Yesterday (November 13th) was World Kindness Day. The day was created in 1997 when a group of like-minded kindness organizations (no political or religious affiliations) convened at a conference in Japan. "The mission of the WKM is to inspire individuals towards greater kindness and to connect nations to create a kinder world. Members of the movement include over 25 nations with representatives from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, India, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Romania, Scotland, South Korea,Switzerland,Thailand, United Arab Emerites, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the USA."
I cannot think of a better time than now to practice kindness. But what does it look like? What does it truly mean? It seems as if it is one of those words that we think we know but do we really?
What is kindness? In looking up its meaning, many sites use as a definition, "the act of being kind."
So then, the next question is what is kind? According to dictionary.com: 1. of a good or benevolent nature or disposition, as a person 2. having, showing, or proceeding from benevolence: kind words3. indulgent, considerate, or helpful; humane (often followed by to): to be kind to animals. 4. mild; gentle; clement: kind weather 5. British Dialect. loving; affectionate
Eventually, I did find a definition for kindness: the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.
I like that, the idea of being considerate- to think of others and their needs. It is the Biblical mandate to love your neighbor as yourself. In my search for the definition of kindness I found that according to the Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, kindness is "an attribute of God and quality desirable but not consistently found in humans."
Perhaps that is why as humans, we find it so hard to be kind. In order to be so, we need some divine help. Perhaps that is why as humans, we are so touched when we experience kindness in our lives or when we are kind to another; we have connected, in some small ways to the divine. Either way I think it is time for us to call upon the divine and practice kindness.
The challenge is to practice kindness today. It doesn't take divine knowledge nor longitudinal studies to know that the seeds of kindness can spread far and wide. It just takes one action, one note, or one smile to sow that seed.
What can you try today? Sure there are lots of suggestions: write an encouraging note, smile at all the people you encounter, pay for coffee for the person behind you in line, speak graciously to those whom you disagree. Click here for suggestions at the Random Acts of Kindness organization.
More than that, with each person that you encounter today, can you see things from his/her point of view? Can you be considerate of what they are experiencing? Can you pray before each encounter that God will open your eyes to see that person as He sees him/her? To pray that you have the courage and imagination to be kind in a way that will be meaningful to him/her?
World Kindness Day may have come and gone but I would pray that we continue it each day. Lord knows that we need it.