April 10, 2009

4/11/09 It's Cool to be Kind

by C. Davaa, Shendrup Ling director

"My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."
His Holiness the Dalai Lama

International Day To Be Kind was the creation of the staff at Loving Kindness Peaceful Youth (LKPY), the non-religious international peace organization, to be celebrated on 313 or the 31st of March in what they hope will be the first of many annual events promoting 'kindness'.

The LKPY concept was first conceived in 1999 by Lama Zopa, a Buddhist Lama who travels the world promoting peace, when he learned of the Columbine High School massacre on the news. Lama Zopa listened to many experts explaining the cause of such a tragedy. Everyone talked about the external factors - such as violent video games, department stores selling bullets, access to guns and bullying. These were all contributing factors of course. However no-one talked about how to heal internally, through love and kindness to both yourself and others. So, to promote this idea of kindness to youth everywhere, LKPY was born.

It's too early to tell how many organizations in how many countries celebrated this first International Day To Be Kind but Ulaanbaatar, capital city of Mongolia where almost half of the country's 3 million people live, is happy to be one of the celebrations pioneers. Mrs. Baigalmaa, coordinator for Childrens’ Development Program (CDP) of the “Lamp of the Path” NGO and Jim Damico, a volunteer for the Shedrup Ling Center of FPMT Mongolia were just the right people to come up with ideas to promote and celebrate the International Day To Be Kind here in Mongolia.

The tough question for the staff was 'How to celebrate Be Kind Day?' After careful thinking Mrs.Baigalmaa told others that it would be quite interesting to see responses towards a 'day to be kind' from children of various ages, to see how they describe and express kindness. “Mostly, children are fond of making paper crafts and drawings while teenagers are keen to express their thoughts and opinions through other types of media.” Mrs. Baigalmaa told to her colleagues. "Let’s see how kids express 'kindness' through drawing, paper crafts and essays."

The team worked on new posters with the 'Be Kind' ideas translated into Mongolian and placed them in several area schools, including orphanage. As the deadline approached, the staff were almost overwhelmed with submissions from so many children and from so many different places including the countryside. The team received more than 130 entries. Children age of 7-10 years had an opportunity to send in drawings, while 11-15 year old kids did paper crafts. The teenagers, 15-18, wrote essays about their thoughts on kindness.

As can be imagined, selecting the best works from so many was quite intense for the staff. Ten year old Enkhtushig's drawing expressed that caring and giving support were ways to be kind. He also described that kindness for him meant being with his family. The winner of paper crafts described the traditional living style of Mongolians and how families support each other. Over half of the entries came from orphanage children. The winner of essay competition S.Enkhbulgan wrote that “kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the dumb can speak” and further said that “kindness exits in the very deep in our hearts and it is shapeless, colorless and it doesn’t have any smell. That’s why kindness can be only expressed by ones’ actions and speech”. She has been living in an orphanage for many years but the strength and warmth of her words show she knows kindness both as a receiver and giver.

A selection of the drawings, paper crafts and essays will be on public display in the 'Stupa Cafe' of Shendrup Ling. Visit the cafe and see how the children's work showed their profound understanding of kindness. Maybe the children's viewpoint will remind us of something so many adults might have forgotten, the art of being kind. Remember to mark your calender to help celebrate Be Kind Day next year on 31st of March so you won't loose a chance to join us.

A little song and dance

A skit about kindness

Some of the art works

Showing the best drawing

Enkhbulgan reads her essay

Davaa & Glenda at the orphanage

A little girl reciting poetry

Glenda with our bilingual poster