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Sunday, 19 May 2019

Breaking the cycle of unkindness

Kindness Changes Everything

They say that kindness begets kindness. The same can be said for unkindness; that unkindness begets unkindness.

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The boss of an SME wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. Her employee submits a piece of work that he has spent the entire weekend working on; but has made a slight oversight on the calculations. She throws the stack of paper back to him and tells him not to bother submitting such "subpar work".

The employee goes back home in the evening. He is no longer an employee but a father. Sitting down at the dinner table with his wife and kids leaves a warm, comforting sensation in his chest, assuring him that the disappointment he faces at work is all worth it. But then, his twelve-year-old son starts complaining that dad is never there at his basketball games. Dad feels that he has failed as a father and yells at his son for being unappreciative of what is doing for the family, in spite of knowing that his son has no malicious intentions.

At school the next day, the son is no longer a son but a student, and a classmate. His fellow classmate cracks his usual (insensitive) jokes but today - somehow just today - he isn't amused. In fact, he is pissed off. He slams the table and spends recess alone, leaving his classmate puzzled and slightly hurt.

The fellow classmate returns home after school. He is no longer a student or classmate but a son. Mum gets home in the evening and asks the same question that she asks every day, "How was your day?"

"Don't wanna talk about it," son replies.

"Why not?" mum asks, concerned.

"I said, I don't wanna talk about it!" son exclaims, leaving his dinner unfinished.

Mum feels frustrated, not knowing how she could better communicate with her son. She rests her head on her pillow and thinks about her busy schedule at work the next day. Tomorrow morning, she is no longer a mother but the boss of an SME. She feels relieved that at least, she has competent employees in her office.

The boss of an SME wakes up on the wrong side of the bed...

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I believe that innately, most people have the capacity for kindness. Just that along the way, life throws us lemons and we become more and more sour with each nasty encounter. We then become nasty people ourselves. But sometimes, all it takes to break this cycle of unkindness is an unsung hero who decides to go against the grain and chooses to be kind in spite of the unkindness that has been showed to him or her.

History is littered with examples of such people. From Jesus, to Mother Theresa, to Buddha. I'm no Saint but I guess having a timely reminder to be kind can make the world a better place; and myself, a happier person.

Happy Vesak Day, to all my Buddhist friends.  

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