“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” said the great author Mark Twain. An act of kindness is a win-win game. When you are kind towards someone, you warm a heart, and you bring a smile, and then you multiply it by two. Kindness can lift your spirit and help you snap out of a bad mood. And it can be as small as opening a door for someone or offering to share your food with someone in need. And it is a value that we must pass on to our children. While we can talk about it, and be examples for them, Rushabh Turakhia, a jeweller by profession and an author and kindness ambassador by passion has a fun and tangible method to spread the message across. He gives out little blue cards, that say “Your Turn Now”, to be passed on to a recepient of an act of kindness, so that they could give it to someone they will be kind to in the future. And, the chain of kindness travels on.
When we got to know about Rushabh’s interesting initiative, we wanted to bring his perspective to the parents. Here is the conversation that we had with him:
KE: Do you remember the very first act of kindness somebody did for you? Something that still makes you feel good?
RT: Growing up in a family where kindness, philanthropy, love and care were invariably a part of dinner table conversations, each day was full of kind deeds. Thus, it’s difficult to remember the first act of kindness I performed. But one act I would like to certainly mention was when I rescued a friend early morning at around 5 AM. She got stuck in the car lift, all nervous, anxious and restless. The moment I received her call, I immediately ran to her rescue. The smile on her face and the sigh of relief further motivated me to continue my kindness journey.
KE: How did your journey of the Your Turn Now cards begin? Why did you choose the card to propagate the principle?
RT: Being an author, I have closely observed people, their choices, way of life and behavior. When I reflected back on my values, stories that I heard as a child, I somewhere felt the need to put certain practices into place, most importantly, compassion and kindness.
Then came the movie ‘Pay it Forward’, which certainly was the turning point and the connect for me to start the Your Turn Now movement in December 2009.
Human nature is such that we have a tendency to forget things and often need reminders. Kindness is still not a way of life for many of us. Hence I realized the importance of using something tangible as a reminder to create a chain of kindness. Initially I thought of handing over a pen or keychain when a kind act is performed. But considering the practical aspect, it dawned upon me to create these kindness cards that could be easily carried irrespective of age or gender and could be distributed to keep the kindness chain going. Also, these cards are available in different languages like English, Hindi, French, German etc thus helping individuals to read on, get inspired and take the movement forward.
KE: You have conducted a lot of kindness workshops for children. What has been your biggest takeaway from these workshops?
RT: Children are the most enthusiastic about this entire concept. If tapped correctly, they can make a huge difference and change the world, making it a kinder place. Each workshop made me realize one common thing that children are like sponges – the more you pour into them, the more they absorb. The moment you give them something tangible (like this little blue card) they are on a roll to spread kindness, further inspiring others to join in.
KE: Our traditional wisdom tells us not to mention a good deed, but do it quietly and move on. What are your tips for a parent to explain the concept of YTN to the child, without the child getting the impression that the deed of kindness must be talked about?
RT: Bhagwad Geeta says : कर्म करो और फल की चिंता मत करो
i.e. perform a good deed and don’t worry about the results/ outcome, however I propose perform a good deed pass on the card and further inspire/ motivate others to do the same.
Thus a few suggestions for parents would be:
Sit down as a family and explain the concept of this little blue card.
Next, have your child share his/her thoughts and ideas of kind acts that they would like to perform.
Assist and encourage them to take the plunge and perform their very first act and ensure its continuity.
Most importantly role model it for them as children observe and carefully follow your footsteps.
KE: In this day and age, everything is becoming a race for ticking the boxes. How can one ensure that passing the cards is not just another tick in the box, but becomes a way of life?
RT: If kindness is a race, every one must participate as it’s a win -win situation for all. Kindness is contagious, and has its ripple effects. Thus I would like everyone to have a to do list and tick every day the one kind deed performed by them. It should become a part of your daily routine, more so like brushing your teeth. as soon as you wake up the first thought should be “What is the kind act I am going to perform today?”. It could be as small as bringing a smile on someone’s face or helping someone in need. Magnitude of the difference does not matter, making a difference does. So, turn the ticking the boxes in your favour, and use them to make kindness a way of life!
KE: Have you ever got back a YTN card, esp. from an unknown/ unconnected quarter?
RT: Though over half a million YTN cards are out in over 45 countries, I haven’t yet got back a YTN card (chuckles). However, kind acts have been conferred in abundance in some way or the other. Kindness is like a boomerang in the circle of life as what goes around comes around.
KE: What have been the challenges and struggles you have faced on this journey? How did you stay motivated to continue?
RT: The biggest challenge was to reach out to people single-handedly across the globe.
Coming from a background belonging to a business family, I did face a lot of resistance, as I was at that age where boys were expected to take over the family business and focus on ‘earning than giving’.
I was thus told, this is not the right thing to do even by my close friends. However, it was my strong belief in the movement that helped me overcome all challenges. And I chose to be KIND rather than being right. I walked on the path of kindness undeterred because I knew what I was doing was important for not just me, but the world.
Any thing that becomes famous and the talk of the town, you have people who criticize and get envious. However, they all eventually admire and respect the same person that you are.
KE: What’s the way ahead for the YTN cards?
RT: The target is to reach 7.2 Billion people across the globe, which indeed is a long way to go. The movement needs to be spread across like a wildfire with the kind support of newspapers, magazines, bloggers, social media, etc.
Also both the books – The Your Turn Now and the Your Turn Now 2, inspire people through real life stories about random acts of kindness performed. They help to take the movement forward and to reach out to places where I can’t reach personally.
There are also plans of creating short films and videos on Kindness, as visuals always have the power to create a stronger and long-lasting impact.
I would love for the readers of KidEngage to join me in my mission and step in to take this movement forward by calling for their YTN cards, and keeping the kindness chain going. They can do so by participating in this fun contest that’s being run by Beyond the Box, and combines creativity and kindness.
Focusing on kindness can be life-changing for you and your family. Think of when someone was kind to you, and think how you felt. It is YOUR TURN NOW!