ISSUES OF FAITH: Try to embrace the science of kindness

There is an embrace of kindness that encompasses all life, even yours.

And while there is still injustice, callousness and cruelty in the world, through kindness there moves a sacred, healing balm that connects us all to the best in one another.

Don’t believe me? Let me demonstrate with a story.

Richard Robertson is a 56-year-old man living in Detroit.

Due to his personal poverty and the poor bus service in his area, Richard has to walk 10½ miles to and from work each day.

This 21-mile walking commute takes a very long time, so much so that Richard doesn’t get much time to sleep at night.

Can you imagine how tired he must always be?

Richard makes the best of it, though, and tries to stay positive. Eventually, people along his walking route get to know him.

When they realize just how far he walks each day, one of them decides to share Richard’s plight with a reporter.

When the story hits the local press, the public responds swiftly and generously. By pooling their funds, these people — most of whom don’t personally know Richard — are able to raise enough to buy him a car.

This, in turn, made them and Richard very, very happy.

Here’s where the science of kindness comes in.

Did you feel any sensations when reading the details of Richard’s story and the public’s response? Perhaps you felt a warmth in your chest. Perhaps you felt some flickering of hope over the state of humanity.

Maybe you even smiled as you began imagining how you could replicate such kindness in your own neighborhood.

That is called moral elevation — a natural high triggered when we witness or hear about an act of kindness. When we experience moral elevation, it lifts our spirits and makes us feel good.

This compels us to continue seeking this type of rewarding sensation.

Kindness, then, becomes a positive contagion that cascades through humanity, proving that not all conformity is bad.

Yes, each time we release kindness out into the world, no matter how small, a powerful surge of energy pulses through humanity, uplifting everyone in its path.

This chain reaction extends farther than we can ever know or imagine.

Even when our own lives are difficult, even when we’re trapped indoors by the COVID-19 pandemic, we still possess the power to choose kindness.

By intentionally choosing to be kind, we can create ongoing ripples of compassion that offer hope and connection in our fractured, hurting world. May this become our daily practice.

________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Kate Lore is a minister at the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Port Townsend. Her email is [email protected]

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