RICKY KEJ is a 3-time Grammy award-winning composer, an environmentalist, UNESCO MGIEP Ambassador for Kindness, UNICEF Celebrity Supporter, UNCCD Land Ambassador, and an Ambassador for the Earth Day Network. He performed and spoke to the crowd at the International Rising with Kindness Youth Conference at Kanha Shanti Vanam in August 2022. Here are some excerpts from his message.
I’m Ricky Kej, musician and environmentalist. These two pillars define my life. I believe in the ancient Sanskrit phrase, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which literally means, “The world is one family.” It also means coexistence, and it means kindness. It is the base of Indian civilization. We often think it means peaceful coexistence between the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Parsees, Jains, etc. – different cultural groups within the human species – whereas it actually means a lot more than that. Somewhere along our journey, we have completely forgotten that we are not the only species on this planet. We are just one among millions of species. So, true Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam means living in peace and harmony with all life forms. Not only that, we also need to coexist with all the elements of Nature – the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the land we walk upon.
Coexistence and kindness are closely related. We must realize that we live in an ecosystem, a very delicate balance of ecology, and that we are a small part of it. It’s important that we understand that coexistence and maintenance of this delicate balance of nature keep us all alive.
True coexistence and true kindness are key to our survival. When we talk about saving the planet, we’re actually preventing ourselves from going extinct. The planet will survive without us. By mitigating the effects of climate change, deforestation, species extinction, air and water pollution, we are saving the human species. We are protecting ourselves.
I think the biggest threat of all is our belief that somebody else will bring the change. We are always waiting for governments, inter-governmental bodies, organizations, politicians, leaders, etc., to make a difference when the truth is that we can bring about change ourselves – incremental changes within our own lives – by being kind to one another.
Coexistence and kindness are closely related.
We must realize that we live in an ecosystem,
a very delicate balance of ecology, and that
we are a small part of it.
The reason we are not already bringing about these changes is not because we are evil people. It is simply because we have not empowered ourselves, we have not been kind enough to ourselves to believe that the tiny changes we make in our own lives can actually make a difference. We think, “If I stop using single-use plastics, what difference will it make?” “If I use public transport, what difference will it make?” “If I am kind to others, what difference will it make? I’m a small person.” But that’s not true. We have to empower ourselves to believe that the small changes we make and the small acts of kindness we do can make a difference, can create a ripple effect, and can touch millions of people all over this world.
So, let’s believe we have the strength to be kind.
Illustrations by JASMEE MUDGAL
Ricky is a 3-time Grammy award-winning composer, an environmentalist, UNESCO MGIEP Ambassador for Kindness, UNICEF Celebrity Supporter, UNCCD Land Ambassador, and an Ambassador for the Earth Day Network.