I believe that kindness is the key to happiness. If everyone in this world would be more kind to each other, they would be more content. People would be happier not only because they were treated kindly, but also because they were kind. Our world is lacking kindness, when being kind towards others is being kind to oneself.
As a child, I was taught to ignore strangers around me. These attitudes bleed into my adulthood. I was taught to cry ‘fire’ instead of ‘help’ because a cry of help will not be answered. Cries of help are being ignored so that everyone can go home and forget about the problems of the world. I grew up being rude, telling jokes, and picking on my siblings for fun. This became acceptable behavior for me and now, as an adult, I find that it hurts my character and creates negative attitudes towards me. I have changed gradually as I have seen what my actions do to those around me. I realized how the things I said and did hurt and demeaned others.
I have learned that kindness towards another human beings is not putting me out; it is helping me. I need to have compassion for others or I end up dehumanizing them to decrease my guilt. The movies I watch, the songs I listen to, and the games I play are all desensitizing me to the reality of pain, sickness, and destruction. Which makes me ask, when our senses are being filled with violence, how can we keep our compassion?
Compassion for the rest of the human race will keep us sane. We must remind ourselves that kindness is not to help others; it is to keep ourselves intact. My husband is part Indonesian; I am part Syrian. During 9/11, my husband received nasty looks while I, being of middle-eastern decent, did not receive any because very few Americans could discern my background. I understand these fears they had of any person that did not look like them, but this is just one more example of the need for kindness and compassion in our country. Even though my husband was a fellow American, grieving from these attacks, he was not shown kindness when people of a different nationality planned those attacks.
My husband has taught me many of the lessons I now use to live my life. He has reinforced my belief that kindness will make this world a better place. I now choose my actions and words carefully to make sure that the message I send is good. I have learned that kindness is a necessity in life. I need to be kind towards those in my life and those I just happen to run into.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.