Why Does the World Need Kindness?
I was sitting in the yard with Maddy one afternoon when she stood in front of me, poised as can be, and asked, “Why does the world need kindness?” I was struck by this, feeling proud that my little five-year-old is asking such a profound question and a bit blindsided because I didn’t already have the answer in my back pocket. Five-year-olds can do this to you. They ask questions (a lot of them), some of which are about things you’ve taken for granted for so long that you don’t know how to answer them. I told her that we need kindness so people and the Earth wouldn’t hurt as much. She merely said “oh” and went back to playing.
But I wanted to tell her more. I wanted to tell her how many people suffer at the hands of those who are unkind. I wanted to tell her about wars and crime and poverty and prejudice and how much I wish for things to get better by the time she grows up. I wanted to tell her how the Earth, herself is suffering because we’ve failed to see her for what she is — a living, breathing being. Above all, I wanted to tell her how proud I was of her for asking this question and how I know in my heart that she will grow up to be a warrior of kindness. But I knew her little mind (and attention span) isn’t quite ready to hear all of these things. So I’m writing the following letter in hopes that she will read it one day.
My Curious Sweet Maddy,
The world we live in today is full of beauty. It’s full of joy and grace and wonderful souls who are doing amazing things. It’s full of life and magic and hope. It’s full of love. It’s a magnificent world and we all get to call it home. I always want you to remember this first part, no matter how dark your days may be — please always look for the light because when you find even the smallest flicker, darkness won’t stand a chance.
But the truth, my dear, is that there exists another side of humanity, a side that’s full of suffering, and hurt, and sadness. There’s poverty, there’s corruption, there’s greed. There are diseases that are threatening the lives of people and animals, as well as our beloved Mother Earth. There’s a lot of fear that keeps us separated, fear that turns into violence, and fear that traps people from rising above the status quo. This is the brutal reality that your mother has always found so hard to accept. And while we should accept what is, I know we can do better.
You’ve asked, “Why does the world need kindness?” Because kindness is a choice made out of pure love and nothing else. It’s the intention to always stay in the light when the world around you can make it hard to see past the darkness. It’s choosing the path less taken. It’s bravery at its finest. It’s choosing love over fear.
Kindness is lending a helping hand when it’s not always convenient. It’s giving instead of taking and never taking more than you need. It’s choosing to take the high road when you’re angry and every cell in your body craves the pleasure of retaliation. It’s seeking justice and standing up for what’s right. It’s putting yourself in other people’s shoes and only treating them with compassion and understanding. It’s honoring the Earth and all of her majestic inhabitants. Kindness is all of these things and so much more.
Kindness is also watching a night sky in wonder. It’s saying no when you don’t want to say yes. It’s reading a book, painting, being in nature, or cooking your favorite meal. It’s honoring yourself first and foremost because kindness to others isn’t quite possible until your heart is full.
And you know what the magical thing about kindness is? It has wings. You can’t see it but it flies in the air, spreading, multiplying, touching more and more people along the way. Just one single act of kindness can turn into many, far more than you can count. Kindness in your own backyard can touch the lives of people all the way on the other side of the world — people who you’ll never meet but will feel the energy of your love. How wonderful is that?
Now imagine if one day, everyone were kind. There would be no violence, no crime, no abuse, no suffering. There would be no poverty, no greed, no corruption. There would be no one hurting the Earth and her beautiful trees, plants, and creatures. And while this day may not come for a long, long time (or ever), we can HOPE. And we can do the smallest of kind things, one at a time, until the world is just a bit brighter. And when you have children of your own, they will know a brighter, kinder world than the one I knew. And their children’s world will be even brighter…and so on.
This, my dear, is why the world needs kindness. And you want to know a little secret? The world does have more kindness now that you’re here.