Choose to be kind

It’s Tuesday evening and I’ve just finished work. Stepping out from the clattering subway trains and into the streets of Times Square, I’m immediately greeted by the cacophony of honks and horns of busy Manhattan traffic as drivers squeeze their way around the congested streets. I attempt to cross a sidewalk but a yellow cab edges uncomfortably close, threatening to cut me off under a moment’s hesitation. I lock eyes with the driver in a silent challenge, both of us trying to determine the other’s resolve. In the distance, I can hear the siren of an ambulance trying to carve its path through the indifferent crowd. With a resigned smile, I yield and let the car pass.

The world can seem cruel and unforgiving at times. Schoolyards echoing with insults, office spaces thick with scheming, relationships fraying under deceit—these shadows follow us through life. Despite how innocent and kind we are at birth, with each poisoned encounter, a piece of our inherent kindness chips away, replaced by a growing skepticism towards those around us. Life is a cruel teacher, testing you first before teaching you lessons: of how appearance and status often overshadow character, how opportunities can slip away on the whims of others, how hearts can break under the weight of misplaced trust.

We change without realizing it, often becoming the very people we admonish.

But what if we chose not to harden our hearts? In an era where ghosting others has become routine and sincerity is often questioned, is it possible to hold onto our kindness, to offer love freely despite past scars and our innate defense mechanisms?

I’m convinced that beneath the surface, most people harbor a core of goodness. When we approach others with curiosity, respect, and an open mind, the response is often warmth and kindness in return. Jumping to conclusions or treating every interaction as a potential battlefield only perpetuates a cycle of distrust. The outside world is a mirror of your inner one, reflecting to you what you choose to see.

I’ve come to view kindness not as a weakness but as a form of quiet strength, a superpower that can transform lives and relationships. It’s a common trait among the truly successful and content individuals I’ve met—a simple, yet powerful tool for navigating life’s complexities. Kindness has the capacity to mend bridges, open doors, and lighten the burdens we all carry.

In the sprawling, relentless energy of a big city, it’s all too easy to overlook the humanity swirling around us. Each passerby is a universe of hopes, fears, and dreams, each brief exchange a chance to spread a little light. Opting for kindness in a world that often rewards the opposite is a courageous act—a decision to look deeper, to find the spark of potential goodness that exists within us all.

This choice doesn’t imply a disregard for life’s harsher realities. Rather, it’s about confronting these challenges with grace, without losing our empathy and compassion. Best combined with a side of stoicism, it’s understanding that our control is limited to our action and reactions, and using that knowledge to create a better world, one interaction at a time.

Because in the end, the world is a reflection of our collective actions. I want to be remembered not for the success I achieved or the amount of money I made but for the kindness I shared along the way and the impact I had on the lives of others.

I step into my apartment, and the noises of the city subside, replaced by a comforting silence. In a world that can sometimes feel overwhelmingly cold, kindness is the thread that connects us, a reminder that, indeed, we’re all in this together.