World Kindness Day: Practicing Kindness Whenever Possible
World Kindness Day, November 13, is an international holiday first introduced in 1998 by the World Kindness Movement. “The holiday is devoted to promoting kindness throughout the world and understanding the positive potential of large and small acts of kindness,” declares one article on the celebration. This is not some namby-pamby “be nice” movement, but one that links acts of kindness – random or deliberately chosen – to creating more justice in the world for all peoples. Some people have also seen the applicability of this holiday to being kind to the Earth.
The theme of this year’s World Kindness Day is chosen from a quote from the Dalai Lama, who, of course, believes that practicing kindness is always an option: “Be Kind Whenever Possible.” Kindness is an act, but it comes from an attitude, a disposition, and a commitment. By noticing where we can act with kindness, we notice the conditions of people’s lives. And we ourselves are not exempt from this scrutiny. Kindness starts at home. Self-care – kindness to the self – allows us to show up for others. When we undertake acts of kindness to individuals, ourselves included, we perceive the systemic conditions that need to be changed to improve people’s lives. An orientation to kindness inevitably leads to advocacy and action in favor of social justice.
Here are quotes from activists who famously planted seeds of change and/or were the change, as shared by the Goodgoodgood:
“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”
— Angela Davis
“Freedom and justice cannot be parceled out in pieces to suit political convenience. I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others.”
— Coretta Scott King
“We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation.”
— Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
“I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights.”
— Archbishop Desmond Tutu
“When we identify where our privilege intersects with somebody else's oppression, we'll find our opportunities to make real change.”
— Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
“We have a right to protest for what is right. That’s all we can do. There are people hurting, there are people suffering, so we have an obligation, a mandate, to do something.”
— John Lewis
“When you get these jobs you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.”
— Toni Morrison
“Don't sit around and wait for the perfect opportunity to come along — find something and make it an opportunity.”
— Cecile Richards, Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”
— Elie Wiesel
I hope that World Kindness Day will intrigue and inspire you to participate in it today and every day.