Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the kindest of them all?
As my daughter is getting older I notice that, even though I want many things for her, the one thing I seem to value most is to instill kindness in her. More than being intelligent, funny, beautiful, brave or even creative, I want my daughter to be kind. I want her to become a sweet, loving person, with a big, kind heart. Because I believe that is the key to her happiness and to a better world.
I don’t get nervous if she can’t name as many colors or count as far as another two-year-old. It doesn’t bother me if she looks more like a wildling than a princess half the time. And I don’t get angry if she doesn’t want to jump off a bench or pet an animal because she is afraid. But I do find myself getting upset if she hits or pushes another kid. And my heart fills with joy if she consoles a crying baby or hugs a friend. Because those are qualities I truly value. She will have her entire life to understand math, dress up like a princess and learn jump off things. Or not. It doesn’t really matter. What truly matters is that she has a good heart. Some of you may think it is unwise to focus on something as mundane as “being sweet”.
After all, we live in a world where kindness is often perceived as a weakness. Doors open if you are intelligent, pretty and/or wealthy. We need to be smart, we can’t be naive, we need to be strong, we can’t be soft. How can I prepare my child for “the real world” if she can’t fight? How can she survive in this harsh, cruel reality if she is “sweet”? How can she stand on her own two feet if she isn’t able to compete, with a fierceness that borders on maliciousness?
I don’t know yet. But I do know, with all my heart, that I need to focus on kindness. Our children are the future. And I want a future for them without war, rape, violence, abuse and deceit. I want a world where people are kind to one another, accept - and celebrate - each other’s differences, respect nature and animals. And I truly believe that if we invest in kindness, we will be able to create a better world.
I understand that, for a lot of people, this world has never been a place they can just “live” in. They have to “survive” it. And they have to fight, to their last breath, to do so. Thriving is just for the lucky few. And it seems like this is becoming a reality for more and more people every day. The answer a lot of people have for this changing reality is to become just as harsh as the world we live in. I don't agree.
It’s a scary world. Yes. We need to be prepared. In a way. But by accepting that scary, angry, violent world as a fixed reality, I feel like we are giving up. Giving up on this world, that can be so much more. On us, as humans, who have the possibility not just to be “good”, but to be amazing. We need to fight this world, but not in the way you think. We need to fight it with kindness. Only then will we truly win.