What I am thinking about today.
This morning I asked people “IN a world that doesn’t seem to reward being kind, why be kind?”
I got some very good answers (and wish I would have gotten more, you slackers), but I said that I have my own reason for being kind:
First: I don’t believe in any supernatural beings, gods, or the rest. I believe what I see and experience, so… I think that we are all we’ve got. We’ve made it to the top of the food chain, and the only predators that threaten us are each other. We can make this brief existence good or bad, and I choose to do what I can to make it good (as best I can and to my abilities) because We Are All We’ve Got.
Second: The good we do can outlive us. If I plant a tree, I may not get to read in its shade, but someone will, and I want to help that future person. When I do a kindness that has branches in the future, I feel good that I am not contributing to the further degradation of the planet or those of us that live on it. I can’t very well fight for the environment, human rights, etc… if I am an asshole, now can I? OK, I can’t without a lot of cognitive dissonance.
Last: In my 20’s and early 30’s, I was a bitter sarcastic person due to the things that had happened to me growing up and as a young adult. I felt the world was out to get me, people were terrible and it was a dog eat dog world. In 1999, I decided through a series of things that I didn’t want to be that person any more, and I hung my hat on the Kurt Vonnegut quote: “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.” I decided I would pretend to be kind. I would pretend to be open to change and improvement. I would be open to unconditional love, no matter the cost (and the cost has been pretty damned high, let me tell you). I would pretend to be the kind of person I wanted in my life, so that if no one ever came into my life on a deeper level, I would at least have me.
Yep, shitty things happen. Good people get ground into paste by jerks. But….
“The world is like a ride at an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it, you think it’s real, because that’s how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round and it has thrills and chills and it’s very brightly colored and it’s very loud. And it’s fun, for a while.
Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question: ‘Is this real? Or is this just a ride?’ And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and they say ‘Hey! Don’t worry, don’t be afraid — ever — because… this is just a ride.’ And we kill those people.
‘Shut him up! We have a lot invested in this ride! Shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry; look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real.’ It’s just a ride. But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that — ever notice that? — and we let the demons run amok. But it doesn’t matter, because… it’s just a ride, and we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort. No worry. No job. No savings and money. Just a choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy bigger guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one.
Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, into a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defense each year and, instead, spend it feeding, clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would do many times over — not one human being excluded — and we can explore space together, both inner and outer, forever. In peace. “ – Bill Hicks.