The word religion comes from the Latin religio, which means “to bind.” This suggests that if our religion is, indeed, kindness, then we are bound and connected to one another through loving, caring hearts.
How wonderfully high-vibratory is this?
Wouldn’t this “religion” end wars, unify and not polarize, and decrease suffering? Just think of bullying … it is commonly focused on someone who is in some way different and, therefore, a target for abuse and shame. Kindness would help take care of that. Kindness flows from a generous, accepting heart. Isn’t this what we need to be teaching and modelling for our children?
Happily, luckily and yes, wonderfully, kindness is contagious. Frequently, acts of kindness beget more acts of kindness. Think of someone picking up the tab for your coffee and you are inclined to do something similar for another. Kindness creates a shift in energy and movement towards compassion and open-heartedness. We feel good; the other person feels good. Kindness is a positive psychology unto itself.
According to one medieval mystic, if you choose consistent kindness you get a shot at sainthood: “Do you want to be a saint? Be kind, be kind, be kind.”
In today’s world of extreme judgment, criticality, divisiveness, and belittlement, kindness can be challenging. Nonetheless, kindness is an essential component of personal and planetary well-being.
I leave you with one of my favorite poems,” Kindness,” by the wondrous poet Naomi Shihab Nye, who evocatively speaks of the depths of kindness.
By Naomi Shihab Nye
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.