Why kindness is necessary in difficult times

This week is I want to pause and reflect on kindness in difficult times.
Part of a field of poppies collaged upside down to make us pause. Art by author.

The mulberry tree next door is lush green, laden with berries, and alive with birds and insects. In a few months, the leaves, bigger than the palms of my hand, will turn brown, shrink and fall off. In winter, the tree will look barren while it takes a long nap, and then in spring, it will burst with life again. The cycle of life is always ongoing in all its shades – happiness, sadness, endurance, resistance, adaptation, humor, irritation, boredom…and so on.

Talking about the cycle of life and difficult times, over the past days, areas in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands were flooded, some people like me and you lost their homes and lives. And this is yet another event in a chain of weird and sad events over the last two years. In general, I worry a lot about things going wrong. But this last year has given me moments to pause and reflect.

And one thing I learned from my parents’ stories about difficult times they or their parents saw (the colonization of India, partition, wars, riots, and extremist movements) is that kindness and community can make difficulties bearable and endurable. Even in hindsight. Because amidst chaos and difficulty, they give us stories of tenderness and sweetness, even if they don’t ‘solve’ anything. They are like an oasis in the desert, essential for beings like us that need water and greenery). So today I just want us to take a moment to pause and breathe. And give thanks for all that’s good, and be kind – to ourselves and/or to others.

Whatever kindness means to you – it could be words, an act, a thought, or taking a walk or a nap, asking someone how they are, donating, or giving a helping hand to someone around you. Whatever will make you feel soft and spacious inside – because that’s what kindness feels like to me.

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