I recently read Chronicles: Volume One, Bob Dylan’s excellent autobiography. While the stories behind Dylan’s start in the music business and his extended take on making the album Oh Mercy were fascinating, the one line that has stuck with me the most is something Dylan’s grandmother said to him. She told him to “be kind because everyone you’ll ever meet is fighting a hard battle.”
It’s true isn’t it? We’re all fighting a hard battle. Maybe not right now, but if we’re not fighting a hard battle today, it’s just a pause in the action. Those we like and tend to remember with most fondness are people who have been kind to us, those who have helped us along our way. Like the old saying goes, “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”
One of the interesting things about practicing kindness is that the more we do it, the more we have genuine affection for others. Being kind doesn’t just help others, it changes us and how we see others. C. S. Lewis said, “with all your innumerable choices…you are slowly turning into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself.”
If you want to experience the benefits of being kind, try an experiment. Be intentionally kind to all those you meet. After all, they are fighting a hard battle and we all need some help along our way.