Sometimes it takes only one act of kindness and caring to change a person’s life – Jackie Chan
The Safe Zone
“Daddy!” our daughter, Esther, called out as she pointed to one of the couches in our living room. “This is the safe zone.” She was planning a game of tag with her sister, Priscilla, and wanted me to play. The game began as soon as Esther tagged me and ran off yelling, “Tag, you’re it!” Her sister followed, and I chased them around the house. Our daughters are fast. They darted through the house laughing as I tried my best to “tag” one of them. As I drew close to Esther, she took a sharp turn and bolted for the safe zone, jumped on the couch, and said, “I’m in the safe zone, you can’t tag me.” Her sister jumped on the couch too, and I fell to the floor tired, and we all laughed.
Looking back at that capsule of time, I find a connection between the game of tag, the safe zone established, and kindness. We live in a world where it is easy to be tagged with hate, anger, revenge, and other vitriol that spreads easily and quickly in our culture. These contagions wreak havoc on society in harmful ways like hate crimes. While it is easy to get tagged by the toxicity of the environment we live in, kindness is a safe zone that we can all apply daily to insulate ourselves from the urge to act in ways that reflect the noxious behavior of our day. How do you disarm the devastating effects of hate with the safe zone of kindness? Let’s look at kindness at a granular level.
Granules of Kindness
A microscope is a powerful tool that helps see things beneath the surface level. It brings a level of detail previously unknown, leading to discovery and enhanced learning. To learn what makes kindness powerful, we must take a microscopic look at the granules that form this superpower. This discovery will make kindness more intentional and actionable in our daily lives.
The first granule we discover under the microscope is compassion, the desire to help others. Compassion is rooted in caring for people. Compassion actually brings people together as it forges heart-to-heart connectivity. Through kindness, a heart of compassion is revealed. Compassion means pausing long enough to pay close attention, a needed trait in our hustle and bustle culture. This inability to pause and pay attention often results in a self-centered view. While it satisfies our immediate needs in the short term, this view of life is ultimately harmful to our health and society at large.
The second granule is empathy. While compassion sees the need, empathy feels the need. With empathy, our hearts are opened, and we want to learn more about a person to understand them. This is time-involving and calls for intentionality. It also requires looking at life from another person’s perspective or walking a mile in their shoes. I must admit, this is no easy task for me, but it is an area I am committed to growing in. Our daughters help me with this every day as I balance being an authoritative yet empathetic father. Engaging with them at their level is one way I apply empathy. Empathy means being touched by what others experience. Is the humanitarian crisis arising from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine causing your heart to go out to the innocent? This reflects empathy.
The third granule is service. Kindness is rendered ineffective without a heart to serve. Service looks past ethnicity or other blockers sees a soul in need and works in the smallest possible ways to meet the need. Compassion sees the need, empathy feels the need, and service meets the need. Service gives compassion and empathy legs to stand and walk. At the end of the day, kindness is not wishful thinking or daydreaming; it is compassion in action. Service always acts out of love and never expects anything in return, including gratitude. The act of serving is the reward. Service always asks, “How can I help?”
Final Thought: Disarming hatred is possible through kindness. Acts of kindness restore hope that venomous habits in our society attempt to steal. Every day is a good day to be kind to someone regardless of how they treat you. A tit-for-tat mentality only drives the stake of hatred deeper into the fabric of our culture. Will you be tagged by the quick spreading toxins in our society, or will you apply the safe zone of kindness each and every day to make a difference in your world?
Keep on keeping on!