I have been thinking about women and kindness lately. It has been a VERY busy two weeks (yes that long since I posted) with many insights, thoughts, events and struggles. However, it is the question of kindness and women that seems to be sticking as I finally sit down to write today

As I wrote in a post a few weeks ago, I am in a reading of the play SEVEN. It opens this Saturday. Being with these women on a regular basis has maybe sharpened my attention for how women with a common intention interact. Hearing over and over the stories of the 7 women whose stories we tell has seeped deeply into a well of admiration and respect for women.

Today I heard Rachel Lloyd on the Diane Rehm show, talking about her book Girls Like Us. She is the founder and executive director of GEMS, an organization that helps girls and young women escape the USA sex trade and recover enough to live healthy lives as adult women.

I was as appalled by what is done to young girls as I was humbled, inspired and profoundly grateful for the services and support offered to those same girls. The difference, I couldn’t help but notice, was that those who harmed these female children were mostly men, and those who brought care and love were mostly women.

I also came across this quote by Aldous Huxley:
‘It’s a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one’s life and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than ‘Try to be a little kinder.’ (1894-1963)

Finally, there is the new book by David Brooks, The Social Animal. I have not had time to read it yet but heard him on NPR. I did read his most recent little piece in the NYT on Kindness.

Mmmm…. kindness. What is Kindness?
Synonyms: humane, benevolence, grace, mercy.

I think real kindness requires a couple of things:
• Clear vision; seeing individuals and behavior for what is.
• Courage to accept what is and to speak out.
• Compassion to relate to a person and behavior through an understanding of their unique context.

Kindness comes when we can do all that AND stay in our personal center. In fact only by finding and holding your center can you behave toward another in relation to their behavior without your own agenda or fears coloring that interaction.

So, the remarkable women that I meet each time to do SEVEN are each KIND in their hearts. They exhibit qualities of compassion, courage and clear vision. They have a firm center and sense of self. They bring a determination to transform that kindness into action.

The woman who founded GEMS came through her own story of abuse to realize her given soul and heart – to stand in her kindness in the world.

A line started to tickle through the memory. So I stopped and brought it to the forefront.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity.

I attended a Church of England all girls boarding school in Australia, and the school chapter was 1. Corinthians.13. We all learned it and recited it en mass at any event or function. That was years ago but it is indelibly recorded in my brain and I realize now perhaps in my heart. Certainly as I have explored my connection to spirituality and how to be in the world this resonates far more than it ever did when I was a daffy teenager!

Remember that ‘Charity’ is Love. From WikipediaLove, in this sense of an unlimited loving-kindness towards all others, is held to be the ultimate perfection of the human spirit,

It is worth reading the entirety of Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 13 to begin to really feel what this charity/love/KINDNESS is. The opening passage is particularly applicable in today’s world I think:
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

The women I have been meeting, both literally and figuratively, exhibit the spirit of kindness in their work and personal lives.

Maybe these times of upheaval are an opportunity. Whether or not you subscribe to any of the various 2012 prophecies you must agree some kind of change is underway. Maybe it is a shift to a way of being predicated on kindness and cooperation. Brook’s The Social Animal explored just that theory as rooted in biological imperative. Is it in living cooperatively that we have the best chance of survival? And that means also with our planet as well as all living creatures and forms.

Returning to my roots in Australia there is the Australian Kindness Movement.
Here I read:
When we carry out an act of kindness it is a message from one heart to another, an act of love, an unspoken “I care” statement.

Gender has nothing to do with it really. I have simply been exposed to a wide range of powerful, compassionate, kind women of late. There are many men who are kind and embrace that aspect of their being as they engage in their work and life.

The Australian Kindness Movement site goes in to say:
The world population comprises about 6 billion people. If each of those 6 billion people were to think that they could have a positive influence on enhancing world kindness, there is nothing that could prevent this from happening. Great power is generated when the citizens of the world band together in a common cause. This phenomena has been recently referred to as “the other world power.”

‘Other world power’’ – indeed all indications are that the current one is not working so well. If the male energy of outcome focused competitiveness has underpinned  so much of the formulations and expressions of power for so long then perhaps in is time for a change. It is time for substantial sustained female energy, the power of kindness to lead us forward, in the spirit of cooperation and community.

Ultimately all acts of kindness begin with kindness to self, with open heart and understanding, honesty and compassion. In my work and explorations of personal responsibility and empowerment as articulated by my concept of Personal Magic I have come to know this.

When you reach into your deeper self and meet your full potential, you are at your most empowered. Kindness is a foundational way of being. Kindness is both a function of and basis for strength, truth and wisdom. As the bumper sticker says ‘practice random acts of kindness.’ I add ‘to the extent that it is never random but a constant.’

Kindness can be a way of being in the world, both in your heart and action. Like the sun that rises everyday, the breeze that carries earth particles, the air we breathe, the hum of the solar system, kindness feeds the individual and connects us to something far larger than the self.

Practice constant acts of kindness both in your heart and in your actions. Begin by  being kind to yourself.