How many days/weeks has it been? And how are you doing?
Sheltering in place because of the coronavirus pandemic been hard on everyone. For many of us not seeing family, friends, and not being able to go places has been awkward and uncomfortable. We have been forced to see ourselves and things around us in a different light – in light of a global emergency. And there is one thing we can never be enough – showing kindness in these uncertain times.
Below are some reflections on why kindness is so important, especially now. You will also find a simple but powerful activity for your family to do together to show kindness to others in your own household and beyond.
We live in China, the first country to implement very strict rules on social distancing. Now, 15 weeks since the quarantine was announced, I am happy to share that our children are finally allowed back to school, and life is slowly getting back to a familiar “normal.” On my personal Facebook page, I shared updates on the situation in China and our city per se. On my blog, I published a post on Coronavirus Facts, about things that helped our family and friends to cope with the situation when it all first started.
At one point our family was under a mandatory lock-down, and we couldn’t leave the house. What carried us through uncertainty and disappointment was the kindness and care people showed us. So many offered to do shopping or cook for us, brought us books, and kept checking on us daily.
Over the course of the quarantine, we kept having regular character-building classes with our children and some of our friends’ children. In these classes, we usually discuss some aspects of moral and spiritual foundations, learn various quotes related to the virtues we study, and do activities relevant to each theme. Kindness has come up several times, and it is one of the virtues we keep reviewing and emphasizing. Why so, you might ask. Here are some quotes I found from various sources that explain why kindness is so important:
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. – The Dalai Lama
Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3
Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness. – Seneca
He who is deprived of kindness is deprived of goodness. – Sahih Muslim 2592
Loving kindness is greater than laws. – The Talmud
Every religion or spiritual teaching places a strong emphasis on kindness. It is something that is highly praised and that supports us through hard times. Kindness doesn’t only help those to whom we show it, but it helps us as well to connect to ourselves and others, to remind us that we are one human family.
The Kindness Jar
I want to share an activity that could be helpful in teaching this principle. It is called the kindness jar.
- Use a piece of paper to label your jar, “Kindness Jar.”
- Think of acts of kindness that could be performed every day. For example, wipe the table, fold the laundry, sweep the floor, say “I love you” to someone, arrange shoes, give a foot massage, bring a glass of water, etc.
- Write these acts of kindness on small pieces of paper, fold, and put them into the jar.
- Every day, conduct a family circle where everyone can choose one piece of paper from the jar and take upon themselves this act of kindness for the day.
- In the evening you can have another discussion on how it feels to do something kind.
- Think of someone else outside of your family who might need some extra kindness. Maybe it is a relative, a friend, or a teacher. How can you help them? Make a plan together on how to show kindness to this person/these people.
All these little lessons and acts of kindness help prepare our children for bigger things they might face: standing up for someone else or themselves, removing prejudice and discrimination, feeling empathy with others regardless of race, nationality, social status, or beliefs. The recent pandemic has shown us how much we, as a human race, still need to work on that. And how much we, as parents and teachers, can actually do to impact the hearts of children and help them create a better future for themselves and those around them.
I would like to share one more quote with you. It is one of my favorites and is so timely and true for the current situation.
“Therefore, my advice to you is, endeavor as much as ye can to show kindness toward all men, deal with perfect love, affection and devotion with all the individuals of humanity. Remove from amongst yourselves racial, patriotic, religious, sectional, political, commercial, industrial and agricultural prejudices, so that you may become freed from all human restrictions and become the founders of the structures of the oneness of the world of humanity. All the countries are one country; all the nations are the children of one Father.” – ‘Abdu’l-Baha (Star of the West, Volume 1, p. 2)
One of my favorite blog posts on Multicultural Kid Blogs is Acts of Kindness for Kids. How do you teach your children about kindness?