Reading or watching the news can be a depressing business, which is why some smart people I know take breaks from it, as well as breaks from being online, breaks from having their phone on beeping at them all the time, and breaks from social media.
My recent break from all of that was during a recent camping trip. Wonderful! Great weather, lots of wild turkeys (and their babies) around, lots of reading and campfires, and characteristic of the Canadian shield: rock, water and white pines.
Scientists have observed that acts of kindness have a positive effect on not just the recipient, nor just the donor but also anyone who observes the act of kindness!
There is also science that shows we are connected to our extended social networks (i.e. including people we don't actually know) in ways that would have been considered either impossible or magic before. Here is a TEDTalk on that topic by one of the scientists who studied our surprising connectedness:
It was all pretty idyllic until I broke my ankle. A couple of gorgeous afternoons were spent at the hospital while I got x-rayed, examined and eventually fitted with an air-cast – yay! At least it's not a plaster one!
While trying to avoid putting weight on my leg I read and saw too much news including the little drowned Syrian refugee Alan, and the sharply contrasting responses to the refugee crisis by various governments.
It occurred to me (not for the first time) that we have really lost our way, because "out there" in the world everything and everyone gets treated like a commodity, having no inherent value, valued only if they can be monetized and exploited. That the kindness held up as a primary value by most sages and religious beliefs was getting trampled in the rush for money at all costs.
Knowing I couldn't be the only one getting dragged down by the depressing lack of kindness in the world, I decided to devote some of my social media time to spreading messages of kindness using the hashtag #KindnessMatters.
Sometimes I link to videos or other people's stories, sometimes I make my own meme with a quote, like the one above, but everyday I want to put something "out there" that focuses on kindness.
If you find yourself feeling similarly to me, I hope you'll add your voice in spreading #KindnessMatters, whether it's once or once in a while or once a day. We all need reminders of what matters cutting through the noise of all that other stuff "out there".