By Christine Baker
Nyack, NY, USA
Christine Baker and Jessie
Walls. We all have them. And I’m not talking bricks and mortar. I’m talking about the invisible bubble we put around ourselves each and every day to protect ourselves from the onslaught of daily life. The trouble with walls is that once you put them up, you can’t pick and choose what comes in and what doesn’t. A wall is a wall is a wall.
I’ve been talking to a lot of students these days - from kindergarten to college and everything in between. There is a simple reason why Walk4Good resonates with young people: they haven’t yet learned how to put the walls up. As a result, they are much more open to the idea of being kind to others.
Walk4Good was founded on the basic principle of practicing kindness. It sounds so easy, but it requires people (i.e. grown-ups) to let their guard down and tear down a wall or two. That is the hard part. When we are children, we are wide open to the world around us. We let wonder in. We allow ourselves to daydream, to imagine, to hope and to create without judgment. But as we get older, our experiences (the bad ones) teach us to close up like a clam and keep the world out so we can be protected. We’ve all seen these people riding the subways, walking down the street, standing in line, or sitting in traffic with a vacant, hollow expression. They look like cardboard cutouts where real humans being used to be. You have to ask yourself: Are you one of those cardboard cutouts?
When we keep the world out, we keep the goodness out. When we prohibit kindness, we block out hope, we shatter daydreams and we stunt creativity. As a result, goodness, love, hope and dreams cannot find a way in. Don’t get me wrong; I know that we cannot leave ourselves wide open all the time, naked and blowing in the wind. We’ve all known what it feels like to be hurt by friends, lovers, co-workers and family. So what is the answer? Should we close up completely so we never feel hurt again? I say, quite simply, no, that is not the answer at all.
Today is the day to tear down a wall or two in your own life. Find a crack to let the sun shine through and realize that, on this day, you can change. On this day, you can be different than you were an hour ago, or a year ago. The beauty of being human is that we have the capacity for change and renewal. And so on this day, I am asking you to take the blinders off. Tear down the walls and try to open yourself up to the possibility of goodness. When you do, you will see life in an entirely new way. You will come to understand that by being open, you can really see the people around you. When you can see a person, you can connect with that person. When you connect, hate goes out the window and kindness finds its way in.
This is all I ask: Don’t be a clam. Be a butterfly. Let kindness find its way into your heart and into your life.