There is more to kindness and generosity than the warm feeling it gives us in our hearts. When we give to others, we improve the conditions of the world in which we live.
When suffering and scarcity exist, it affects us all in some way. Whether close friends and relatives, neighbors in the same block, the other side of the city or the other side of the world, it is impossible to shield ourselves entirely from what others experience. Ours is a shared experience.
This is also true with joy and abundance. From the economic ripple effect of our neighbor’s upward mobility to the warm feeling we get when we see the sincere smile of a friend or stranger, when others are uplifted, so are we.
Martin Luther King, Jr. risked his comfort, security, freedom and ultimately his life in his efforts to improve the conditions of all people facing injustice and poverty. He knew that, even with the means to live a comfortable life, he could not while others suffered.
Most of us do not have the strength, faith or desire to make the apparent sacrifices he made, but through his example, we can learn to live more fully and see that kindness is not a sacrifice at all. Though King’s life was short and often stressful, he experienced more hope, joy, passion and true richness than the wealthiest among us.