Casablanca- When was the last time you helped an elderly man cross the road? You can’t even recall, can you? We have become so self-interest-ridden today that displaying any act of kindness feels like the hardest thing to do. Recently, a Moroccan policewoman reminded us of those little acts that “count the most.”
The picture of a policewoman helping an elderly man to cross the road has recently gone viral on Moroccan social networks, stirring varying reactions: mostly sympathetic and nostalgic. Why would such a picture go viral? And why would it draw so much attention?
Well, acts of kindness ostensibly raise eyebrows more than the acts of cruelty and callousness we witness nowadays. Is it because we value time so much that we cannot devote a few minutes to display an act of kindness? Unless we are all Spidermen and Cat Women and are already doing something of unquantifiable importance, I can’t really think of something that holds us back from performing acts of kindness.
Acts of kindness range from those that don’t even take 10 seconds to those that are long-term projects. When was the last time you watered your busy neighbor’s plants without him requesting? When was the last time you smiled at a random passerby? Oh no, I’m so busy figuring out what my boss will say when I step into my office that I can’t stop and appreciate a nice view! But yes, that’s also an act of kindness!
Acts of kindness are ironically less difficult when they are self-oriented, when we ourselves are the receivers—this is an idea that we need to eradicate now! Have you ever asked yourself why certain people feel so delighted after performing an act of kindness? Well, if you think about it, you’re going to realize that acts of kindness are a two-way process.
The reason why we refrain from displaying kindness towards strangers is because of our ego-centric “self” lurking somewhere inside of us. It asks that haunting question, “What’s the point if you’re getting nothing in return?” Well, that question is completely misinformed. We get at least as many, if not more, benefits as those who are the targets of our kindness.
I know it may sound like a situational oxymoron, but when we do things for the benefit of others, we are both the givers and the receivers. If you think that the act of giving is analogous to dispossessing, then you’ve never been so wrong! This is why we don’t give much nowadays. It is because we feel like we are being dispossessed when we give things without getting anything in return.
The reasons behind this feeling are multifarious and can be manifested in everything we do or are exposed to on a daily basis. It would take me many articles to cast light on some of the things responsible for this feeling. However, what matters most is not where that feeling comes from, but how we can stop thinking like this once and for all.
Just think of it this way: when you give, you’re not being dispossessed, and it’s not a one-way process. When I perform an act of kindness, I’m both the giver and the receiver. Can you see the smile on the police officer’s face as she asks the car drivers on her right to pause for moment as she helps an elderly man get to other side of the road? That smile is one of the things she got in return.
Think of acts of kindness simply as shopping! Your eyes fall on something you like, you grab it, take it straight to the shopkeeper, and pay for it without feeling dispossessed. Why? Because you’re getting the thing you like in return for your money. All of us like to feel useful, don’t we? Well, that feeling of being useful boosts our self-esteem—and what could be more important than self-esteem?
Acts of kindness make sense of our existence, which may feel irrational and absurd at times. Even in Waiting for Godot, a drama with one of the most bizarre circumstances one would ever think of, Estragon can’t live without Vladimir!
Even when the self seems to be the only thing worthy of being the “center of interest,” we can’t live without the other, because the other is ourselves. This is why some people feel delighted when they give things to the other without asking for anything in return. In reality, they’re giving things to themselves.
Edited by Katrina Bushko
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