Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Teaching our kids kindness

I can’t take credit for what is to follow because they are not my words. I can, however, tell you that it puts into words something that I was thinking about long and hard last night. I was sweeping the floor while the John Cena DVD was playing in the background. Yeah, John Cena, the WWE Superstar guy. It’s a DVD that goes beyond his time in the ring and tells about the other stuff that he’s passionate about in life. One of those things is taking advantage of his celebrity to bring joy and happiness into the lives of others. Yeah, maybe it takes a bit of arrogance to do this, but so be it. The fact of the matter is that after you have enough people ask for an autograph or picture with you, you know that you have put in the work to impact lives in some way. While it may just be you signing your name in your head, to the person you’re doing it for…it makes their day, week, month, year, or maybe even their life. Who knows?

John Cena has loads of money in the bank, nice cars, and a pretty girlfriend. You could consider him a success based on those things alone. I, however, don’t. I don’t consider a person successful until they are able to see what they have in their life and make the conscious decision to start giving back in some way. Whether it be through time, resources, funding…whatever. Giving back to help others reach success defines success. Being kind defines success. Any person can have a crap ton of cash in the bank, but if he almost runs me over because he’s drunk driving his douche car home to his douche pad, I’m not going to consider him successful. He’s thoughtless, careless, and needs an ass kicking.

We teach kids now days that it’s all about how fancy of a place we live in or how nice of a car we drive or how much money we have in the bank. I can’t deny that having all those things would be great, but in the end what does any of it matter if your heart is empty? If you are a miserable human being with nothing to give, what difference does your stupid giant “pad” make?

I’ve noticed that I do pay attention to the places I shop based on what I know of their community service efforts. I know that if I come into contact with a store manager who treats me like crap because I’m gay, I’m not going to shop at that store any more. If a store is known for being one of the most giving in the community, I’ll gladly pay a little extra there for a product than go to a place that doesn’t. Kindness really is what it’s all about. I hope that we can get that lesson back to the top of our minds and teach kids that THIS is what life really is all about…not the money, cars, and stuff…before it’s too late. With that being said, here’s the article that says what I wanted to say. They just say it better. Oh, and throw in some personal responsibility lesson teaching while you’re at it, too.

Never forget that kids take in things that you don’t think they do. They’re like little sponges…just soaking in your messages of good, bad, and everything in between. So why not make an effort of showing kindness so that you can at least try and say you did your part to produce a future generation of people who care? No video game is going to do that...at least not that I know of. I could very well be wrong. Even if it takes every bit of energy in your should to bite your hateful tongue and speak words of neutrality to lean towards kindness, hey...at least that's progress, right? We should all want our kids to be better than we are. I know I want my cat to be better than me. He's already way cuter and quieter, so we've got that down. Let's do this. Let's teach our kids kindness and the joy of giving back. 
      We Should Teach Our Children Kindness

Life is an adventure, a constant exploration of reality. As kids growing up we read wild fantasy novels and watch immaculate movies, all dreaming of one day going on our own adventure. Then we grow up and think the fantasies of our childhood were all made up. We have kids and teach them to say please and thank you. We have spouses and only get them presents on holidays. Then 40 years pass by, and the eight-year-old reading Harry Potter in his bedroom is long gone.

What if we created a new reality? Certainly we can’t create things like magic and dragons, but what if we created something greater than these things? As we tuck in our children at night, let’s tell them of an adventure greater than Harry Potter, greater than Star Wars, greater than anything a human being could ever describe in a story.
In terms of conventional advice, it is often wise for us to keep our desires in check. If we spend our entire lives chasing after infallible dreams, never content with where we are, we will only be miserable. As people we are told to accept ourselves for who we are, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. That is an incredibly beautiful and endearing sentiment to remember. Keeping that in mind will only lead to peace in your heart.
But that is not enough. At least, not for you. You were born for more.
You were born for more than a life of peace. Your heart was created for more than to simply beat in a straight, monotone line. Your heart craves adventure! It craves the greatest adventure a human being could ever set forth on.
It craves kindness.
It craves the constant struggle of acting on what is truly right, regardless of how it hurts yourself. It craves the creation of a world where humans do not act in their own self-interest, but in the interest of others.

And in many ways, this is the most difficult adventure a human being could ever set forth on. More difficult than slaying a mighty dragon, or even waging war against an evil empire! Kindness is a war of the mind, a war against the ego. This war cannot be illustrated. This war is only felt in the smallest moments, when the ego pounds away in the mind, begging us to do whatever is easiest and safest for ourselves.
And this war is different for every one of us, in every moment of our life. There are the tiny battles like incidental eye contact and a smile at strangers passing by, to the biggest battles such as revealing our most sincere feelings to those who matter most to us. Big or small, the most important battles of our lives will be battles of the heart. In the end our own joy will not be the only sole thing that matters, but the joy we give others. The feeling that rises within them when they see us, as if they are cared for, as if they are loved.
As our children grow up they may only want to be happy. But as we tuck in their covers and turn out the light, we will not tell them to search for happiness. We will tell them to search for kindness, to search for love.
We will tell them that they may never find enough, and that’s OK. Because in the end, we will not be remembered for our pleases and thank you’s (although they are certainly important), but our struggle to create something more.

Then we’ll fall asleep, floating along in this beautiful adventure we’ve created for ourselves.

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