Practicing Radical Kindness

The world needs your kindness...

And it needs mine as well...

It needs ALL of our kind acts, if we are to survive as a nation and as a planet...

I have been reflecting on this a lot of late, wanting so desperately to withdraw further from the world, and I've already done a good job of that. Yet, I cannot ignore so much of what I read that brings to mind the urgency of needing to change our directions - as peoples, as nations, as religious traditions, as leaders, and as the trampled and abused earth that we live on. 

I am forced to weigh the impact of my actions, of my thoughts, of my words...

The Dalai Lama has often written that kindness is his religion. He has taught that we do not need complicated philosophies or religions to abide by - we just simply need more kindness. We just need to exercise more kindness overall...

The story of the Good Samaritan especially comes to mind here. A man of a different tradition and nation - chooses to make a difference - he exercises kindness and mercy with an enemy, helping him in distress, when his own countrymen passed him by and ignored him. The Samaritan is kind. He is merciful. One cannot have kindness without mercy - or mercy without kindness...

Last night, I read these words by Anne Lamott, in her new book, "Hallellujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy:"

"Mercy is radical kindness Mercy means offering or being offered aid in desperate straits. Mercy is not deserved. It involves absolving the unabsolvable, forgiving the unforgivable. Mercy brings us to the miracle of apology, given and accepted, to unashamed humility when we have erred or forgotten...

Mercy, grace, forgiveness, and compassion are synonymous, and the approaches we might consider taking when facing a great mess, especially the great big mess of ourselves - our arrogance, greed, poverty, disease, prejudice. It includes everything that just makes us sick and makes us want to turn away, the idea of accepting life as it presents itself and choosing goodness anyway, the belief that love and caring are marbled even into the worst life has to offer..."

If I read nothing else in this book, I know that I was meant to read this passage...

In a world which frequently overwhelms me with hatred, discord, anger - and makes me want to retreat more and more deeply within myself, within nature - I am not only reminded - I am commanded to make a difference - to make of my life - to make of my every action and word - every thought and offering and prayer - an oblation - and a act of radical kindness. 

This act of radical kindness is nothing less than an act of radical compassion. It is an act of radical mercy. It is our very raison d'être - it is what all great religious traditions and philosophical traditions teach in their essence - if only we were to truly adhere to its tenets. As Gandhi once observed, the problem with Christianity is simply that it has never been truly lived. Not by a majority anyway.

I try to rouse myself this morning, out of the heaviness and weight of all that I find wrong with the world, and choose to focus instead on how I might best live out this radical kindness.

As many saints and sages have taught throughout the ages - "We cannot always do great things. (Indeed, most of us never will do so.) But we can always do small things, with great love."

Go out there today, and make a difference. Give what only you can give. The gifts that only you have.The world needs your radical kindness.





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