Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Kindess can change the lives of people

Maybe there should be a Noble Prize for kindness. Winners of the Peace Prize seem to feel it's important.
Aung San Suu Kyi last week received the Nobel Prize for Peace, 21 years after it was awarded. In her speech, she said:
Of the sweets of adversity, and let me say that these are not numerous, I have found the sweetest, the most precious of all, is the lesson I learnt on the value of kindness. Every kindness I received, small or big, convinced me that there could never be enough of it in our world. To be kind is to respond with sensitivity and human warmth to the hopes and needs of others. Even the briefest touch of kindness can lighten a heavy heart. Kindness can change the lives of people.
The Dalai Lama, who won the prize in 1989, speaks often of the importance of kindness. He's often quoted as saying that kindness is his religion. (Or philosophy.) Here's another:
Love and kindness are the very basis of society. If we lose these feelings,society will face tremendous difficulties; the survival of humanity will be endangered.
 Photo by Jeremy  Russell/ OHHDL
The pair met privately on Wednesday in London. Both are touring England now, promoting their message of peace, care, and good works.
Kindness, though, is not a trait for only internationally recognized peace makers. It's a practice that's available to anyone, from birth through sickness, old age, and death. We rely on the kindness of strangers, even if we're loathe to admit it, and we make the world a better place, even if it's only the world of one person, when we practice kindness.
Everyone appreciates kindness, the Dalai Lama says.
Perhaps these two have a deeper appreciation than many of us because they have known such suffering. Aung San Suu Kyi was a political prison for 15 years; the Dalai Lama is a refugee from Tibet who cannot go back as well as the spiritual head of the Tibetan people, who suffer under Chinese rule.
As the poet Naomi Shahib Nye writes:
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.

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 every where
like a shadow or a friend.
May kindness go with you everywhere. May you extend kindness to yourself and to others. May your kindness be firm when it needs to be, fierce when it needs to be, and may kindness prevail.

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