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Simple kindness | COMMENT | Las Vegas Review-Journal

Our lives are so complicated that it’s hard to remember the power of kindness. We are all busy and we all have our own pressures, challenges and even demons. It is too easy to descend entirely into ourselves. We all need to take a step back and remember that we can always be kind to others.

The COVID pandemic has made things even more difficult. We all had to limit our contact with others for more than two years. And COVID cases are increasing right now. What does it mean to try to live this? We can all be a little suspicious of each other under normal circumstances – and circumstances are far from normal. Have we forgotten how to live with each other? Maybe.

And beyond that, we have all seen how political extremism has made matters worse. Our society is deeply polarized and full of conflict. We have lost the trust that was once part of our society. All of this makes us vulnerable. And it’s too easy to dismiss the pain of others.

Now is the time for kindness, and yet we see people giving in to anger and frustration all around us. We are a rabid country. On a recent trip to the grocery store, a man started yelling at my wife for touching grapes to see if they were fresh. He was out of control. He couldn’t think straight and he had no respect for fruit or what might happen in other people’s lives.

I’m not preaching to you to be more religious. Many religions advocate kindness, but even if you reject all religion, you know that kindness helps us all. And I need to remember that just as much as you do. I don’t tend to get angry, but I tend to judge people too quickly and can ignore other people’s pain. I have to do better. We all need to do better.

What is kindness, anyway? I would define it as the act of acknowledging that someone else matters. It doesn’t mean we have to agree with the way someone else lives or the decisions someone else makes. It just means we want others to know they matter.

Sometimes we fail to be kind to our loved ones. We are impatient with our husbands or wives, we neglect our brothers and sisters. We fail to reach out to our children or our friends. We may even know they need attention, but we’re busy. We have our own problems. We wonder why others aren’t nice to us, but we don’t always think we should be nice to others.

And in my opinion, kindness does not necessarily imply being friendly. We can be nice to complete strangers without considering them friends. We might not even want to be friends with them. But they still deserve a little kindness.

And this is true for everyone. Their lives are important to the fabric of the universe, even if they are poor or damaged, or even if they have made regrettable life choices – even if they belong to a different political party.

I wouldn’t even identify kindness as the most important thing in the world. I think justice is more important. And I would place wisdom above kindness. But kindness matters, and sometimes we need it more than anything. Sometimes we might need it to survive another day. And you can be the person reaching out to make it happen. This is an absolutely incredible thought. You have the power to make a real difference in someone’s life.

What is an act of kindness? There is no way to define it. Each act is unique in time, place and circumstances. It cannot be defined, but it will escape us if we are not open to the world around us. We will not notice the person who needs kindness. So the first step is to be aware of others and pay attention to their needs. We have to get out of ourselves before we can go to others.

Did I say something really new here? I doubt. But it’s easy to lose sight of things we know, so a gentle reminder is always a good thing. And after reaching out to someone else with kindness, remember to be kind to yourself as well.

Solomon D. Stevens is the author of “Religion, Politics, and the Law” (co-authored with Peter Schotten) and “Challenges to Peace in the Middle East”. He wrote this for