Kindness Prologue

The Willow Tree’s Gift is a story about kindness. This topic is personal to me, and I learned through my research on kindness in history, religion, philosophy and sociology that more unites us than divides us. However today it feels there is more divisiveness than ever. This divisiveness can feel scary, so we retreat to places where we feel safe, like our communities. There we are comforted, so much so that we also sometimes shun or even fear other communities, simply because they are different than our own.

It doesn’t have to be this way. I believe the barriers we create by our communities are imaginary. I believe almost everyone is good, but not everyone knows how to be kind. This is because kindness is taught and is a conscious act to help end others’ suffering, regardless of the community we belong. And if that isn’t possible, at least do no harm. This was the book’s genesis. It isn’t intended to be an instruction on kindness, but by better understanding how our attachments influence us, it hopefully instills a lesson.

The protagonist, the little mouse doll, woke one night beneath a willow tree before a storm. The willow tree is in a meadow between two communities: the forest and the farm. Yet, the doll is neither living nor inanimate, a forest or a farm animal: he can never belong to these communities, or anywhere, simply for being what he is. And yet, there is magic to him, like a sunrise or the infinite starry night. It is the kind of magic that makes us accept our place amongst all things; wonders colossal and insignificant, impossible and practical, alive and not. His magic is kindness.

This story is about belonging, differences and why they matter at all. It is about loving ourselves and knowing we’ll always belong when we do. It is about falling in love when it seems impossible, making friends when we least expect it, and standing up for what is right no matter how frightening it may seem.

This story lets us view the world through the polished button eyes of the little mouse doll, challenges our preconceived notions, does so with awe, and sees each moment as a gift when we cherish kindness. I hope you enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed sharing it.

Sebastian A. Barnes
Author of the Willow Tree’s Gift
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