In a world where people like Caroline Flack can be hounded into an early grave by the unkindness of trolls and the press. The press were blamed for Diana’s death and unfortunately it is believed that trolls are contributing factors for thousands of internet based suicides. Bullying, prejudice, harassment, violence and unkindness is never, and can never, be acceptable. It takes so little effort to be kind.
According to Wikipedia kindness is a behaviour marked by:
‘Ethical characteristics, a pleasant disposition, and concern for others.
It is known as a virtue, and recognised as a value.
Google defines kindness as
‘The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate’.
How do you define it?
When I was a child I would read the book ‘The Water Babies’ by Charles Kingsley. In the story there was a wonderful character called ‘Mrs Do As You Would Be Done By’. She ensured that whatever the children’s behaviour it was reflected back to them. Later in my travels I discovered the laws of Karma and Dharma and the concept that ‘what goes around comes around’.
If the law of karma is real then we should all have a vested interest in treating other people well on the basis that we will also be treated in the same way. This can make acts of kindness and altruism begin to sound too calculated though, in terms of social stability, in any community or group of people, treating others fairly means that I will be treated fairly as well. This makes good sense.
In Ayurvedic psychology acting positively and serving the needs of others without expecting anything in return is termed ‘Bhakti’. People such as Ghandi, Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela, amongst many others, would fall into this category. People who have given of themselves without great reward or aggrandisement. You will probably know of people in your life or community who are like that and are Bhakti.
Kindness or treating other people fairly and well is enshrined in most religions and philosophies.
In the Ayurvedic and Hindu worlds acting in the right way is termed dharma. According to…
‘The word “dharma” has multiple meanings depending on the context in which it is used. These include: conduct, duty, right, justice, virtue, morality, religion, religious merit, good work according to a right or rule, etc. Many other meanings have been suggested, such as law or “torah” (in the Judaic sense), “logos” (Greek), “way” (Christian) and even ‘tao” (Chinese).’
Though there are no equivalent word for the concept/word dharma in the Western lexicon.
‘Dharma has the Sanskrit root dhri, which means “that which upholds” or “that without which nothing can stand” or “that which maintains the stability and harmony of the universe.” Dharma encompasses the natural, innate behaviour of things, duty, law, ethics, virtue, etc. Every entity in the cosmos has its particular dharma — from the electron, which has the dharma to move in a certain manner, to the clouds, galaxies, plants, insects, and of course, man. Man’s understanding of the dharma of inanimate things is what we now call physics.’
For me psychological or spiritual dharma is to act in the right way in every situation all the time. An ideal to aim for, though hard to achieve. This is what we in ‘live in the present’ term mindfulness. To be mindful in the moment, to be aware of yourself and the other people around you means that you can do nothing but act in the right way which is to act with kindness. Being mindful, being positive, being kind and being happy are all facets of the same attitude of mind and way of being.
Kindness is in the same spectrum as love. It is part of the positive forces that brings people together, solves problems and creates happiness.
It was a joy to read on twitter about the person who offered to buy a stranger a copy of reasons to stay alive by Matt Haig, because it had helped her when she needed it and she anted to help someone else who might need it. Well this then led to a bookshop – Big Green bookshop who picked up on this and soon hundreds of people who had read the book were offering to pay for other people to have it too. As I type this 1000’s have people have gifted books to total strangers and other bookshops have become involved. Kindness and love right there, amazing.
However you would express your acts of kindness, it would be good if we could all spend one day each week being consciously kind.