By H4O Program Director, Zak Shellabarger
Most people are content with passive kindness – the type of “How are you doing? Good how are you?” to your neighbor type of kindness. That’s the easy type of kindness. Exchanging pleasantries and making small talk can be categorized as kindness, but it is pretty boring if you ask me.
Common kindness such as holding the door for someone or tipping your waiter is necessary. Those acts keep the world a more civil place. I have been to parts of the world where common kindness is virtually absent. It can get scary sometimes. So, keep saying hi to your neighbor, keep making small talk and holding the door for people… But don’t stop there.
Many of us like being kind – but only the type of kindness that requires very little sacrifice on our part. Radical kindness is the type of kindness that brings you out of your comfort zone – the type of kindness that makes you grow.
What do I mean by radical kindness?
I am talking about the type of kindness that requires you to wake up earlier, give up a Saturday, or give a part of your income towards. Sure, you gave a dollar to a homeless man on the street. Great start! That’s common kindness and it’s what keeps our society functioning. Now, I want you to go in your closet, take every piece of clothing you haven’t worn in 2 months, and give it away to your local homeless shelter. Make small talk with some of the workers there, then ask them about volunteer opportunities.
Radical kindness is the type of kindness that requires actual sacrifice and causes you to feel a bit uncomfortable. To “bless” someone actually means to give up something of yours so that someone else might be better off for it.
The discomfort we feel when we really go out of our way to be kind is the feeling of us growing. It is like growing pains for your character.
In the midst of a divided culture and war abroad, it is even more necessary now to exercise radical kindness. Do something this week that requires you to give up time, money, or your personal comfort. Help your elderly neighbor clean their gutters. Volunteer at the local animal shelter. Join H4O as we bring clean water to developing communities and relief to refugees.
Whatever you do, do it radically – not passively.