If you see your brother standing by the road, with a heavy load and going the wrong way, you have to try little kindness, show little kindness, shinning your light wherever, if you want to see – – -etc”. I think it was Mary Mackay and the Genesis that sang these lines. Looking at the way things happen around us now, one is bound to ask, where has little kindness gone? By the tradition of the average black man we are supposed to be our brother’s keeper. The scriptures and our various faiths to which we subscribe and even our conscience enjoin us always to extend favours to those in need. Today it appears we are much more alienated from each other, treating one another with such unfriendliness, exhibiting more callousness and quite unwilling to lend a helping hand to the needy even when we lose nothing by doing so. What is more perplexing is the uncaring disposition we exhibit when we are approached by one in distress to offer a helping hand such as giving direction to someone in distress. Lobsang Rampa, a Tibetan mysticism writer, wrote in his, ‘You Forever’, “If you show goodness and kindness and compassion to those in need, then when your own turn comes to have misfortune, someone somewhere-will show you kindness and consideration and compassion.”
In our down ward march, one may not appreciate the depth we have degenerated until you have had an experience. Walking on the road and missing your way and stopping to ask questions will make you look stupid the manner some will ignore you and walk pass by as if they never heard you. Some who knows will deny. In spite of our religious postulations and posturing, kindness has become a stranger. The society is so destroyed that we have become suspicious of each other even in the most harmless of thing. Have you ever got your car stuck in the mud? You turn around and behold a group of teenage boys and you smile inwardly that after all you will not be stranded. Your smile will vanish the moment the boys show up and drag you to the negotiation table before they can do anything. What you would consider as an opportunity to render service would be promptly exploited for financial gains by the small boys who will spend the money on things that will bring more harm to their lives. You wonder where has little kindness gone to as every act of kindness is now quantified in monetary terms or quantified in some other values. The story appears same everywhere you go even (apologies to MTN) among the rich and the so called privileged class. They have their wealth overflowing and yet they care less to dispense the excess to their needy neighbours and relations. Instead they would lavish it on ostentatious lifestyle that does not benefit anyone but them. What is more painful is that most times these riches originate from dubious sources, may be our common wealth stolen from the treasury.
Someone once said that if you want to eradicate poverty share what you have. How faithful have we been or can be to this statement?
Virtually every faith enjoins us to love one another and extend help to those in need but our society still remains stocked with unkind and uncharitable behaviours. To what then do we owe this? A pastor in one of the Pentecostal churches blamed it on greed and our domineering disposition. Again, the more we imbibe western education and its culture the more we get sophisticated and alienate ourselves from each other because we do not want to carry any other extra burden or responsibility. Erroneously some of us believe that helping the other person means encouraging him to be lazy because he is likely to come back for help another time.
Life itself is a boomerang. The universe like a mirror reflects what you show to it. Ralph Waldo Emerson says, ‘it is one of the most important compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. Calvin Cooridge went on to add: ‘No man was ever honoured for what he received. Honour has been the reward for what he gave’. Kindness is a language both the blind and the deaf understand. It confers mutual benefit on both the doer and the beneficiary. There is an inward feeling of joy and satisfaction when you respond to a request that meets a need. In Mottos For Success, a line ran thus: ‘Forget about trying to figure what will bring you happiness. Try to make others happy then happiness will find you.’ The man whose heart is touched also feels deeply appreciative and expresses gratitude either verbally or otherwise. We should equally recognize that what we do for ourselves dies with us and what we do for others remains forever. Sit for a moment and contemplate how our world would look if we all begin to express acts of kindness whether or not it was required of us.
There are so many things clamouring for attention which requires an act of kindness. Poverty walks tall in the land, sick people abound all over, school drop outs with potentials roams the land, unemployment breeding social upheavals, yet there are others wasting the scarce resources others are looking for. We must not express acts of kindness only when it is required of us. The dying extended family system is one way we have reached out to our kits and kin. We must not allow it to vanish finally.
Today all over the country greed and unbridled materialism has overwhelmed the leaders and they indulge in looting that you would think they want to remain glued to mother earth forever. It is to them that Socrates once said that men build as if they are going to live forever and eat as if they are going to die today. The so called leaders have been provided opportunity of service as instruments of God but rather than demonstrate kindness with the resources entrusted in their care they turn themselves into tyrants feasting selfishly on the fortunes of the people.
Their acts of kindness is like rubbing oil on the mouth of the populace with their highly advertised and celebrated outward show of charity designed to show case them as kind hearted people. But the scripture has made it very explicit that God is never mocked. If all of us in this world are truly living the acts of kindness as were enjoined to do so by our various faiths and eschew selfishness the world would be a better place to living. Sadly what we forget is that whenever we refuse to show acts of kindness when we should there are also an equivalent reward for it.
Let it be cemented in our hearts what James Matthew Barrie, said that ‘those who bring sunshine to others cannot keep it from themselves. Another quote in the MFS corroborated it when it said that: ‘with every act of love (kindness) you do today you weave one more golden thread in the blanket that will warm you morrow’. From the tales of the elderly ones it appears in the time of old there was more love, affection, show of concern, understanding and a great sense of belonging and communality than as at present notwithstanding the preachments and numerous religions campaigns that abound in street corners, schools, households, churches, markets and indeed everywhere. Irrespective of the of the biting economic situation or however we find ourselves we should all strive and resolve to begin to express acts of kindness to one another and to the society at large. By doing so we would have given God the opportunity to work through us. Let every act of our kindness be made without dissimulation so that we are not like the hypocrites. The scriptures enjoined us that let not what our right hand do be noticed by the left hand. No matter how little your kindness may be it has the capacity of lightening up a depressed mind and give hope to the hopeless. It pays to be kind.
The times are indeed very challenging. The gulf between the haves and have not’s have continually widened and in my on thinking only the acts of kindness can attempt to close it. Many are in the race for survival because things have seriously fallen apart. This no doubt leads to self-seeking. But under whatever situation let’s be kind to those we meet on our ways for everybody on the pathway is fighting a harder battle. I repeat it pays to be kind.