Monday, February 16, 2009

The challenge - being kind!

Kindness - we all like to think we're kind people. No one really wants to admit that we are selfish in nature. Lately, I've been feeling that I'm not living in a very kind environment. The people in this country are just downright rude and aggressively defending their own interests to the detriment of others. DH said that this category of people is a large minority of the citizens in this country. The large majority are passive and apathetic. There is, however, a tiny minority of folks who are genuinely kind and nice. DH and I think that sadly there are not enough of these people to go around to make this country a nicer place. Everyone is just so caught up with themselves, rushing around in the never ending chase for wealth and material goods. The success of individuals here are determined by just that. This country is not a place for individuals who just want to be happy with a simple life filled with good values and morals.

I find it very difficult to live here and emulate kindness when I am "slapped" by unkindness and rudeness on a daily basis.

An example of this: On Saturday, I took Osh Osh out for lunch as DH is on a two day revision course for his exams and couldn't be with us. I had planned for it to be a nice happy day. We were in the train station and I realised that I needed to top up the money in my train card. I went to an automated top up station and was about to insert my card into it. I was distracted for a second when Osh Osh asked me something. Suddenly, a middle aged woman dashed in front of me and quickly inserted her card into the machine. I was stunned! My train card was still in my outstretched hand. She was standing so close to me that I could see the strands of grey hair in her head. No sane minded person would have mistaken me for not wanting to use the machine. The woman was just downright rude. I wanted to yell at her and tell her off but Osh Osh was there with me. He was repeating his question about something he saw on one of the billboards. I couldn't get angry in front of him as that would have confused him. Still, I felt so angry. The lady eventually walked away without even looking at me. This is just one of the many examples of the daily rudeness I experience in this country. Sadly, as much as I didn't want this experience to taint my afternoon with Osh Osh, I ended up being distracted and was short tempered with Osh Osh when he fussed later that afternoon.

By coincidence, I had borrowed a book from the library titled "Love as a Way of Life: Seven Keys to Transforming Every Aspect of Your Life" by Gary Chapman. I really enjoyed reading his book on the five love languages which was why I decided to pick this up for a read. The book explores living your life daily filled with an "attitude of love". It doesn't mean feeling lovey dovey about everyone you meet and hugging every stranger on the street. From the two chapters I've read this morning, it entails a lot of hard work and perseverance to live your life with an "attitude of love". The writer writes that you would have succeeded in doing so if you practice the following seven attributes consistently: kindness, patience, forgiveness, courtesy, humility, generosity, and honesty.

I finished reading the chapter on kindness. I was torn between crying while reading in the train or laughing aloud. The writer suggests that we practise kindness irrespective of the responses we receive from the people we are kind to. We are to practise kindness even on difficult days, when we don't feel like doing it. The benefits we reap are not from the grateful "thank you"s from the recipients or even from the "feel good" factor within you. It's from knowing that you have contributed in some way to make someone else's life a little more pleasant. In a small way, you have emulated the character of our Lord Jesus Christ.

At this point in my life, I find it very difficult to really buy into this. I prayed, after reading that chapter. I asked God to give me a different perspective of my life in this country. So far, nothing's changed. Don't give up hope…that's what I'm telling myself. I pray God hasn't given up on me either.

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