MANY years back I read Henry James’s advice: “Three things in human life are important: The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” It did seem to resonate in my altruistic heart, but at some level also appeared to be too utopian.
Recently, I happened to go through a back issue of “Reader’s Digest” (Jan 2009), which contained a lovely article titled, ‘Why kindness is good for you.’ Some of its findings will truly motivate many people to try and be kinder.
An American academic analysed ancient societies and discovered that kindness was a key component of survival of communities. A new theory, ‘survival of the nicest’ was born, which says that the human race prospered as a species just due to kindness. “Groups with many altruists tend to survive,” he notes, because they are apt to cooperate and contribute to the group’s wellbeing.
A study by Prof Stephen Post, author of ‘Why Good Things Happens to Good People,’ of 2016 church members, found that those who regularly helped others had better mental health and lower rates of depression. Other studies too demonstrated a strong correlation between the wellbeing, happiness and health of folks who are kind, he says.
If we observe life closely enough, we will realise that it becomes more livable when there are at least some idealistic and compassionate people around. Similarly, if faced on a regional and global level, then it cannot be addressed successfully if everybody acts selfishly.
Another important lesson is that we can easily train ourselves to be kinder just by performing more kind deeds and on a regular basis. It must also be realised that all major religions teach their followers to love others and act compassionately, treating others as we would like to be treated ourselves (the golden rule).For instance, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had taught: “You should be kind to those who are on earth, and He, Who is in the Heavens, will be kind to you.” He had also said: “Love is the foundation of my existence.”
We Pakistanis are going through particularly hard, violent and loveless times and the only cure is to shower oodles of love and kindness upon our compatriots, putting Pakistan ahead of selfish motives.
As I like to put it, life’s priorities are three: The first is to love. The second is to love. And the third is to love.
May Allah make Pakistan the land of love and peace that it used to be, Aameen.
KHALID CHAUDHRY Karachi