Someone recently asked me, “What do you worry about?” I worry that we will forget to be kind.

Susan Lebel Young, a retired psychotherapist and mindfulness teacher, is the author of three books. Her latest is “Grandkids as Gurus: Lessons for Grownups.” Learn more at or email [email protected]

At the end of his broadcast, Lester Holt urges, “Take care of yourselves and each other.” Sometimes I hear it as “Take care of eeee chuthur.” Sometimes I laugh. Then I realize that I worry about this exact thing. Mocking Lester Holt, a brilliant man whom I admire, for how he pronounces his blessings to us is not kind.

Does the hatred, anger, war and killing reported and repeated on TV stir up unkindness? Perhaps the inner heart closes as we watch. Closed inner hearts then go into the world and trigger outer unkindness. I worry about what and how we teach our children and grandchildren. When we so need to care for “eeee chuthur,” I worry that we learn unkindness simply by living in this culture.

Those fears grip me until I remember how teachers say friendliness can start within each of us (eee chuvus); that to learn to be kind to others we must concurrently train in self-kindness.

Here’s what I mean. Years ago, I walked into a bookstore to “have my aura read.” Negative self-judgments exploded. “How stupid. I can’t tell anyone. What a hoax. How dumb to fall for this, to pay for this. This will show nothing. Or I’ll have a black aura, which will indicate that I have a deadbeat spirit. Or maybe the aura photo will be blurry which would mean I live too confused for the aura-reading machine to show any clarity.”

Ouch. Not kind to myself.

Then a young, 20-something with purple hair and a sleeve of tattoos on both arms, one tattoo of Gandhi’s face and another the universal “om” image, bopped into the tiny aura-reading chamber. My mind ranted, “What have I done? There is no way she can understand a 60-plus-year-old woman.” Not kind to her.

The machine snapped, clicked, then printed a picture of my aura. “Beautiful,” the young woman smiled with her whole face, tender eyes and a gentle nod. The snapshot showed no black; it glistened with indigo, royal blue and other sweet colors. She continued, “You have loving qualities of heart. These colors prove you radiate personal warmth and exude kindness.”

That word again: kindness. I softened. I stopped looking for faults in me and in her.

She ended with, “You must see the good in you to see it in others.”

Oh, others. I admit I don’t always feel kindness for or see kindness in political leaders who, in the midst of a global pandemic, won’t advocate for vaccines, who had refused to wear masks, who refute scientists, who yell at those they call their “friends” across the aisle. They act unkind, people follow them, their followers pick up unkindness. I work on feeling kindness toward them. I do. Really. But it’s hard. I worry about that lack of kindness, theirs and mine. How can we survive as a people, as a nation, without kindness?

What if I start with inhaling my own beautiful, light-filled aura? Will that help me see the goodness in “the other” rather than what seems to be the dark in them?

I don’t know how to stop gut-wrenching worry about our forgetting to be kind unless I start remembering to be kind. If we practice that inner and outer kindness and pass it on, will our grandchildren defend kindness long into adulthood, as one of mine did when he was 4 years old: “Why can’t people be nice? Why would anyone be mean?”

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