Updated: Feb 13, 2020
What place do kindness and compassion have in today's world? In ancient times, people do not need to work long hours, hence they have time to further develop themselves. People in the past had more time to interact with people as there were not many things to do during the day. Jobs in the past were interactive in nature, and people in town know each other. Now, with economic advancement, we may need to work long hours, and hence have little time for ourselves. Furthermore, we become absorbed in work that we need personal cubicles. While this certainly makes us more productive, there are downsides too. We will develop a habit of becoming oblivious to our surroundings and being indifferent towards events happening around us. The trend has definitely changed over time. Hence do we still need kindness and compassion today?
Yes, we need more kindness and compassion because times changed and that we are more connected globally that kindness and compassion are more important. We are globally connected to people in other cities, countries, and continents, and even people who are working in space. While our physical distance may be further than before, our psychological distance becomes more important. However, we tend to forget about these qualities as we become economically developed. Miscommunication between parties can bring about disasters; withheld information and misinformation can bring about distrust between people; conflicts between nations brought chaos in the region; disagreements between people brought about unwanted arguments; discrimination between different races brought disasters in the society; intolerance between different religions has caused so many misfortunes.
Fear, no ease, senselessness then became the norm in many countries. For example, we see wars between nations on the news, wondering why do they have to go to such lengths. We hear discord between people, unable to fathom why people cannot get along; we even witness hatred among people in the form of violence, wishing that there could be peace in the community. Sometimes, we are caught in these situations, and experience fear and anxiety firsthand. How then, can we embrace all these people who have fear, hatred, anger, indifference, senselessness, and anxiety?
Therefore, kindness and compassion are very important at this time. We can show kindness and compassion to everyone by embracing them with four means: generosity, kind words, altruism, and empathy. These are actually skillful means we could use to liberate people from fear. Broadly speaking, generosity aids us in forming good affinities with others as well as opening ourselves to others. In this manner, people will trust us more. Kind words could inspire people by giving them courage and confidence. Altruism shows our selflessness, and empathy conveys the spirit of unity. We can practice all these at once even with a simple action. For example, by lending our hands for those who are running away from an ablaze town, we are sacrificing our lives to help others who have fear of not escaping the fire. At the same time, we empathize with them because we know the pain of the burn. Our kind words such as, "you're safe now, please have some water" gives them hope and courage to survive. All in all, we also formed good affinities with them and the rescue team. We can also extend these four means to all beings.
This is a short elaboration of how we can show kindness and compassion in this age. As we only brushed through the Four Means of Embracing, we will discuss more on them in the next few series.