Kindness doesn’t cost a thing…..I heard those words expressed from a women for whom life has not been all that kind. Over the years I have heard that message articulated many times, in many ways, from many people. Yet, this time I experienced it differently…..I met her briefly, during a visit to New England, and we ended up chatting for a while…the conversation veered towards anecdotes concerning the state of human affairs and her response to life's injustice was to "meet it with kindness, it doesn't cost a thing"…I knew next to nothing about her…though she had shared a little about her life….it was a hard life… you know how you can just look at someone and see their story in their face? Well, her face told a story of a life of struggle….not just the normal day-to-day struggles, rather the struggles that come from great loss and heartache, not always having enough, needing to fight just to be seen….struggles that can eat away at the soul…..it wasn’t the words themselves that got me, as I’ve said I have heard those same words, often spoken by honored sages and mentors, it was her deep commitment to live those words..…and I could feel that….just being in her presence I could feel her genuine warmth of spirit….
I most likely will never see this women again….yet her words and her presence will remain with me….I truly believe that her ability to survive is rooted in her ability to continue to meet others with kindness and compassion…as I have reflected on that brief encounter it has compelled me to look at my own behavior…how I meet the world and those in it…do I exemplify the power of kindness and compassion in the face of hardship, discomfort and perceived injustice? The honest answer is no, and I can often justify my behavior with reasons why this person or that situation didn’t deserve it. It’s easy to be kind and compassionate when things are going well…when we like the person we are extending acts of goodwill….I can’t honestly say that whenever I have made the choice to respond with compassion to some perceived slight or injustice, that it has never cost me anything…. However, I can tell what it has cost me when I have made the decision to instead respond with self-righteous indignation….it has cost me peace of mind, self-respect and the respect of others, and has damaged some relationships, both personal and professional. So I leave you with this…..
“Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some sort of battle….” J.M Berry
With Peace & Love,