But then the missionaries came, and her people were persuaded to believe that “God does not live in Mount Kenya. God lives in heaven.” And when that separation was internalized, it became easy for industrialists to cut down the forest and plough the land. The concept of having ‘dominion over’ was new to them, for they were taught to be stewards of the land. Soon “they found themselves literally at the mercy of the forces of those dominators.”
I found the interview to be quite telling and perhaps a clue as to why the world is filled with so much fear and anger these days. It’s like we’ve forgotten who we are. We’ve forgotten that kindness and harmony don’t come from somewhere up in heaven but are right here within each and every one of us. The spirit of a human being, our humaneness, is witnessed not in dominating over one another but in coming together in community for the common good of all.
Everywhere I look on the trail I see examples of compassion and interdependence. This makes me believe that kindness and harmony are in fact not only our true nature but the nature of life itself. Flowers are the source of life for bees and butterflies. Trees are the source of life for squirrels and birds. Streams are the source of life for fish and otters. If everything on this planet is a source of life for others, why would we human beings not understand that we are we are a source of life too? Goodness and kindness aren’t gifts from above; we were born with them in us to give freely in order to nurture and be stewards of each other. That’s the Way. And the more we offer these gifts, the more powerful the gift becomes and the more powerful the giver becomes. Those who are truly powerful are kind, not domineering.
I think some people are afraid and angry because they haven’t drawn on their own goodness or kindness enough and it leaves them with a tremendous feeling of emptiness. They try numerous ways, like food, alcohol and drugs, to numb or distract themselves but these addictions only amplify their despair. The persisting emptiness consequently becomes the perfect breeding ground for both fear and anger to incubate and grow into a sense of powerlessness and inadequacy. And when the inner voice is saying “lack, lack, lack,” deficiencies becomes visible everywhere: in the closet, in people around, and, most devastatingly, in ourselves.
I know a little about this because I was a bulimic and tried everything to fit in – everything but reaching out with kindness and generosity. Fortunately I have learned over the years to first be kind to myself. I am a work in progress and must have patience when I err. I have also learned that I have many teachers around to assist and inspire me. When I focus on wanting to see kindness, it appears all around and I let it motivate me to pass it on.
I’ve also learned that kindness is a form of currency, for what we want in life isn’t more money but more happiness. A note of appreciation, a box of homemade cookies or staying behind to help clean up after a party are just a few ways to assist with that. But those who don’t understand this, those who aren’t aware that they have kindness to give, end up having to pay for everything in cash.
Interesting how vulnerability brings out the best in people. My mother-in-law remembers the Depression as being the happiest of years. Life was simple, nobody had anything and everything was shared. Kindness and generosity were rampant. Perhaps if we felt the sacredness of life at all times, recognized our vulnerability within the great scheme of things everyday, we would draw more on our kindness to make the world a gentler place.
Funny how times change, not long ago people who revered the land were considered primitive and uncivilized and those who dominated over it were called cultured. Now I wonder who the sophisticates and who the savages are.
Jewel in the song, Hands, sings “In the end, only kindness matters. In the end, only kindness matters.” How true. Domination is not the way to happiness, stewardship is.
Anger is bred from fear and powerlessness and fear is bred from ignorance. Maybe our schools should be teaching the importance of reaching out with kindness and generosity - and not just generosity with money, but generosity with our smiles, generosity with giving people the benefit of the doubt, and perhaps most importantly, generosity with patience.
There’s so much anger and worry in the air these days it feels like it will lead to some kind of revolution. I propose this: REVOLT AGAINST FEAR! BE KIND. BE GENEROUS.