Kindness must be one of the most beautiful words in the English dictionary. The way it rolls off our tongues or the way it makes people’s ears perk up every time they hear it, how can you not like it? But, the most significant part of the word is its meaning.
If I could use a metaphor to describe kindness, I’d say it is a combination of bright colours magically existing on the same brush, and we are the artists. Every act of kindness directed towards others is like a stroke of all these colours, and our canvas is the world that surrounds us.
Our society has been evolving in a rhythm that’s hard to follow. We have LGBTQ+ rights, Climate Change activism, Feminism, Black Lives Matter, and a thousand more movements created by people who want to deliver a better place than the one that was given to them. All these initiatives have a fundamental basis of compassion, which is the twin of kindness.
But even with all their glory and power, have these movements actively changed the world? Maybe at first. But they lack something important, they are missing the most significant part of their cause, and that’s the small actions, the individuality of the whole thing.
Once, I had this exact conversation with my girlfriend, and she told me something so simple, yet it has stuck with me after all this time: ‘’The problem with people is that they have all these grand gestures in their minds, all these movements, all that social media attention. I don’t doubt that they want to change the world, but in all honesty, these views feed their narcissism. They want the awe-inspiring action; they crave the posthumous fame the same way Homeric heroes like Achilles did. The truth is that we can all change the world if only we can change one person’s life. We change the lives of the people that we love, and by doing that, we teach them how to love. Then, in return, they use that knowledge and change the lives of others, and suddenly you have a butterfly effect.’’
There is strength in numbers, but sometimes you don’t need an entire movement. There is so much strength in how we live our lives: how much money we use for charity, how many things we donate, how thoughtful of the environment we can be. These things don’t need a movement. If each one of us adopted them as a way of living, the world would steadily become a better place. Once we change the small stuff, it is so much easier to gather even more strength and numbers and use more significant initiatives like the ones previously mentioned to change the Constitution itself. The world can’t survive without those initiatives, but we must never forget that they can’t bring change either if we don’t use our power as individuals to make small changes.
Erasmus Student Network has been contributing kindness to the world with its Social Inclusion Days. These couple of weeks (Nov 23 - Dec 7) are dedicated to equality, unity in diversity, and the general power of acceptance. It is one of the most important initiatives of our network, because at its core, it is bargaining the concept of kindness in the most wholesome way possible. It inspires people to educate themselves on the concept of inclusion, to actively create events all around Europe that are dedicated to helping local communitites and creating true inclusion. Despite the pandemic of COVID-19, volunteers from all around Europe are working towards a kinder world in their own way. Find the online activities on the activities platform, or find your local section and see whether they are gathering items for different causes and show some kindness now.
Taking all this into consideration, I believe that the idea of a better world is an initiative, and we can all participate by being kind and compassionate towards others. I am going to close this with a quote from my favourite book, A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara: ‘’It is not only that he died, or how he died; it is what he died believing. And so, I try to be kind to everything I see, and in everything I see, I see him.’’ If you want to take something from this article, take this: kindness is the power of offering peace, not to an entire world, but to those who need it most. And like all things, we have to yield this power with responsibility and love.