Okay… yes… that headline seemed like it would grab you more than the original title, Saving The World With Kindness.
That in itself is a sad statement… and a testament to how our media behaves. Go big and blustery and negative and people will follow. Go loving and kind and soft, and… Crickets… Silence… Nada…
Why do we want to read stories about train wrecks more than train rescues? When did bad news trump good news?
Wouldn’t it be nice to seek out the positive instead of the negative?
How many times does “gossip” include the good things someone does… the encouraging things… instead of the errors and mistakes?
But you know what? It’s true. There is genuine merit in that statement, too. Stop being a jerk! Stop honking and cursing at the bad driver next to you. Stop waking up on the wrong side of the bed and starting your day with anger. Stop blaming the world for your woes.
Own it… Take responsibility… Take control back. The world is what we make it.
The High Holy Days are a period of introspection… an opportunity to look into ourselves and decide how we can RETURN to who we were… to the path we set out on… TESHUVAH! This is something that Ben and I have both written about. It is a remarkable and powerful notion.
How we can move back into kindness and Chesed… gratitude and generosity. In the book Loving Kindness: Daily Lessons In The Power Of Giving by Chofetz Chaim, something I will dare say is and should be imperative daily reading… we learn the unbelievable power that kindness offers us.
Days 12 and 13 especially stood out for me. In Day 12 he talks about the account of merit established for the Jewish people by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But “that account has been called upon by generation upon generation, so that now, the balance hovers at a dangerously low point.”
Sounds dire… and yet, we have a golden opportunity in front of us… a chance to correct this each and every day… all with something that should be easy… should be second or even first nature…
The lesson concludes with this hopeful notion: “Each Jew has the opportunity to replenish this merit for present and future generations whenever he performs a simple act of kindness.” We have all heard of the notion of Random Acts Of Kindness… just doing something because…
But let us eliminate the word random… and instead replace it with CHOOSE… or CHOOSE TO DO… For this will allow and encourage us to take control and do something kind and unselfish each and every day. The irony, of course, is that when we do this, we also reap the benefits… We just FEEL BETTER… and THAT is the very definition of a Win-Win!
The book goes further in explaining that we must do these things with full heart and soul… we must find joy in them. To do a good deed because one HAS to, loses something. To do a good deed because ONE WANTS TO… Powerful!
In Day 13 he writes that “Only Hashem can make miracles, but the Jewish people – by keeping Hashem’s Presence before them – can elicit miracles.”
Think of it this way… An act of Chesed a day, keeps the doctor away.
Or let’s go big picture…
You and I cannot create miracles. Only G-d can do that. But we have the opportunity… daily… to “create” an environment where miracles can happen. This idea is similar to life… to relationships… to everything…
We CANNOT make another person happy… that is up to them. But we can ABSOLUTELY create a scenario… an atmosphere… an opportunity for them to BE HAPPY.
And we all have that same choice… We CAN CHOOSE HAPPINESS AND KINDNESS.
As we move out of our homes and into our Sukkahs… as we are commanded to invite guests and strangers to break bread… as we realize how fleeting material things are… how quickly life can pass us by… let us take control over things that we actually have control over… KINDNESS.
Let us all CHOOSE TO BE KIND!