Each week we started our kindness rituals with the question: how has kindness inspired us this week? But this week we didn’t explore kindness…we explored the darkness that enters our lives once the light of kindness has gone out. This exploration allowed us to reflect on how we can stray from our path. I wrote:
Without light there is darkness. A bright light casts away the veil, the hazy, the cloak and the gloom. Even faint light gives us clear enough sight, allowing only shadows to eclipse the uncertain. But what happens when the light goes out?
So, what have we learned from cruelty this week? We learned cruelty is corruptible, as it not only creates, but spreads suffering like a virus. I wrote:
Cruelty is the result of blind behavior or malicious manners that erodes good will and fosters suffering.
We discussed over 40 philosophies of being unkind and cruel, stemming from ignorance, indifference and intent. We explored unkind behavior caused by how we protect, grow or ignore ourselves. We then explored indifference and the difference between being rude, mean and a bully. We discussed the follies of the risk avoidance and faux immortal philosophies. Finally, we gazed into evil intent, and how we become cruelty when we are blind to, lost to or break our values.
And I will conclude our twelfth ritual of kindness with closing thoughts…if cruelty is the opposite of kindness, and we aspire to be kind…why is there cruelty? Where does it come from and what is its reason? Does it live inside all of us…and are we capable of cleansing our souls of its stain? Does it come from something larger than ourselves…like original sin…and eats at what makes us human? Or does it make us who we are and is part of our “human condition?” If you look at all our lessons, we have an answer…
Cruelty exists because we fear death.
Do you agree? We are the only species profoundly aware of death, and this has a ripple effect throughout our lives. Next time you act not like your best self, ask why. Perhaps someone hurt your feelings and you reacted poorly. Ok, why? If you keep asking you may realize your time is limited, so if you do not invest it wisely, or let others abuse it, you will not be fulfilled. If you allow that, you are wasting it and are only racing toward your inevitable end.
Would this change if we lived forever? What if we acted like we did, or if we didn’t fear death? For the final week of our Winter of Kindness, we will explore these “what if” questions in how we ought to live.