in almost no time at all
the fruits of kindness will grow and grow and grow.
And they will be very sweet.
from If You Plant a Seed
written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, 2015
found on YouTube 11/16/2020
I don’t think I was an unkind child, but Mom’s voice still echoes. “You’ll catch more flies with honey than you will with vinegar,” I can still hear her say. It took a while for me to understand what she meant. I was young.
Kindness seems to be blooming, lately, though.
I wonder, am I really tuned in to the kindness of others more, or is it easier to spot since we are comparing its opposite every other minute on news reports and media posts? People do seem more aware of the need to be kind. Kind to ourselves, to others, to our pets, to our plants, to our planet. It’s not that hard, as these websites show.
Many of us just celebrated World Kindness Day. It is celebrated on November 13 every year. https://inspirekindness.com/world-kindness-day
National Kindness Week, also called RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) Week falls in February each year. https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/rak-week
Last month, The Cleveland City Club teamed up with several local libraries for a Five Days of Democracy Challenge. https://www.cityclub.org/about/five-days-for-democracy Although not directly about kindness, being informed and making good choices bodes well for us all.
I made a few decisions this past week.
- I’m leaving the vitriol of election season behind.
- I’m working on not being afraid of COVID-19.
- Gratitude is my new watchword.
Sometimes the world aligns. I was thinking of these ideas when I tuned in to a weekly radio broadcast, “On Being.” https://onbeing.org/programs/remembering-rabbi-lord-jonathan-sacks/ Krista Tippett interviews prominent thinkers in all walks of life. Last weekend she re-ran a conversation she had with Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, who sadly passed away last week.
“How can we be true to our own convictions while also showing love towards the stranger?” she asked Rabbi Sacks.
Of course he turned to the Bible as his authority. Rabbi Sacks believed one of the things we fear most is the stranger. For most of our history, people lived in homogenous groups. They talked the same, they looked the same, they thought the same.
As the world shrank and we started interacting with more and different people, we became fearful of strangers, called them the other.
To help us overcome that fear, we have instructions dating back three or four thousand years, Rabbi Sacks reminded us. “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and one directly from Moses, “Whatever is hurtful to you, do not do to any other person.” Science has proven that when we are able to see the welfare of the other as somehow linked to our own, we’re able to rise to high moral ideals.
And doing good to and for others, having a network of strong and supportive relationships, and feeling a sense that our lives are worthwhile are the three greatest determinants of happiness.
Since Crick, Watson, and Franklin showed the world that everything alive or once alive is made of DNA, we can look at biodiversity through a different lens. We humans are more alike than we are different. Color (hair, skin, and eyes), political ideologies, religious doctrines we hold sacred and dear aside, we all need to give and receive love, we need to feel our lives have a purpose, we need to feel validated.
Everyone’s role model, Fred Rogers, said it best when he asked each one of us to be his neighbor. His neighborhood really was the whole world.
-—stay curious! (and neighborly)