In light of the recent shootings and various acts of violence going on in our country and around the world, there’s been a lot of posts on social media about how we need to love each other and stop tolerating hate, etc. This is of course great and I completely agree.

But here’s something I saw shared recently:

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Now while it’s clear the intention here is to be another one of those lovey-dovey “I’m helpful” and “I’m a decent member of society” posts, the reality of this message is no better than the violence it’s presumably against.

When kindness is conditional

The caveat “if you’re nice to me” is really quite dangerous. What happens when someone isn’t nice to you? How will you react? Will you act out in violence? Or maybe withhold kindness and call it fair? Because if so, your heart is in the same place as those whom I refuse to name.

We need to love people. That’s it. Love people. Which people? All people.

But what if they’re not nice to me? ALL people.

Even the people who are jerks. They’re the ones who are most vulnerable and most in need of love. And your acts of kindness towards them will likely make a bigger impact on them than on the nice people who share your religious and political views.

Whether you want to take a page out of Jesus’ book or Buddha’s, there’s a lot to learn about unconditional kindness that I for one would love to see implemented in our society on a much larger scale than it is now.

Us vs. them

therearenoothers

When we see people as separate from ourselves — whether they are different because they are “black, which, straight, bisexual, gay, lesbian, rich, or poor” or any plethora of other differences we can have —we feel less inclined to help them. They aren’t family; they aren’t friends. They “don’t even go here“. So when they’re in trouble, why should we come to their rescue? In fact why should we even be that friendly towards them unless they are friendly to us first?

firsttheycame

A better alternative

How would the world be if everyone took a proactive approach to kindness? If we all reached out with love for one another, regardless of the response we might get, or not get. What if we gave kindness without conditions or expectations?

Imagine that’s how you lived your life every day. How would you then feel if someone suggested to you that you be nice to someone if they were nice to you?

That would require you to now decrease your kindness. You’d go from being kind to everybody, to now only those who are kind to you. This idea would likely sound odd to you, and feel very unnatural.

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If being kind to everyone without conditions or expectations is our natural state, then we will indeed grow to find anything else unnatural and uncomfortable. The person I aspire to be creates positive change by being a light in a world of darkness. I aspire to give kindness to those who need it most, to those who need it least, and to everyone in between. And I hope the kindness they receive will inspire them to pass it on to the next person. But if not, I will accept that. I can’t control how people react or what they do with my kindness. I can only control myself.

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Who do you aspire to be?

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4 thoughts on “Conditional kindness isn’t good enough

  1. I absolutely agree (and it’s nice to see you blogging again 🙂 ). I’m all about spreading kindness around. I was thinking about it the other day though and I think I would find it hard to extend kindness to anyone who is racist / homophobic / fundamentalist Christian etc. though. I wish them no harm mind you, so there is that

    1. Omg so good to hear from you! When I came back to WordPress I looked around for the handful of blogs I used to follow and I looked for yours but it was gone! I’ll have to check out your new one ;).

      As for extending kindness to people who are racist etc, I certainly don’t mean to suggest that we show support for their behavior, or that we are disingenuous with our kindness, or do anything else that feels false or uncomfortable. But one thing that always helps me to find compassion for people is to remember that they are doing the best they can with the information they have. People who are racist etc are merely going off of the things they’ve been taught. To look at it from that perspective, just imagine the kinds of hate they have been exposed to, whether directly or indirectly. That makes me want to be kind to them all the more, to show them that love is such a better way of life! ❤

      1. I know, someone IRL found it so I set it to private and then blogged in French… And I agree, it often comes from a place of misunderstanding and fear. I heard a radio show not so long ago with a born again pastor who turned around in support of gay marriage. He was saying the gay community welcomed him with opened arms but there was nothing like the hate of a scorned fundamentalist christian. Really interesting 🙂

      2. Oh, people finding your online stuff is so awkward! I’ve had that happen a few times with things! And yeah, that is interesting, and sad, because hate is not what Jesus was about! “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” -Gandhi. That quote has always been so powerful to me!

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