Implied in this theme is a sense that we all – together and as individuals – have the power to shape the world and the shape the world takes depends on whether we are shaping the world with kindness or something else. The power to shape the world with kindness puts the issue of the relationship between humans and the intangible attribute of kindness front and centre. And it compels us to ask some pertinent questions. For example, what is it about showing kindness that makes it is such a big deal?
What is it about kindness that leaves everyone – irrespective of their upbringing, current status, income level, age, sex, religion, favourite football club or pastime – without excuse or blame when they do not extend it to others?
What is it about kindness that puts the ability to express, show and extend it to others within every human being?
What is it about kindness that we find ourselves constantly presented with opportunities to show it to others?
What is it about kindness that makes one good turn deserve another? That is, why does kindness tend to beget kindness?
What is it about kindness that everyone is born fully qualified and enabled to demonstrate it and none needs a special condition or procedure to become capable of expressing kindness?
The virtue of kindness is innate, it is inborn. It is native to our human nature. Kindness is human. It is us. We all arrive the earth with kindness already planted inside of us. Once you are human, the milk of human kindness is already flowing in you. Unlike breast milk, which only lactating females can express, the milk of human kindness needs no special condition or procedure to be produced within any one of us. It already exists in us and can be expressed towards others – all year round.
Kindness is a universal language that is not limited by tribe or tongue. It is not a gender-, race- or culture-specific trait but a universal human trait. While there may be different cultural and religious nuances to it, what it is in its simplest and basic form is shared across cultures and across religions.
In addition, kindness is not complex or complicated. It is the simplest of human virtues and attributes. It is as simple and unsophisticated as a smile, a point of the finger to show direction, a kind word, a greeting, the mention of someone’s pet name in place of their birth name, a pat on the back, a helping hand, a reassuring look, a warm embrace and innumerable other simple gestures that can be extended to others and warm their hearts. Like Plato said, “Kindness is more than deeds. It is an attitude, an expression, a look, a touch. It is anything that lifts another person.” So, kindness is a virtue we all can express through the simplest of gestures at all times.
And as this year’s World Kindness Day holds, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation (www.randomactsofkindness.org) makes a call for all to “make kindness the norm” and shares seven “ways to start making kindness the norm in your daily life”. The ways include: One, send an uplifting text to a friend or family member. Two, let that guy merge into traffic with a wave and a smile. Include intentional moments of kindness, laughter and delight in your daily routine, is the third way. The fourth is: Go slightly outside of our comfort zone at least once a day to make someone smile. Five, share a compliment with a co-worker or friend. Six, reach out to a family member you have not spoken to in a while. And seven, treat someone to a cup of coffee (a friend, stranger, or even yourself)
As anyone can tell, all seven ways are things just about anyone can do multiple times in a day to multiple people they meet along the way. And they need not be exactly as couched here. Each way can be applied within everyone’s own cultural context. For example, we can treat someone to our local (and healthier alternative) “zobo” rather than coffee.
Just imagine what our world would look like if everyone endeavoured to just practise these seven ways every day. It would, if we go by Jack Kerouac’s saying “Practise kindness all day to everybody and you will realise you are already in heaven”, transform our world and make it like heaven.
If deliberately and generously extended to the disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in society, it would bring some measure of heaven to their world. And this is what Chinwe Bode-Akinwande (CBA) Foundation (www.cbafoundation.org) has been seeking to do since its establishment in 2015. Primarily dedicated to promoting the protection of underprivileged widows in Nigeria and their vulnerable children, the Foundation has pursued its mission with a dogged focus on its 5-point agenda or schemes. Year after year, it has continued to reach out to as many underprivileged widows as its resources (donated by kind individuals like you reading now) can take to offer them and their vulnerable children succour.
So far, the CBA Foundation has supported 8,600 widows through its Empowerment and Capacity Building scheme; taken care of 4,500 widows through the Foundation’s Health Intervention scheme; distributed food to 10,600 widows through its Nutrition scheme; reinstated at least 158 children of widows who dropped out of school due to lack of school fees through the Foundation’s Quality Basic Education scheme; and financially empowered at least 220 widows to run their own micro businesses through its Self-employment scheme. All these have been achieved by people like you allowing the milk of human kindness in them to flow to these vulnerable groups through the Foundation and its intervention activities.
On the occasion of this year’s World Kindness Day, the CBA Foundation has a simple message and appeal. The Foundation wants us all to look at our life and all the blessings we take for granted, and then to look at the underprivileged widows that we find all around us and their vulnerable children. If you were in their shoes, what would you hope and wish those whose lives are a bit better could do just to make living a little less unbearable? Now search deeply within you and ask yourself if this kindness that they wish for is not within your reach, if it is not something you could do and would love to do?