Changing Perceptions

You could be kind to everyone you meet. If you stop reading now, just do this. Alas, we are selfish. We spend most of our lives thinking about survival — pleasure seeking, pain reducing, fear defining — for ourselves, or people like us.

It's difficult to reconcile our compassion for certain types of people and not for others. Most people recognise that compassion and empathy demands that we don't discriminate who it is for.

Being kind to everyone is hard. Removing the shackles of judgment from years of cultural reinforcement is much harder.

Yet, being kind becomes much easier when you travel from your home country.

You are now the outsider. People will judge you upon on the way you speak, dress, and the way you glance at everyone else like a nervous child. At this precise moment you represent the entire stereotype, open for reinforcement or destruction.

Being kind to everyone is hard. I'm not speaking about making small-talk and being pleasant in an elevator. Kindness is doing the uncomfortable, unexpected, and compassionate things that someone is compelled to tell another about.

When travelling, be kind to the old lady who can't speak English. Be kind to the teenager with a point to prove. Be kind to the maid who is expecting to be treated like a servant.

You'll make their day. More importantly, you will challenge their stereotype of people like you, and might just tell someone else to not be afraid.

Todd Heslin

Todd Heslin

Data Nerd | Entrepreneur | Blogger | Tech Investor

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