I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness recently. Strange that a trait that is valued so highly is so often under-rated or ignored.
We never want to be defined as ‘kind’. Talented, wild, charismatic, funny, sexy, passionate – all those words that come up on endless Buzzfeed and Facebook ‘Which Game of Thrones/Disney/insertanythinghere personality are you?’ quizzes are what we want to hear about ourselves. Imagine if you procrastinated for ten minutes over (another) one of those life-sucks and it just came back simply as ‘You are kind.’ We’d all slump in our chairs, let the self-loathing take over and wish we were more exciting, talented, wild etc blah, blah.
But kindness, oh it is the best of things. We should all strive to be kinder. Imagine if we lived in a world where we were all kind to each other? If we understood that we each believe different things – whatever it takes to get us through this mad, short ride of life? If every time we watched someone fuck up we just thought, ‘Oh man, they’re going to hate themselves for that later,’ and then let them know it was just a brief moment in time and no one’s going to judge them for it forever, and we’ve ALL been there.
At Loncon, a friend told me how he’d given away two expensive theatre tickets to strangers queueing for returns. When they asked if they could give him any money for them, he said ‘No, just do something nice for a stranger tomorrow.’ It actually made me a bit weepy. (Note: I’m a woman in her forties – lots of things make me weepy) It shouldn’t have made me feel that way – it shouldn’t have seemed such a delicate, beautiful thing. The world should be filled with people doing things like that for each other. One act of kindness. Once a day. It shouldn’t be so hard.
Maybe we are all just too exposed to each other these days. There’s too many of us on this tiny piece of rock hurtling through space and we insist on being connected all the time. There’s no time to reflect or think before we attack each other, or ignore each other, or laugh at something stupid someone else has done, or point out their faults. I sure as shit don’t see a lot of kindness on the news, or on Twitter – not often enough anyway. Perhaps it’s in our base nature as a race to be aggressive and selfish. Perhaps those traits are stronger and in these difficult times they rise more quickly to the surface than the things that make the best of being human. Who knows? Yes, we still love, but love is generally a selfish emotion. It so often requires being loved in return. Kindness – well, that is the purest of traits. Ethereal. Lovely rather than love.
I had a lot of laughs this weekend at Loncon. So much fun with friends new and old. So much laughter. But the things that stuck with me the most were that conversation about the theatre tickets, and another drunken one where an editor and I (both drinking wine out of Martini glasses – we should have been listening to Jazz), talked about happiness and he said some kind things about me that made me feel so much better about myself.
I’m going to aspire to be kinder. I’m going to lay off digging at people who have religion just because I don’t. (Note: Westboro Baptist Church doesn’t count). I’m going to take time out from my ME ME ME existence to look at friends’ faces closely to see if they’re happy or unhappy. I’m going to aim for one kind thing a day as I battle my aggressive and selfish nature.
Because kind people? They rock. They really do. And we can all be kind people. We can all ROCK.
“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” Dalai Lama