Following an interview for Kindfest Philip shares his reflections on kindness, in celebration of #WorldKindnessDay on 13th November.
The other day whilst visiting a supermarket I paused at the trolley queue, patting my pockets, I soon realised I didn’t have the little gold, one pound coin, so essential to access a shopping trolley.
I must have looked temporarily at a loss, because a kind stranger pressed her own pound into my hand. Simply asking that I ‘pass it on’, a phrase that nowadays has increasing resonance and meaning.
There are few of us that don’t understanding that a random act of simple kindness, can make the world a happier place and encourages others to repeat the good deeds they’ve experienced themselves.
It was one of our Patron’s here at Compassion in World Farming, Dr Jane Goodall, who made the powerful statement “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
Compassion Can Guide Acts Of Kindness
Our influence on others is something that is easy to forget. We rarely realise the impact our words can have on recipients, be they directly spoken or in a letter, or email. Every one of us, whatever our age, have our own worries and our own challenges and of course, many are buried deep inside or are hidden. If you knew a work colleague who delivered a sharp response to your query, had recently had a bereavement or learned of an illness, your response would be much more sympathetic. Better still, reaching out with a kind word or gesture can make all the difference.
However, the purest form of kindness may have no audience and offer no credit. Kindness to accumulate thanks is self-serving at best. Some may even say it’s an effort to control or make the recipient feel indebted. But when we are kind even if there’s no such payback, the rewards may be all the sweeter.
What Animals Teach Us
In all my years of working in animal welfare, of having a passion for watching birds, or studying wildlife in the countryside that surrounds my home, I am often moved by the relationship animals have with one another and with other species.
I recall a trip to Sumatra’s lush island rainforests where some of the most majestic creatures I’ve ever laid eyes upon, freely roam. The Sumatran elephant, one of three sub-breeds of Asian Elephant, is smaller than its African cousin — but size is relative. Standing at nine feet tall and weighing five tons, these magnificent mammals are a sight to behold.
They are highly intelligent, emotional, and sophisticated communicators who display fascinating and touching behaviours like sombre rituals to mourn their dead, and celebrations to welcome the birth of new calves.
Watching and listening to animals, I have come to appreciate the complexity of their lives and their struggle for survival. Whether a domestic pet, like our beloved rescue dog Duke, or a wild creature, it’s well known that animals are a wonderful way to teach our children empathy, kindness, and self-esteem. Further, studies have shown that children who regularly interact with animals have higher self-esteem, confidence, less loneliness, and have enhanced social skills.
I strongly believe the world be a better place, if we all looked to the well-being of the least empowered and the voiceless among us?
Be Your Best Self
Perhaps animals can help us understand what it means to be our best selves? But what is that? I believe it is being content to live in the present.
To value relationships with family and to those closest to us. To show empathy and compassion.
To always contribute to a more positive community.
And above all, to value and respect all life on this wonderful planet.