“Kindness begins with the understanding that we all struggle.” -Charles Glassman
So much of the human condition revolves around struggle. We have thousands of history books, each teeming with stories of strife. Famine, drought, war, hate, violence. We look back at previous experiences and try to learn from them, but as we all know, history tends to repeat itself.
We all have our own histories, too. There are seasons of strengths and weaknesses, some days sunny and others, like our tearful eyes, quite stormy. Some of us may see therapists while others use meditation, journaling, and friends to cope with the feelings we all have.
We know our own histories better than anyone else in the world, and sometimes we have a difficult time expressing it to others. Vulnerability and emotions can get in the way of letting others know how our struggles affect us. We get so wrapped up in our own problems that we tend to forget about others’.
Sometimes, we want others to forget about our problems so that the issues might just slip away, but it does not make it any less easy to manage.
No matter how you deal with struggle, every person can relate in some way to their own obstacles. It is something we feel in our cores, through the complications of life, and as a species, we challenge struggle head on almost every day.
What does this have to do with kindness?
If we can decide that struggle is a fairly universal human trait, then we should understand how important it is to empathize and show support to those around us, even if it is just in small, simple ways.
Like smiling. Like holding the door open for the person behind you. Like saying, “please”, and “thank you.” Like offering help. Like hugging often. Like acknowledging that there is more to someone than what they show you.
A huge part of anthropology is understanding that humans are all different. that we each have different cultural backgrounds and values, but that no matter how much we might disagree or find each other’s behaviors strange and unusual, all humans are unique and beautiful.
We are in a new position in our age of technology where we can see so much of the world around us just by pulling our phones out of our pockets, and with that, we have opportunities to make a difference in the world, even if it is only within your family or neighborhood.
We all struggle in some way or another, so it is vital to understand that we do not see all of it.
Each person we meet has a history we have not read, struggles about which we have never learned, and sometimes, the person will keep their book closed. But they seek your kindness. They ask for kindness in other aspects of their life, not just from those who know their past.
We must not judge others harshly, nor should we treat others with disrespect and hatred. We are all different, but we are also all human.
Please have empathy with those who struggle around you. Remember what it feels like to be misunderstood, how it feels to rise against challenges all by yourself.
The world is a much better place when kindness coats our words, drifts through the air, fills our lungs.
We can use struggle as a way to connect to one another, so why can’t we use kindness as a way to bridge the gaps and make each other’s lives more fulfilling?
There is so much more to kindness than a lot of people see, but it all begins with understanding.