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Underestimating kindness

 

Graphic by Kyra Marshall
Graphic by Kyra Marshall

Breaking from human nature 

 The United States has always maintained a culture that emphasizes independence and self-reliance. These are valuable traits to possess and are responsible for the remarkably fast and wide growth of our country. I fear, however, that these traits have eclipsed kindness and the community-based atmosphere in our culture.

It seems everyone is always looking for the “quick fix” and are willing to cut corners and hurt others just to get the most for the least amount of work. Americans have been conditioned to take advantage of the system. This is unfortunate because people can be both successful and kind. These traits are not mutually exclusive. 

 

A jogger rodeo 

I was watching a Norwegian TV show once, called “I kveld med Ylvis,” and saw something that astounded me.  The show hosts dressed up like cowboys and hid in bushes in the park. They waited for passing joggers and then jumped out and onto the joggers backs, seeing who could stay on for eight seconds while yelling “YEE-HAW!” Most of the joggers looked seriously confused, but kept jogging. Some caught on, laughing and participating. Only one person got mad.  

If someone jumped on your back while jogging in America, it would likely terrify you and rightly so. My staunch realization was that, “I don’t trust my fellow Americans.” While these Norwegians were unfazed by their fellow man, for U.S. citizens it might warrant a negative or even dangerous reaction. I feel like this needs to change. By all means, if someone jumps on your back while jogging here in the USA, protect yourself with full force — especially if they are dressed as a clown. I just hope that someday we can create enough peace and trust in our own beautiful country to not have to be frightened for our lives all the time.  

 

Resolution starts with caring 

I suggest that we start prioritizing kindness, love and community in our culture. Our elderly, veterans, children, poor and disadvantaged, or everyone really, needs to be taken care of. I am not saying that this care has to be established by government. In fact, we ultimately cannot rely on the government to take care of us, our neighbors, friends and fellow Americans.

Many people are terrified of what will happen to kindness after this election. I myself have been disgusted with the hatred and abrasive attitudes of people on all sides of this expansive divide. But the truth is, we the people are the only ones who truly have the power to take care of each other. No matter what side of the political divide you are on, we all have the responsibility to take care of one another.

 

Being kind promotes well-being

Dr. David R. Hamilton has studied the scientific effects of kindness in the body. He says: “Scientific evidence has proven that kindness changes the brain, impacts the heart and immune system, and may even be an antidote to depression.” Kindness causes a release of serotonin in our bodies. This acts as an anti-depressant, increases learning, improves memory, boosts mood, assists in sleep, enhances health, provides energy, aids in digestion and, most of all, helps you to feel great amounts of positivity, self-worth and heightens your sense of well-being. Kindness also helps others to feel cared about, loved and important, which promotes the cycle. Our nation could certainly use these important benefits.  

You can start by showing kindness to those who you interact with in your own community. Compliment the cashier, smile and hold the door open for someone, reach out to someone who is feeling lonely. Initiate peace when someone is trying to initiate contention. Refrain from being argumentative and increase your acts of service.  Volunteer with organizations that promote love and care. This is how we can truly make a difference. Starting with ourselves, we can build a world of love and acceptance.  

 

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