogs, we practically see it every other day, I still wonder why it kept ringing on my mind.
WHY DO PEOPLE HAVE TO BE KIND?
And then the ranting the brain started – Why do people have to be kind? I mean what do they gain from it? Are they doing it cos they want to prove that they are good, or they want a good PR and marketing presence or is it that they find themselves more connected to the world when they do it? The selfishness school of thought said, people are kind cos they want others to be kind to them, fair enough right? The selfless school of thought said people are kind cos they are kindred souls who look for the happiness of others. Another school of thought said that it was just an act and there was nothing much to read into it.
CAN THIS BE THE REASON WHY?
And then something else said, people are kind cos they know the value of what they have and they know what it means to not have it! Now that started making a little sense. If we look at ourselves, the way we are born, brought up, the opportunities that we are presented with have had a lot to do with what we are today. If one of them was amiss, maybe we would have landed an alternate lifestyle, maybe limited opportunities, difficulties that we cannot fathom, challenges we succumb to and so much more. So, was kindness a way of thanking the opportunities we are presented with?
It reminds me of the words of Melinda Gates Speech at Stanford University –
“When were you born? Who were your parents? Where did you grow up? None of us earned these things. They were given to us.
When we strip away our luck and privilege and consider where we’d be without them, it becomes easier to see someone who’s poor and sick and say “that could be me.” This is empathy; it tears down barriers and opens up new frontiers for optimism.”
NOW!! THIS MAKES MORE SENSE!
Now this started making sense, kindness was a realization as to what it can be being in someone else’s shoes! It means trying to understand who they are and what they are going through and maybe if possible be of help. Not everyone might need money, some may need food and some may need a tuition fee or some just need an opportunity to work. I understand that we are all busy with our lives and we have also seen a lot of people pretend the need just to fleece the kindness from a ‘nice’ person. I also realize that it is hard to believe in humanity when there are so many people who take advantage of it!
BUT THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE WHO MISUSE KINDNESS
But that hardly can be an explanation for us to stop! We cannot succumb to a belief system enforced on us by the society or a few selfish people. I would honestly refuse to accept a rationalization that we stop being something cos the society forces us to. The society sometimes forces us to vandalize but even that cannot be a reasonable explanation for that! We can always raise ourselves above that and be a little more ourselves and a little less others!
I do agree that kindness has taken different shapes these days, it may mean charity, it may mean doling out loads of money or the PR activities or even the philanthropies that are done and some even to the extent of Nobel Peace prize. Some seem to have a baggage attached to it and some seem to be a little freer. But taking the thought a little deeper, don’t you think kindness means your ability to relate to the people around you, smile at them often, try to help them out – may not mean doing their work for them but may mean something as simple as helping them pick up their bags or asking them how their day was or even sharing a joke with them.
IS THIS WORD REALLY OVERRATED?
Sometimes I believe a few words are highly overrated including kindness too, but to me I guess kindness can be as simple as this, it is your LIFE, it is your way and it is just a way of expanding yourself and feeling thankful for everything you have been blessed with. Can kindness mean this? Or does it have to be a fancy elaborate wording?
I would like to leave you with a thought from the movie – The Great Dictator , Charlie Chaplin.
“We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in: machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little: more than machinery we need humanity; more than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness.”
So… Is kindness overrated?