Today marks the 9 year anniversary of the passing of my late mother-in-law (May her soul rest in everlasting peace). I never met her, but everyday I wish I could get just one day to spend with her. Let me tell you why. It is because as soon as her name is mentioned, faces light up. People that I have met that knew her have nothing but nice things to say about her. Men call her ‘the gracious lady of our time’ and women constantly refer to her as ‘my best friend’. I am not kidding you, that lady probably had a thousand best friends from different parts of the world! Stories are unearthed about ‘I remember this time Sakina did this that made me feel so happy’, a few tears of nostalgia are wiped away, prayers are whispered for her. I never tire of witnessing these remarkable reactions to a woman now long gone, and I am always in awe of the legacy she left behind. The legacy of her kindness is the best piece of inheritance that she could have ever left for her kids. It is because of her kindness that her children will always have friends among strangers. Trust me on this- I have personally witnessed this inheritance at work time and time again.
I used the example of my late mother-in-law to demonstrate the impact of our behaviors on others because I can relate to the powers of goodness on a personal level. Often times we hear of the great figures of our time and we think that their saintly characteristics are beyond us ordinary folk. Think of the greats such as Mandela, Gandhi, MLK, and Mother Theresa. They raised the bar so high that we cannot even attempt to attempt their moral standards, let alone achieve them. They inspire us, yes, but how often have we fallen off the “I’ll take the higher road” bandwagon before we barely even get on it? Why is it so damn hard to be ‘good’? Not even great, just ‘good’.
All the world’s religions emphasize on kindness and there are so many verses dedicated to the encouragement of the cultivation of kindness:
“…those who believe, and enjoin patience, (constancy, and self-restraint), and enjoin deeds of kindness and compassion, such are the Companions (of paradise) Quran 90: 17-18.
Those who do not abandon mercy will not be abandoned by me. Shinto. Oracle of the Kami of Itsukushima
Love covers a multitude of sins. Christianity. 1 Peter 4.8
Mencius said, “‘Benevolence’ means ‘man.’ When these two are conjoined, the result is ‘the Way.'” Confucianism. Mencius VII.B.16
Have benevolence towards all living beings, joy at the sight of the virtuous, compassion and sympathy for the afflicted, and tolerance towards the indolent and ill-behaved. Jainism. Tattvarthasutra 7.11
The world stands upon three things: upon the Law, upon worship, and upon showing kindness. Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 1.2
What sort of religion can it be without compassion? You need to show compassion to all living beings. Compassion is the root of all religious faiths. Hinduism. Basavanna,
Let him be cordial in all his ways and refined in conduct; filled thereby with joy, he will make an end of ill. Buddhism. Dhammapada 368, 376
(compiled by Andrew Wilson-http://www.guidedones.com/metapage/non_muslims/kindness.htm)
I don’t mean to get all spiritual on you, but I think you get the point. And wherever you fall within the spiritual spectrum (from the uber-religious to the atheist), I think we can all agree that kindness is really, really important to the basic survival of the human race. Oh and before I forget, I would like to emphasize that religiosity is not directly proportional to kindness. I have had numerous experiences in which non-religious folks were kinder to me than religious officials. Kindness, I guess, is innately a matter of personal choice.
Like birth, death is an integral part of the human experience. No matter where we are in life right now, you and I will die one day. And when that day comes, how would you like to be remembered? Will your name serve positively in history or will your memory provoke murmurs of “phew, good riddance!”? Will you be a micro-Gandhi or a micro-Hitler? The choice is yours….spend your life wisely. Please leave a positive legacy.