Twenty years ago, in 1997, a small conference in Tokyo gave birth to the idea behind the World Kindness Movement. Have you heard of it?
Maybe not, but you’ve probably heard about the whole random acts of kindness trend, where people “pay it forward” by simply being kind to strangers.
Last month in my community in Northern California, as just one example, a person picking up a meal at the drive-through window of a fast-food restaurant randomly decided to pay for the meal of the person in line behind her—who she didn’t and probably wouldn’t ever know. During the rest of that evening, this immediately caught on—every car in the line passed the good deed to the car behind, engaging dozens and dozens of people, until there were no more cars.
The Baha’i teachings, like the teachings of every true Faith, call us all toward kindness:
They that are endued with sincerity and faithfulness should associate with all the peoples and kindreds of the earth with joy and radiance, inasmuch as consorting with people hath promoted and will continue to promote unity and concord, which in turn are conducive to the maintenance of order in the world and to the regeneration of nations. Blessed are such as hold fast to the cord of kindliness and tender mercy and are free from animosity and hatred. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 35.
Put into practice the teaching of Baha’u’llah, that of kindness to all nations. Do not be content with showing friendship in words alone, let your heart burn with loving kindness for all who may cross your path. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 16.
… ye must show forth tenderness and love to every human being, even to your enemies, and welcome them all with unalloyed friendship, good cheer, and loving-kindness. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 20.
Kindness to others can be a great source of joy and happiness for everyone involved. Perhaps that’s why these sorts of kindness-related activities have started to spread all over the world, and have begun to crystallize into identifiable movements that honor and promote the power of pure kindness.
The World Kindness Movement, after its start at that Tokyo conference two decades ago, seeks to connect NGOs and nations around the world to a universal kindness cause that go beyond political or religious affiliations.
So far, twenty-eight nations have joined the movement: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, India, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Romania, Scotland, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and six member organizations in the USA.
Today, November 13th, is World Kindness Day, a growing international observance that encourages individuals and countries from around the globe to celebrate kind-hearted acts, inspire people towards greater kindness and connect nations to create a kinder world.
So what will you do for World Kindness Day?