A “be kind” challenge? Let me give you a brief background first.
Be kind challenge: A moment someone decided not to be kind
It was mid-day. I got off my SUV and walked towards the gas station with my keys and debit card. As I walked in, I heard a familiar noise. It took me two seconds to realize it was the noise of plastic hitting the ground. I had dropped my card. I turned just in time to see a guy already putting it in his back pocket. Our eyes met. He knew I knew. So, after a moment, he extended it to me pretending like that was what he was going to do from the beginning.
I snatched it from his hand, spat a “thank you” and stomped my way towards the line. He stayed around the gas station, but he didn’t look at me again. I was mad, holding the tears at the corner of my eyes. Why? you might wonder. After all, the guy did return my card.
The truth is I witness or experiment moments like these with annoying frequency. You’ve probably been there too: the moment when someone decides to do everything BUT to be kind. Or maybe you’ve been on the side of the perpetrator. Still, you could have a million excuses for hurting somebody, acting rude, yell, steal, lie, gossip or use violence. You might find a justification, list your circumstances or your background, nonetheless, in the end, you have an option. Therefore, you are choosing not to be kind.
On the other hand, at times, I feel too naïve to believe it could be otherwise. The fact that I keep hoping for people to make the right decisions, to be kind and considerate has gotten me multiple deceptions. Thus, why do I even bother?
Here’s why: A moment someone decided to be kind
I was sitting at a bus stop, in Busan, South Korea an afternoon of a cold November. A couple above their sixties approached the stop. The ajhumma sat next to me. I acknowledge her with a nod, and she nodded back. After a while, she took out two mandarin oranges from a bag she was carrying and extended them to me. Just like that. I murmured my best version of thank you in Korean, one of the few words I could say. She smiled and continued talking to her companion. I was hungry, so I peeled and ate the fruits right away.
It was not a touristic district. She couldn’t speak English and I could barely speak Korean. I was a stranger. Moreover, I was a foreigner. However, that didn’t stop her from being kind to me. She fed me, even though she didn’t know me. Furthermore, she didn’t have to. I wasn’t expecting anything, but she chose to do it: she chose to be kind above everything else.
And these are the true moments to live for: instances when you feel human, you feel like you’ve walked out of the jungle and into a world of humans. During these occasions, I know it’s worth it and that I’m not alone in choosing kindness over convenience, interest, or violence.
A moment you get to decide
Therefore, those little acts serve as motivation. I know there is good out there. Usually, people break under routine and social pressure. You might feel like you’ve been shaped into a warrior and that you must survive whatever actions need to be taken. Still, here is my challenge to you. Break the habit instead. Start by once a week, or once a day… Be kind. Smile, offer food to someone you don’t know, help somebody to cross the street, write a “hope you’re ok” text, share an umbrella with a stranger… Be kind. Don’t hesitate because of judgment. Don’t be afraid of something going wrong. Moreover, don’t stop to consider if they deserve it or not. Track your acts of kindness and if someone asks to return the favor, just like the movie Pay it forward, ask them to do something good for someone else.
Out there, there are millions of people refusing to give up hope on humanity. We are humans, and although some people will keep choosing to lie, to gossip, to rob, and to hurt, we shouldn’t be discouraged. Become aware of your acts and decisions. Let’s become mindful and stick together against real problems like hunger, poverty, war and inequality. Spread kindness… It will be difficult, you will struggle, and sometimes, you will fail… Nonetheless, I encourage you to keep trying. I throw this challenge out there, hoping it will go viral, hoping someone will listen: be kind.