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Dharma Connect: Philadelphia Proclaims a Day of Kindness

Philadelphia -- long known as the City of Brotherly Love but more (in)famous recently as the city that destroyed a robot that had traveled safely throughout Canada and parts of  Europe -- will hold a Day of Kindness on Oct. 27 to honor the Dalai Lama's visit to the city to receive the Liberty Medal for human rights work and the September visit of Pope Francis.

"Everyone could tell you stories of how they've been treated unkindly," J Nathan Bazzel, executive director of the fledgling Day of Kindness, told philly.com. "There is a need for kindness."
 
The organizers, who include local Buddhist groups, are looking for grassroots participation. Schoolchildren write essays. People tweet kind thoughts. People put money into a parking meter before leaving their space to give the next person a head start. Maybe they give someone a hug or allow another driver to get into line in front of them.

It would have been easy, organizer Elazar Aslan, a board member at the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia and the CEO of Caterfly Solutions, told philly.com. to have the city proclaim a Day of Kindness and leave it at that.

"But the reality of this is not the words," he said. "The reality of this is the actions."

The Dalai Lama has said that "love and kindness are the very basis of society." Imagine if the participants in society expressed that -- in whatever way that moves them. While the website adayofkindness.org will be a hub of organized activities, such as "Love and Kindness in the Wind," an art installation of flags in the city, the bigger intention is to get people to think about kindness and how to incorporate it in their lives.

 "What is kindness? People must define it for themselves," Bazzel said.

And, really, what better place to start than Philadelphia. No matter its current reputation, the city was founded by William Penn as a place of tolerance but high moral standards. In one of his most famous quotes, Penn is clearly unfamiliar with the Buddhist views on reincarnation but captures the emphasis on compassion in action: 

I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now and not defer or neglect it as I shall not pass this way again.

 

You can still join IDP's Metta Month, focusing on lovingkindness, which runs through August. Details here.

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