By Emily Jones
Emily Jones is a senior in our undergraduate program. As the holiday craze commences, Emily focuses on an important virtue – kindness. Here, she shares why she chose to study philanthropy, her thoughts on kindness, and how she wants to make an impact.
For as long as I can remember, I have had a passion for and dedication to philanthropy.
From an early age, the one constant in my array of many ambitions has been altruism; above all else, I’ve known that I have to help people. The only question then became how I would go about it. To be honest, I still do not quite know the answer.
As a student of philanthropy, I have studied and continue to study a variety of disciplines, including but not limited to social justice, oppression, race relations, cyclical poverty, ethics, grant-making to address community needs, advocacy, social movements, gender equality, volunteerism, civil society, and public policy.
Daily I learn about the needs of our local and global community and how they might best be addressed; still, somehow it is not becoming any easier to be optimistic about finding solutions to these deep-rooted issues, at least not in my lifetime. There is, however, one concept that gives me hope, a virtue that I believe we severely underestimate in our world today: kindness.
Kindness is a revolutionary, transformational force. It has the ability to heal our deepest hurts. It is the bedrock of friendship, the key to understanding, the catalyst for compassion, the impetus for empathy, and the foundation of tolerance. Kindness is where philanthropy begins, where altruism is truly born. It serves as a single thread that pulls all of us together, uniting us in our humanity, and reminding us of our inherent dignity.
When we choose to share our hearts and souls with one another through these every day acts of benevolence, we are able to transcend social boundaries, cultural differences, and economic barriers. When we choose to be kind, to help someone in need, to smile at a stranger, to ask “how are you” anticipating a real answer, we are transforming the climate of our world one act at a time.
It is no secret that the current mood of our nation and our world is less than optimistic. Every day we are bombarded with news stories from around the world of suffering, pain, loss, and injustice. Some of us are among the distressed, with our own personal battles raging even as the holiday season is upon us. The truth is most of us have no idea what is going on in the lives of the people who surround us every day. But what could we possibly do to help?
Be kind! Spread kindness like peanut butter or cream cheese or Nutella or whatever sweet condiment you prefer. We have all heard the expression “kill them with kindness,” an expression usually referring to being overly nice to those who would do us harm, but this expression should not be limited to our enemies.
We need to “kill” everyone with kindness, using kindness as a weapon for our defense against the cruelties and injustices of this world and as a way to revive hope. Rather than falling into despair, we must find purpose in our service and benevolence towards one another.
The inherent goodness of humankind and the kindness we show one another should remind us every day that life is worth living – if not for ourselves, then for others.
This is the impact I want to make. As simplistic as it may sound, kindness is transformative and it is contagious. The little things that we do for our fellow classmates, colleagues, friends, family, and strangers make a big difference.
So today, join me and make the cognitive choice to be kind to yourself, others, and the communities to which you belong. Take that extra 10 seconds to hold a door for someone, let a car in during a traffic jam, pay for the person behind you in line at Starbucks, drop a dollar in the Salvation Army bucket, thank your grocery clerk and wish them a good day, write your service provider an encouraging message; the list goes on and on.
We can all do something to bring a little more light into our existence; let’s relentlessly make this world a little less dark one act of kindness at a time!