Kindness is never a wasted effort.
When we are kind to others, we begin to change and they begin to change. This change may not be immediately observable, by us or those to whom our kindness is directed, but a small change occurs with every exchange of kindness nonetheless. If applied consistently, these infinitesimal, often imperceptible changes have the potential to add up to something dramatic and powerful over time.
We have our work cut out for us if we want this type of change to stick because we are working against many other, equally powerful forces. Within each of us are a hundred forms of fear, selfishness, and prejudice trying to obstruct or reverse every act of good will with a justification or an explanation as to its insignificance. As we get older, as our beliefs and behaviors begin to solidify, these malignant forces become stronger and more resistant to positive change, but that is why we must be dogged and unwavering in our efforts to be kind to and for ourselves and others.
Of course, we will fall short of this ideal. No one can be kind always and in all ways. Each of us will become tired, hurt, offended, frustrated, and frightened at one point or another, or sometimes all at once, in a way that prevents us from being kind or receiving kindness. The key is to find and consistently return to our center, the place within ourselves wherein there is no fear, there is no anger, there is no selfishness, there is only compassion, generosity, and kindness, the place from which positive change ceaselessly emanates.
Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.
All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.
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