Let me admit something right up front: the world seems pretty hopeless at the moment, mired in scandal and violence, prejudice and despair. I fear for the future of my children; I fear that I’m not the best example for them as they grow into adulthood. Things seem to be changing, not in a good way, and I don’t know how to fight back. Voting and protesting and petitions are fine, but we’ve still got to live the day after the ballots are counted and the marchers have gone home.
So each day needs a modelling of the society in which we want to live. We don’t have to be selfish, we don’t have to be apathetic. We can be compassionate. We can be decent. We can be kind.
That sounds like a kid’s lesson that can get forgotten during a few semesters at the sophisticated University of Life. But that’s nonsense; simple kindness is a lesson to relearn.
Because there are plenty of people who’ll tell you not to worry about being kind; they’ll tell you to look after number one, to grab what you can, and whatever you do, don’t encourage those people. Plenty of people will tell you that, but don’t listen. Push back. There are others out there who need us to assert their humanity, our humanity. And when others tell us not to do that, we still need to be kind, even in the face of criticism and propaganda and lies. Sometimes mere kindness is an act of resistance.
That’s because an act of kindness is an act of truth, an event in time that has more weight than hypocritical words morphing into alt-facts. “Ahmed from next door picked up my shopping yesterday” is something concrete, something tangible, a marker of memory, something we can hold onto; “That person was kind to me, and accepted no reward” can be a truth to cling to when the voices yelling for our attention get too loud.
Kindness is also an act of love, not the love of a boy band’s ballad but a thing of stubbornness and persistence, a moment of revolution in a dark place. To show love to someone is to respect them, value them, show them honour and respect to them. And we can talk about this all we want, but really those words are lived out in the small stuff, moments of kindness and love that transform a bad day, if only briefly.
And that transformation becomes an act of hope, a statement that the world hasn’t completely succumbed to despair, that we’receive not on our own, that yes, some of us are in this together, proving it not with a poster but with lived-out compassion and a thousand acts of kindness that rebuild the world every day.
So let’s just keep building.