Since I can remember, I have always felt that the reason for most problems in the world is due to the lack of love and care. Growing up without any parental affection, emotional attachment or sense of security can cause a variety of emotional and mental issues such as a detachment to others, feeling of seeking revenge, self-pity and more. Often, the reason that someone has anger issues, executes an act of violence or is closed-off from others is rooted from that emotional deprivation.
In my previous post I mentioned the environment we grow up in impacts our decision-making and emotional behavior later. Since we were born, we needed the touch of our mother, the individual care of parents and the assurance of knowing that someone is protecting us. These actions alone help in the development of our mind and body. Therefore, the absence of these actions inhibits such growth.
The way our parents treated us is the way we know how to treat others. If our parents were constantly yelling at us or were absent from our lives completely, that often affects the way we react to future situations, though, obviously, there are exceptions. Children who are physically or mentally punished or abused through anger are more likely to become violent themselves. For example, common traits of violent people are: dysfunctional home environment, childhood abuse and lack of friends, to name a few.
I was lucky enough to attend a session hosted by an intelligent and eloquent kindness advocate, Houston Kraft, recently. Kraft had mentioned a few things that I personally believe in so deeply. He stated that there are two things that are true:
- Every single living being deserves to feel they belong here. They deserve the feeling of acceptance and love.
- We are all capable of making others feel loved.
What I took from it is that each person here on this Earth is the same as you and I. They were born, they live and they will die. They are capable of growth, emotion, happiness and pain. They feel and we can make them feel. They have a heartbeat and a soul. We are all connected in this strange universal way. Yet, many times there is a total disconnect.
When I was in India in January 2014, I visited the city area where it was packed with hundreds and hundreds of people who were all there to shop. It was so busy, in fact, that you could barely get some steps in before bumping into a few people. I was warned ahead of time to keep my belongings close to me as pickpocketing was very common there. The day I went was the day a really big Bollywood star was in town, Amitabh Bachchan. I was already in the area he was so I thought why not go take a picture of him? The crowd was outrageous and going berserk over him while the local police were pushing and hitting everyone to maintain distance. I went a little closer to take a quick photo of him on my phone and the second I did that, I looked down at my purse and it was open. My newly bought Nikon camera and wallet were gone.
I panicked. I had never been pickpocketed before. I didn’t think it would happen to me and I was in so much shock, not because my camera and wallet were stolen, but because the trust I had that someone wouldn’t do this to me was betrayed. The family I was with all said the same thing – people are like this, what did you expect? And yes, they may have been partially right, SOME people are like this but one lady was most definitely not.
This older lady whose family owned a shop down the street saw me bawling. She held my hand and led me through the crazy, wild crowd to her small, rusty utensils shop. She told me to sit on her wooden stool as she fetched me water to wash my face. She gave me words of encouragement for 30 minutes and did everything in her power to make me, a random stranger crying in the streets, feel better. One thing in particular she said to me was that maybe that robber needed the money more than I needed it. And that statement made me ponder. She was right – maybe he needed it more than I did. Maybe he was desperate. Or maybe he was never taught right from wrong. These thoughts gave me a whole new perspective and calmed me down. We don’t live in a perfect society. We have a lot of issues we hear about and deal with daily. But if we all started showing a little more compassion towards one another and made an effort to understand one another, the overall problems would reduce. This older lady uplifted me and provided me clarity in just that one act of kindness and to this day, I remember the compassion and care she showed me so clearly.
Throughout our lives, we see the homeless on the streets, barely surviving. We see colleagues who are easily set off. We see a classmate who spends his lunchtime alone. We see a stranger crying silently in the corner. We see friends unwilling to open up to us. We see resentful people on the news who execute some act of violence.
Kraft stated the issue with this world is that we have patience when we have time. We love when it is convenient. We respect others when we agree with them. We do what we do when it is convenient for us. We stop and talk to the homeless when we are waiting for the streetlight to turn green. We understand the angry coworker when we ourselves are in the mood. We approach the crying stranger only when it is comfortable for us. We try to press our friends about opening up about personal issues when we have time to listen. We understand the violent actions only when we have some personal experience with it. We exude love and care if and only when it is convenient to our own time and schedule. Otherwise it is an inconvenience.
We remember only a small fraction of our day to day scenarios, and in the long term, only retain an even smaller percentage of our entire life. The memories we are more likely to remember are the ones that make us feel a strong emotion – pain, embarrassment, anger and LOVE. To us, asking a friend how they are or making the effort to approach the crying stranger may seem like a small, insignificant gesture, but to them it could be a part of the fraction of memory they cling on to. With love and compassion comes a commitment to surrendering your own time, happiness and convenience but in the end, it is worth it. Sometimes people just need to know there are others out there on their side rooting for them.
Love is powerful. It has the ability to mend even the most broken and lost souls. And the best part of about it is that we all have the capability to provide it. It is within us to feel and make others feel this strong, beautiful emotion.
As Kraft concluded in his speech: love when it is the least convenient.
It will make the world a better place to live in for all of us.
Read my next post: Why we are small, yet significant
Read my previous post: The power of a compliment