Our lives and how we act depend on the our beliefs. Our beliefs depend on personal experiences and the voices of authority we hear and obey.
This post inspired by this WordPress Daily Prompt: In Reason to Believe, Bruce Springsteen sings, “At the end of every hard-earned day people find some reason to believe.” What’s your reason to believe?
All the sages and all the researchers agree, the best reason to believe, the one that makes us healthiest is believing we make the world better by practicing kindness.
“My religion is kindness.” says the Dalai Lama, but he had to flee the Chinese and cannot go home again.
Jerome Kagan, Harvard researcher into such matters found that most cultures, no matter how small, believed in caring for the weak and being fair and just to all. As the cartoon notes a Zen belief; also a Jewish belief, a Christian belief, a Hindu belief, a Muslim belief, a Pagan belief and a secular belief.
So if the Dalai Lama, Kagan, all religions and most researchers agree this as the best of all beliefs, why is the world full of bullies eager to kill when necessary to get their way? Four factors overthrow kindness:
- For most people kindness stays in play only as long as their lives are not threatened AND they have both enough strength to fight and a belief they have a chance of winning.
- When fighting for survival, the meanest people tend to win, often because they believe they will win.
- Getting your way feels powerful and some learn early on when bolder and tougher than their friends to become addicted to the negative use of power.
- Finally, tribalism and caring for those who we see as like us trumps generalized caring and kindness. We draw circles around the people we think deserve kindness and feel free to treat outsiders anyway we want.
So what to do? I think Kent M. Keith said it best in his “The Paradoxical Commandments:”
- People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
- If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.
- If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
- The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
- Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.
- The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.
- People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
- What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
- People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.
- Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.”
All to say, I do my best to act kind. Do the same and for your sake as well as the world’s sake.
Thank you for all you do to Practice Kindness. Liking, commenting, or sharing any social media you find helpful is one way to be deliberately kind. It may seem like a little, however, doing a little matters a lot to the world and those in it.
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