Sunday, September 19, 2010

Being Kind

The first rule in kindergarten is: Be Safe. The second rule in kindergarten is: Be Happy. The third (and final) rule in kindergarten is: Be Kind. These three rules work together to create a classroom community that I can look forward to joining each school day.

The third rule, Be Kind, helps to establish the conditions for Happiness to arise in kindergarten.

That fact that kindness—not consumption—leads to happiness is a truth that we can easily forget in our hyper-individualistic, consumerist culture.

Yes, we are all at least partially aware that owning stuff does not make us happy. Yet corporate media enchants us with an endless stream of skillful advertising that leads us down their fake road to an apparition of happiness, much as Pinocchio was lured onto Donkey Island. Like the wooden puppet, we may believe the Fox lie.

We chase after raises, new cars, promotions, whatever money can buy, even though we probably know, deep down, as John Lennon pointed out, that “All We Need is Love.”

Notwithstanding a Beatle’s wisdom, I’ve found the Dalai Lama to provide what for me is the most useful reminder. He says, quite simply,

“If you want to be happy, practice compassion. 
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.”

Compassion is a near relation to kindness in the Buddhist view of the world, and, it’s easier for a five year old kindergartner to grasp the idea of being kind than being compassionate.

I first heard of about the wisdom of kindness as a little boy when I heard Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Saint Matthew, Chapter 5. It is still one of my favorite passages of the Bible.

So Be Kind is rule #3 in kindergarten.

If you aren’t sure about how having stuff won’t lead you closer to happiness, read Chapter 5 listed above.

Or watch this movie the Story of Stuff:

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