What We Need to Know When It Gets Bad: Kindness Keeps Us Here

Hey Rodrigo....where did we go?

That was how I sang Van Morrison's Brown Eyed Girl for years until my mom was listening to me one day and began laughing hysterically. "Those aren't the words", she choked out, "Who is Rodrigo??" she teased. I stared at her CERTAIN that those were the lyrics because...that is what I was used to singing. A quick check on the almighty Google showed that I was definitely wrong... "Hey, where did we go...." was the correct words to croon after all. 

It is funny how we believe certain things we have heard time and time again and accept it as truth without delving into it. 

Charles Darwin is most notably known for saying that the continuation of our species will depend on how "fit" a person is. Though he is attributed to saying that....Mr. Herbert Spencer was the the originator of that thought process. Today we think of 'survival of the fittest' as those who are in tip top physical shape and well-being. Physical fitness is defined as the body's ability to function efficiently and effectively in work and leisure activities, to be healthy, to resist disease and to react to emergency situations. However, it is believed what  Spencer and Darwin truly meant is that the "'fittest' referred to here are those animals which are the most suited to their environment, that is, those which are best fitted to survive".

In a world where the news makes you cringe by the violence, the ugliness, and the apathy to these events...you wonder is this how humanity is supposed to act? Is this truly the fittest of us humanity showing us how they will rule the world and dominate our species?

No. Not in the least. 

Even though we are shown over and over that ugly prevails every which way we turn that is a lie we have believed way too long. Even though the ugliness gets the coverage on all the news outlets whether it be television or social media the truth is that most people believe in being kindness and are forces of good in the world. It seems ridiculous when I say that....but I believe in that and know that. Studies have been done over and over to see if we are naturally inclined to be kind and studies show that when something goes wrong we as humans want to help others as much as we can. 

The legendary Mr. Rogers shared in the past that when scary things happened his mother told him to 'Look for the helpers.'

With all the ugliness, natural disasters, pain that are rampant in the world, we unfortunately, have many opportunities to observe that people's first instinct is to be kind and help. Scientific studies have shown that when testing human's automatic reflex, they instinctively help the majority of the time. There is this believed thought  that we would simply be 'selfish' in scary times and only help ourselves and that is not the truth. We are hardwired to be kind

The thing is, even though we are hardwired to be kind, we can at times forget that we belong to each other. We can become jaded by the ugly, by the pain, by the apathy that is all around us and it makes us not want to help one another. But kindness? It keeps us here. We do not survive simply because we may be physically fit as many people erroneously think.  We survive because we adapt, because we help one another, because we choose to innovate and to be kind. The majority of us see problems around us and instead of ignoring them we choose to address them and make life better for everyone. 

Someone physically cannot move? Wheelchair was invented. Someone was in pain during a procedure? Anesthesia and pain meds were developed. It's not all medical breakthrough though. A friend's spouse dies? We bring them food. A child falls? We rush to make sure they are okay. When a tragedy happens? People collectively cry  and are outraged. Natural disasters? There ends up being waiting lines for those who want to help. Someone is scared? We hold their hands. 

What we always thought may not be right. There is no doubt that a species can flourish by being fit and adapting, but it is also important to realize the species will continue to move forward and grow by being kind. Survival of the kindness if you will. 

Hey Rodrigo...where did we go....

"In Darwin's first book about humans, The Descent of Man, and Selection In Relation to Sex from 1871, Darwin argued for "the greater strength of the social or maternal instincts than that of any other instinct or motive." His reasoning was disarmingly intuitive: in our hominid predecessors, communities of more sympathetic individuals were more successful in raising healthier offspring to the age of viability and reproduction -- the sine qua non of evolution."

We are more successful as a whole when we care for each other. 
We are more productive as a community when we remember we belong to each other. 
We are more when we are kind. 

Science aside, although that is hard for me to say, being kind...just feels right. It is rare that we are left feeling like we did something wrong when we have acted out of the love that is in our heart that just wants to be put into the world. 

We won't be able to stop the bad from happening. We won't be able to stop the tragedies. But, we can do what we are naturally good at and be the helpers. 

So when the world is ugly and gross and it feels like nothing is going right....do what you are naturally ingrained to do, be kind. Be the light that is desperately needed. Let the love that you have in you come out and bring joy to others. Whether you are volunteering at your local soup kitchen or you simply smile at someone who looks nervous on their first day at work....remember together we can be the love this world desperately needs. 

I joined up with some amazing bloggers who also had a word (or quite a few) to say about kindness on World Kindness day. Please check out their take:

Karen from Baking in A Tornado shares World Kindness Election Day
Dawn of Cognitive Script shares World Kindness and Elections
Jules of The Bergham Chronicles shares Kindness Matters
Diane of On the Border shares That's How You Were Designed.


  1. I'm going to be laughing about Rodrigo for a long time, and I thank you for that. See, aside from the morality of your thoughtful piece, Jenn, you left me with a smile. Cost you nothing, but I'm grateful. It's just what I needed today.

  2. We def. could use more kindness in the world. Thank you for joining us today. A thoughtful piece and it also made me laugh.


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