As my flight was landing at RDU Airport a few weeks ago, I was moved by the pilot’s unexpected parting message to the passengers: “Be kind to one another.” Our world is so volatile and “me centered” these days that kindness seems to be an elusive action. I suspect the pilot’s words were appropriately suitable for the holiday season, but it struck me that kindness is best served as a practice among individuals all year.
I looked around the plane to see if anyone had been as affected by the message as I had been. Unfortunately, I saw no acknowledgement to his message. Instead, I overheard numerous cell phone conversations reiterating the same pick-up message. I heard listless babies crying from the pressure in their ears as disgruntled passengers rolled their eyes in disgust. And then there were the erstwhile business travelers who stood up with authority while the pilot spoke, and who rudely stepped over fellow passengers as if getting their carry-on first was a rite of passage to deplane. The reminder to be kind to one another had fallen on deaf ears.
I sat in my seat while we taxied, wondering how we had arrived at this behavior, and I believe it’s due to a variety of reasons. We are bombarded with news about cyberbullying, police brutality, random killings for a cause, and political incorrectness, desensitizing us to what it feels like to be kind to one another. Advances in technology have also made it seemingly justifiable to be unkind and purposely hurtful to one another due to online anonymity and lack of face-to-face conversations. Although we all learned the Golden Rule as children, these outside influences have contributed to the lost art of displaying kindness at home, at school, and at work.
Do you ever feel suspicious about random acts of kindness? Think of the last time a co-worker offered to do something for you without prompting. Did a little part of you wonder why this person was being so nice? What was the benefit to the co-worker? Perhaps the last thing to cross your mind was the kind act your co-worker did for you and how good that made you feel.
The pilot reminded me that kindness is a value that I, like many others, have left unattended for too long. I assumed that kindness was a behavior that I modeled, but now I’m not so sure. In 2016, I plan to be mindful of kindness to others, especially in my dealings with staff and clients. Kindness does not cost anything and it is generous to all parties involved. An act of kindness can begin with a simple word of support.
I challenge you to be mindful in 2016 of how kind you are in your interactions with other people. We all live on this one planet where we share the sun, the moon, and the stars. Being kind to one another is the greatest gift of all: the sharing of ourselves.