Unified Caring Association (UCA) celebrates caring and acts of kindness. One way is by celebrating the UCA Scholarship winners! Throughout the years we have held many scholarship contests, and are constantly in awe about how caring students are, and what new and innovative ways they bring caring into our communities. We have been blogging about various themes that have arisen in the recent submissions for the Fall 2019 scholarship contest. Many of the submissions had awareness and empathy in common. Below are some caring quotes from the essays and a scholarship essay that displays the unique skills that these caring ambassadors have!
Grace E Shay
“Since I can remember, my mom would recite this mantra to me. She would reference these “secret battles,” when young me was quick to judge another. No matter how many times she recited these words, I didn’t fully understand.
How could someone endure hardship and not wear it on their sleeve? Surely, not everyone can be fighting a battle. I knew a girl at school who was so stereotypically perfect. I had never seen her work for anything. I was sure that she was not fighting any battles. And if this example existed within my range, surely there were more.
So my mind continued on with this thought. I lived in a picture perfect world, I was naive and free of hardship. I selfishly assumed that everyone was the same. I never stopped to consider that there may be more than meets the eye.
One day, the meaning of my mother’s words set in. They didn’t seep in like water. It wasn’t slow and gradual. It was a flood. One day, my mom’s words were engraved into my skin, like a burn left from an open flame. To this day, I have the scar from that burn.
The day it all clicked for me was the day I began fighting a secret battle of my own: one no one knew about.
I was diagnosed with an invisible illness, Type One Diabetes. The disease is relentless. From multiple injections a day, to waking up nightly for low blood sugars, to cutting my favorite foods out of my diet, to seizures and the stigma that surrounds the illness. It was hell and the hell was invisible.
As much as I hate my diagnosis, I know I’m not alone. Sure, I am the only diabetic on my team or at school, but I am not alone. Because everyone is fighting a secret battle. No one is truly alone, our battles may be vastly different. The girl I thought was perfect may not have the most stable home life. Another student may have parents that only see them as a GPA. Another student may not have parents at all.
However vastly different they are, our battles unite us. They create our collective humanity. If we take this “perceived empathy” and apply it to every situation, the world will become a much more caring place.
What if instead of getting annoyed at the lady taking forever in the grocery store checkout line, we considered her perspective? Maybe she has severe social anxiety, and this is a stretch for her? What if she just got a phone call about her dad and is struggling to not break down? You don’t know. Don’t judge. Instead, understand that she may be fighting a secret battle you know nothing about.
I know that when you first read the phrase, “secret battle,” the first that came to your mind was your own. Everyone has had that unique experience. Empathy is learned like wisdom. It can be obtained through conscious effort. That effort, that will leave the world caring and united.”
“In a world of instant gratification and social media it is easy to find yourself isolated from others. Many people believe that young people in this world are not going to be successful because we have so much at our fingertips, yet we do not know how to carry on a face to face conversation. Today’s society is full of people who genuinely care for others, however they go unseen because of all the violence in today’s world. To make the world a more caring place people must start small and then branch out. If I were to change one thing in the world I would be more open to people and to be more caring myself.
Lets face it. However nice it may seem to say, “Oh we can fix the world and make it more caring by [insert colossal change of the world here]”, it is naive and almost impossible. To really change our society to become a more inviting, caring place we need to start small. Even just going through your day and smiling at someone makes a difference because even such a small gesture is sometimes rare in society today. It’s not to say that trying to make the world a more caring place by making a big splash is necessarily a bad thing, but it is more feasible to do small things every day. When people open up even a little, it means they feel safe around that person they shared with. If said person is unresponsive or rude to them, that person will probably never open up to another person. When this happens, the world becomes a more boxed in and closed off than ever. As humans, we are social creatures, but if there is no trust between people, the society will not care about others. A way to remedy this problem is to be someone that people trust and to be attentive to their needs whether it be just listening or giving advice.
Although being a more caring person can be uncomfortable, it is a necessary step in peruste of a more caring world. Often people think “It is so hard to be caring to this person because they have done x, y, or z.” This is exactly the reason to be nice to them because maybe they had a rough day or they just got the bad news that someone close to them died, in essence you have no idea what they are going through and if you are rude just because they were mean to you just perpetuates the cycle of anger and pain. If just one person were to be nice to the person who is mean it may make the difference between life and death. Being the bigger person is always hard because it is human nature to get mad when someone messes with you but it is a necessary step in making the world a better place.
In order to make the world a more caring place, I want to be a light in darkness, to be a smiling face in the crowd and be someone that people feel comfortable to talk with. By striving every day to do a little better than the day before, people can easily make a difference in society and the world.”
“In today’s world, it’s easy to become cynical. Every day on the news and online, we learn about the horrible things people are doing. As we see this more and more, it becomes ingrained, even subconsciously. Many of us start to distrust people as a whole. The very concept of “stranger danger” reflects this. Children are taught from a very young age that strangers aren’t to be trusted.
Public transportation is an excellent example of how deeply ingrained the wariness of strangers is. On subways and buses, striking up a conversation with a stranger is something that rarely happens. People sit as far away as they can from everyone else. In crowds, whether on a subway or at a concert, people are taught to keep an eye on their pockets and valuables.
But the reality is that the chance of being robbed in that way is extremely low. That chance is what scares people though, and it’s what leads us to distrust strangers. But the vast majority of people are perfectly kind. If they’re not willing to strike up a conversation with a stranger, most of them will politely decline. It’s commonplace to hold the door open for strangers, so why aren’t greater things accepted? Something as simple as offering to buy a stranger their morning coffee is looked at askance. People start to expect you want something in return. If someone’s card gets declined at a grocery store and you offer to pay for their $15 of groceries, other people think it’s some sort of scam. Can we not trust other people to be kind because they want to brighten someone’s day?
These sorts of issues are just the expression of the much deeper problem in society: the problem of distrust. There are many factors, everything from the modern connected world to the way children are raised. News sources gain money through watch time and clicks. The best way to get those things? Headlines that scare you into paying attention. Headlines about good or ordinary things don’t captivate our attention the same way.
We can’t change it overnight, but we can do small things now. Pay-it-forward lines in drive-throughs can last for hundreds of cars. Although each person is going to be paying a similar amount, just the thought that a stranger was willing to make their day better is huge. One small act of kindness can, at the very least, make someone’s day less bad, and can even go as far as saving a life.
Every action we take to support one another, however small, reminds us that individuals aren’t the same as the society they seem to make up. They’re better than what we’re led to believe. If we trust in other people, and believe that the vast majority of people will act kindly, we can help each other realize that people are worth believing in. By believing in and supporting one another, we can spread kindness and compassion, and small actions can spread further than we know.”
These amazing students help bring more empathy and awareness to the world! We are happy and proud to be able to help support them and their continuing education by awarding them with a scholarship. We have more themes to celebrate in upcoming blogs, such as self-love, that we are looking forward to sharing. Thank you to all of our scholarship applicants, you truly are caring ambassadors!
Unified Caring Association (UCA) has scholarship opportunities for U.S. students each year. Each submission that arrives brings excitement and smiles. We are so happy to read about these caring students who share their ideas for a better world. Some of these essays share life stories that reflect how these caring ambassadors help bring more caring into the world. Recently, we began celebrating the various themes that surfaced in essays submitted by students across the U.S. Our first theme was equality. Next we want to thank and cheer those who wrote about social media and anti bullying. We are happy to share some of the essays. These essays have caring quotes that reflect the theme of social media and preventing bullying.
“My grandfather is an 80-year-old, Jewish, politically conservative man living in rural Maine who spends his time watching and reading the news. And because he is constantly consuming alarming news about murder and crime, he has become scared and closed-minded. It has made him into a person that makes judgments about people of color, is fearful of immigrants, and comments on the “inner cities crumbling into poverty and crime.”
I live over 2,000 miles away in an urban neighborhood in Denver, Colorado. In my daily life, I am surrounded by people of different cultures, socio-economic backgrounds, immigration status and perspectives—but with the same frightening news. The contrast between my grandfather’s views and mine has made me recognize the impact that sensationalized media has on its viewers. If I could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, I would change the way the media represents people and current events.
Sensationalized media makes the world seem dangerous by disproportionately portraying negative and violent events more often than positive news. When we are bombarded with that kind of information, it closes our minds and makes us fearful of each other. It is easy to get wrapped up in sensationalized information from the news. When we see more violence than kind acts, we begin to think the world is more aggressive than caring. We become isolated and fearful of people different than us, causing us to become less empathetic, less compassionate, and less caring.
I believe that if the news, as well as other media like Facebook and Twitter, showed a less sensationalized, more accurate view of people and world events, we would become more caring and compassionate towards one another. External forces pull us apart, but they can also bring us together. I would change media reporting to report crime with simple facts, not opinion or hyped up information. I would make it so media talked about crime in a proportional rate to the actual rate of crime. We see more bad than good on the media, but there is more good than bad in real life. I would also want to add a segment to all news channels of positive news about people each day. I know that many news channels have something like this, but it is often irrelevant or uninteresting. Finally, I would want to make social media a less divisive platform by creating pages for open conversation and positive news.
People work tirelessly all over the world to make powerful, progressive, and positive change. I want to create media that includes information about people from Korea to Sudan to Mexico working hard to positively impact communities. I believe that if the news had these new elements, people would be more curious about each other, open towards one another and more hopeful about humanity in general. People could connect over similarities, not just differences. Sensationalized news creates division and fear, but approaching media differently could have the opposite effect. To make the world a more caring place, I would create media that brings us together, portrays the good side of humanity as well as the areas that need improvement. News can become a powerful tool to make the world a more caring place.”
“To make the world a more caring place, the first thing that I would change is disabling the “anonymous” feature on news sites, web forums, and social media. Anonymity is a dangerous game to play because it makes people immediately more ruthless, which then leads to a toxic online environment. Forcing people to put their names on their posts would immediately change the quality of material that was getting posted.
With the continuation of advancements in technology, paper news sources are almost totally obsolete. As a result of this advancement, websites are getting saturated with comments, many of which are tactless and inconsiderate. This effect is amplified by the rise of “anonymous” commenters – it’s as if by taking someone’s identity out of the public eye, they are given permission to tear down others since nobody can tear them down in return. Reading the comments on a news site is like watching vultures circle and subsequently attack an innocent animal. As soon as somebody sees a comment they disagree with, their claws are out and they have no shame in tearing somebody else down.
Social media does nothing but exacerbate this effect. In allowing the public to share their opinions without having to put a name to what they say, platforms are allowing some true colors to shine, which, in a lot of cases, is not a good thing. Racist, homophobic, and bigoted opinions are running rampant over the media. Cyberbullying is on the rise and, as a result of that, suicide. When people are given the opportunity to be anonymous, sometimes good things can happen. But when so many opinions are swirling around, it’s hard to not get sucked in or take things personally.
By removing the publics’ ability to be anonymous, we would force everybody to own up to their opinions and have them face consequences for the things they say that impact other peoples’ lives. Free speech is important, but not so much that it can destroy somebody to the point that they take their own life. Anonymity is toxic. The public can have opinions, but if they choose to share it, their name should forever be stamped on it. The world needs to see people for who they are, not what they post. In-person interactions are never going to be the same as an interaction in the comments section of a YouTube video, so why wouldn’t we change the parameters of the comments section to reflect how people would interact in real life? Human contact is fundamental to our health, but if we are constantly ripped apart on social media because somebody decided to go anonymous, where is that contact that we needed?
Making the world a more caring place requires a lot more changes than this one. But I think that disabling online anonymity would be a start, because it would change the interactions that happen on the Internet, which is where a lot of us spend a good chunk of our time. Society can be good, but we have to make the change that allows them to do good and be seen.”
“My legs took small strides as I walked towards the lunch table. As I scanned the large cafeteria, I couldn’t help but notice the people already sitting down. Every one of them were on their phones. It wasn’t like there was no one for them to talk to. Their friends were sitting right in front of them, but there was no communication. What has the world come to? There are people that could provide the same entertainment, company, and joy, as their phone but instead, everyone chooses to divert all of their attention to a small rectangular device. If I could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, I would have people put their phones down and experience the world by interacting with others.
The average teenager spends about 9 hours a day online. Phones and social media have taken over societal bodies as if everyone is now under its trance. The first thing some do is wake up and check their phones. Everyone is guilty of this, even myself. Instead of going straight to our phones, we should make an effort to go straight to our parents and say the simple phrase “good morning.” Talking and spending time with family and friends would ensure family connections to become greater and friendships to become stronger. In one of my personal experiences, dedicating time to see my grandpa has been more important than ever. He has been restricted to his bed for about 10 months now, and with school, there is little time during the weekdays and sometimes weekends for me to see him. My mom has resorted to FaceTime, but the physical connection becomes absent. When I do get to see him, I try remaining off of my cell phone to treasure the time around him. Spending time with him made me realize that family bonding is important, and with the use of cell phones, this restricts the development of a strong bond. Talking to them, or just the holding of hands, is a symbol of care that we just can’t achieve over technology.
Looking at the world through phones is extremely different from a set of eyes. Instead of being fixated on a screen for hours on end, we can make meaningful impacts on others’ lives. Take for example, volunteering at a food bank. We can meet new people and experience the feeling of giving and making a difference in someone’s life. Personally, when I first entered the food bank, I didn’t expect to be impacted or make much of a difference. I was only there to complete the volunteer hours needed, but after going through the motions of what the workers do for a living, I loved the feeling of being able to help distribute essential needs to families in need. Seeing the dozens of families outside waiting for their weekly grocery earnings, I realized how blind I’ve been to the situations in our world that I didn’t experience or see personally. With the constant use of technology, people no longer see what surrounds them.
Putting our phones down allows us to experience the world. Our phones are like our barriers to interacting with others in a meaningful way. Breaking down this barrier is tough but essential for a more caring world.”
These amazing students bring joy and kindness to the world! We are happy and proud to be able to help support them and their continuing education. We have more themes than social media and anti bullying. Other themes that we will be blogging about are awareness and empathy. We look forward to sharing more themes and essays with our caring community. Thank you to all of our scholarship applicants, you truly are caring ambassadors!
Wednesday was a day filled with kindness as people shared caring acts and messages around the world in honor of World Kindness Day. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) are drawing inspiration from all of these kind acts and keeping the momentum up. We recently read an article on the Good News Network that informs us about a new institute whose primary directive is to research kindness.
A New “Kind” of School
Kindness has been shown to be beneficial to our physical, mental, and emotional health, as well as promote a fulfilling and long life. Since kindness is such a large and important topic, the University of California Los Angeles decided to open a school just for researching kindness. “There are countless other ways that different compassionate acts and lifestyle changes can affect one person, let alone society…[UCLA] has just announced that they will be launching the world’s first interdisciplinary research institute on kindness.” This is all made possible by The Bedari Foundation. This private family foundation aims “…to enable significant cultural shifts in the fields of health and wellness, community displacement and environmental conservation.” They offered the gift of $20 million to help establish this school at UCLA.
This institute will begin operating immediately. It will take an interdisciplinary approach to understanding kindness. These researchers will do this by using biological, evolutionary, psychological, cultural and sociological, as well as economic perspectives. Some of the focuses for researchers from many disciplines and external organizations who are gathering at the institute will be researching “…the actions, thoughts, feelings and social institutions associated with kindness.”
The UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute will support world-class research on kindness. Some of the focus will be on creating opportunities to apply the kindness research to the real-world. Also, the institute will serve as a global platform for communicating findings, helping educate the world on the science of kindness. The institute hopes to use its research to empower citizens and inspire leaders to build more humane societies. This caring research is a wonderful way to promote caring around the world. Additionally, the research is helping set in motion acts of kindness that can help make the world a better place. UCLA chancellor Gene Block comments that “universities should always be places where we teach students to reach across lines of difference and treat one another with empathy and respect — even when we deeply disagree.” It is Chancellor Block’s hopes that the new institute will gather some of the best minds and hearts to bring forth top ideas on the vital issue of kindness. The sciences of kindness and how we apply that knowledge to government, economics, and general welfare of our communities gives us real hope for a solid social impact, now and for future generations.
What Have Researchers Already Begun Studying?
In previous blogs we have mentioned how kindness and caring acts are contagious, in a good way. UCLA anthropologists are examining this phenomena of kindness that spreads from person to person and group to group. One study underway is the study of “…how people who regularly act unkind might be encouraged to engage in kind acts instead.” Also, UCLA psychologists are conducting studies on how kindness can improve our moods and reduce symptoms of depression. “Others are pursuing research on changes in neurobiology and behavior resulting from mindfulness, and how those changes can influence kindness and people’s mental, physical and social well-being.”
But Wait, There’s MORE!
There is more for those of us who are looking for more excitement. The Kindness Institute will provide seed funding for projects that research and examine the mechanics of kindness, both social and physical. This could give us insight on how people and their communities can harness kindness to create more humane, caring societies. The Good News Network also reports that “It also will provide mindfulness awareness training to students, faculty and staff and in underserved Los Angeles communities, and host an annual conference at which presenters will examine new discoveries in kindness research, among other activities.” Matthew Harris, one of the The Bedari Foundation’s co-founders and UCLA alumni, states, “Our vision is that we will all live in a world where humanity discovers and practices the kindness that exists in all of us … Much research is needed to understand why kindness can be so scarce in the modern world. As we seek at Bedari to bridge the divide between science and spirituality, through the establishment of the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute we hope to educate and empower more and more people in the practice of kindness.”
We are so excited to hear about all of the kindness being brought into our caring communities. We thank every person who participates in caring acts to help make our world a better place for us all!