The Kindness Project

Photography by Sheila Butler

Envision a world in which everyone was kind and followed the rules. Would we live in Utopia? Because we are ‘of the Earth’ and given to human foibles (arguably the most prominent of which is ego), it is unlikely that we can create a perfect macrocosm where everyone accepts one another unconditionally—but we would come close.

We can strive to become microcosms unto ourselves where we give and receive while being mindful of the importance of diverse opinions and perspectives that make the world a more loving collective.  

We filter the world through our five senses. But beneath the surface, outside the realm of our known universe, there are other ways to apprehend our environment that conduce to a more rational, livable society. One such ‘sense’ is a sense impression, which we receive and transmit almost instantaneously. In everyday interactions, each of us gets overt and subtle indications and signals of others by making and perceiving a unique imprint through words, actions, or other representations. The exchange of impressions often causes immediate reactions, some positive, some negative.

Problems arise when divergent ideologies clash, and in the worst-case scenarios, social and ideological strife surge over so-called ‘differences’ that threaten the stability of individuals and nations. Such spontaneous implosion from within our human family is unnecessary, dangerous, and destructive.

When we attempt a resolution through less-than-amicable means, we invariably experience an infinite regress of ideological entanglement in which we forever strive to be ‘right.’

There needs to be a paradigm shift in which being ‘right’ morphs into being kind. Seeking to ‘win’ points is not a catalyst for everyone’s peace in civilized societies. Instead, striving to be fair, understanding, and embracing of others, irrespective of contrasting—and often delicate—viewpoints, elevates us to the zenith of our humanity where contentiousness has no place.

Being kind does not mean giving in or giving up. The type of surrender that kindness occasions is not self-defeating but edifying. Such an approach expands our worldview and solidifies the principles that we espouse for ourselves and respect for those who differ. In such a way, everyone maintains equilibrium.  

Furthermore, a conciliatory approach does not negate competition and healthy debate. Rather, self-assured kindness speaks to issues without anger, accords deference to the right of measured, thoughtful expression without taking a megalomaniacal stance. 

 Kindness rejoices in others’ success and is humble in the wake of failure (a stepping stone to personal growth and knowledge).

Kindness is empowerment in a whisper—a modest affirmation of the self and others—not submissiveness.

And kindness in the face of adversity or conflicting opinions does not indicate disingenuousness or duplicity but a willingness to open our arms to other possibilities. Kindness, instead of divisiveness, can be our imprint and can change the world—and ourselves. 

Trees don’t survive storms without bending, and in doing so, their roots immeasurably strengthen. 

© Gabriella Gafni, 2020. All rights reserved.

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