I've been thinking a lot about what's going on in our world - and imagine you have too. I kept wondering, "What can I do that might help?" and was moved to write this about how we can make up our mind to be kind.
I welcome your insights.
Do you ever get discouraged by man’s inhumanity to man?
It can be discouraging to watch the news and witness yet another tragedy, scandal or man-made disaster.
Yet complaining about it, or being outraged by it, hurts rather than helps … unless we actively try to improve it.
The thing is, we don’t always have the ability to change what’s happening on the world stage. We feel powerless to fix what’s wrong, to make things better.
The good news is, there are ways to make things better.
Paying attention to, and contributing to, what’s right with the world can make things better for us and everyone around us.
As Jose Ortega y Gasset said, “Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.”
The challenge is, many of us have become so stressed, so angry, we no longer even notice what’s right with the world; we no longer even see man’s HUMANITY to man.
This point was brilliantly made in an article by Gene Weingarten in the Washington Post. I remember reading Pearls Before Breakfast on a Sunday morning years ago and was so inspired, I set the magazine down and said out loud, “Just give the man the Pulitzer.”
Weingarten wondered, “What would happen if you took a renowned violinist and positioned him inside a D.C Metro Stop during morning rush hour?
What if you asked him to play six compositions, each masterpieces that have endured for centuries, on a rare Stradivarius?
Would any of the hundreds of people streaming by take a moment to pay attention to a free concert by one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written, on one of the most valuable violins ever made?”
Guess what happened?
In the forty-five minutes Joshua Bell played, (yes, the multi-talented Joshua Bell who packs them in at concert halls around the globe), only 7 (!) people took a moment away from their rush-hour commute to listen to his performance.
The other 1070 people all rushed by, seemingly oblivious to the miracle in their midst.
Weingarten’s point? Have we become so uptight and driven that we have lost the ability to see the beauty around us? He quoted W.H. Davies who said, “What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stop and stare."
Weingarten made another stunning observation, “There was no demographic pattern to distinguish the few people who paused to listen except … every time a child walked past, s/he tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.”
Hmmm. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Kudos to Gene Weingarten for his visionary social experiment. (And he did get a Pulitzer for it). Please take the time to read Pearls Before Breakfast and ask yourself:
· Would I have paused and taken a moment to listen to Bell?
· Why or why not?
· Have I become inured to the beauty around me?
· At what cost?
· What can I do to be more attentive to, and appreciative of, the beauty in the world?
Starting today, instead of dwelling on or obsessing about the news, which primarily reports man’s inhumanity to man, choose to give your attention to what’s uplifting, inspiring and enlightening.
Keep your antenna up for examples of humankind – man’s humanity to man.
Notice and thank the people who are making a positive difference … the parents, teachers, entrepreneurs, servers, community leaders who treat others with respect and are dedicated to living in integrity and adding value.
When we choose to honor and BE humanKIND – we expand it. And when we expand it, we make it more of the norm. And isn't that what we all want?
Want another example of humanKIND?
Have you ever had the chicken-skin experience of singing in a choir or hearing a concert of hundreds of voices lifted in song?
Well, composer Eric Whitacre thought, “What if I gathered people from 73 countries around the world – online – and conducted a virtual choir with thousands of people all singing the same song at the same time?”
Take a few moments to listen to the transcendent results of Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 2 “Water Night.”
Do it right now. Don’t pass by this shining example of man’s humanity to man. Act on your insight from Weingarten's article. Bring some beauty into your life now, not someday.
I promise, for the moments you listen to this, you will be immersed in what’s right with our world - right here, right now.
You will be swept up in the joy of human harmony.
You will see the world in a more positive, proactive, high-potential light.
And when you do that, when you celebrate and share what’s beautiful in the world, when you make up your mind to be kind, you create a rising tide raising all humanKIND.
And that benefits all of us.