It’s a feel-good story. Facebook’s newsfeeds streamed reposts of NBC News Anchor Ann Curry’s suggestion that Americans do one act of kindness for every student and faculty member shot at the Newtown massacre. I appreciated the story behind it–that witnessing the devastation of the tragedy, Curry asked herself: “What can I do?” And then, she proceeded to do “26 acts of kindness” in honor of all those who lost their lives and then she went on the air and encouraged others to do the same.
It’s akin to the bumper sticker: “Practice Acts of Kindness.”My spiritual teacher talks about that phrase a lot. Takes issue with it. I got it on one level and suddenly, I really got it.
First, if you’ve been reading “The Journey with Grace,” you know that I no longer hold to the theology of my Baptist upbringing (and that of many other parts of the Christian belief system,) which states that humankind are born sinners. That never set with me and I believe it doesn’t jive: If we are created in the image of God, then why are we inherently “bad?” Research into Christian history reveals a tell-tale timeline when church leaders began contorting the pure message of Jesus as to keep commoners towing the religious line. I digress too much from my point here…which is that I believe we are inherently kind. Too often, we just forget it. We become adulterated by the world, by religion, by abuses, etc., and we become something we are not born to be.
You may not agree with me, I realize. I believe that if we are true to the nature of our creation then we don’t have to “practice” kindness. We are kindness. My friend, writer/therapist Dawn Kirk writes about that in a blog post on the difference of being love versus doing love. The latter is an act. It takes effort. The former comes from the heart.
So, while I applaud “doing” kindness and the act of “practicing” it–especially the message of making a difference in the face of tragedy by performing 26 acts of kindess–I am struck by the irony of it. Much like Christmas. The holiday is a heart-joy-full time of giving. Charitable acts of goodwill seem to proliferate during the season. But. Why. Does. It. Have. To. Stop?! Of course, giving does not stop. It happens everyday, as one “take home message” seems to be in the face of this national event. But, you know as well as I do, that it happens considerably less than during Christmas. And irony, if the origin of the religious holiday we call Christmas was to celebrate Jesus’ birth, then why aren’t we out being the pure, unadulterated love and service message that Jesus’ came to this earth to deliver every day, every season? (Of course, that happens, too, but I think you get the point.)
Practicing kindness is an event–in the shadow of a tragedy, during a particular season. Being kindness? Well, what if we took to BEING kind 352 days of the year, every year? Now that…might change things, for real. Permanently.
Let’s forget about practicing kindness. Let’s be kind. Today. Tomorrow. The Next day….Let’s be the nature of who we are as a creation of the Divine.