When I first applied to college, one of the essay prompts I had to answer was, "What do you think is the most important concern or challenge facing humanity, and what will you do about it?" This was just over three years ago, and so, so much has happened in the world since then. If I could change my answer now I would probably say that the problem itself is actually ignorance instead of just a lack of kindness, but they can be explained basically the same way:
War, violence, poverty, deceit, hate, indifference, lying. How can you pick just one? This was my struggle when I first saw this essay question. Then I realized the one unifying link between all of these horrible problems: a lack of kindness.
“What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of,” the song says. But in today’s world, people are becoming more and more reluctant to express feelings as strong as love. In fact, the word "love" is thoroughly misused and overused as it is thrown around constantly and casually. Many psychological and sociological studies have been done, but I don’t need them to know that what the world really needs more of is compassion. Kindness is valued by all cultures and religions but seems to be depreciating in today’s society.
In the world we live in, people are growing up faster, being desensitized to violence and hardships, and are having less and less concern for the opinions and feelings of others. Now, not all of these statements are necessarily true of all people, but those are the general trends that seem to be dominating society. It is still possible to find genuine, respectful, and altruistic people, but now you have to look through all of the social media, media banter, political mudslinging, cyber bullying, to find them. I love this great country and am proud to consider myself to be a citizen of the world, but we as human beings are in great need of some mental and behavioral reform.
I have no elaborate scheme to cultivate kindness in the world, but I’m doing all I can: being kind. True, it’s not always fun and it’s definitely not always easy, but if not me, then who? You have to start somewhere, and I think the best way to do so is to lead by example. Kindness is a virtue, learned from birth and developed by life experiences. Psychoanalysis claims that true kindness changes people in radical ways while they are doing it. Biologically, acts of kindness release the neurotransmitters that are responsible for feelings of relaxation and satisfaction. Kinder people make for a happier, more satisfied world.
Peace, happiness, wealth, sincerity, love, sympathy, truth. Why pick just one when you can have them all through kindness?
It is now 2017, and time to start a new year. The world is far from perfect and so is humanity, but it’s time to do your part, make a difference, and be the change you want to see in the world.