Kindness

This year has seen some of the lowest, base forms of negativity take place that I’ve noticed in a long time.  That is really a statement for me to write, in that I rarely watch or listen to the news.  I also carefully screen what comes to me on social media, websites and emails.  Considerable amounts of crass negativity manage to leak through.  It’s enough to make a person weep or want to find a new home planet.

This year’s overwhelming flood of hatred, slander, and ill-will only draws attention to the contrasting trickle of uplifting, truly constructive, helpful stories of compassion and heartfelt kindness.

I’m not refering to the syrupy sweet, kittens with bows sort of happy.  I’m talking blood, sweat and tears kind of kindness.  The stuff that requires actual human effort, commitment and empathy to pull of authentically. Albert Einstein, of all people, once said, “The ideals which have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. The trite subjects of human efforts, possessions, outward success, luxury have always seemed to me contemptible.”

The greatest kindnesses are usually those that don’t grab headlines.  Margaret Cho once said, “Sometimes when we are generous in small, barely detectable ways it can change someone else’s life forever.” She is so correct.  The good deeds that were bestowed upon me seemed grand and benevolent, but the givers were always humble and asked for no reward. I will always remember those people.  William Wordsworth echoed that sentiment. “That best portion of a good man’s life, His little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.”

Kindness begets kindness.  Most of us feel the need to somehow pass along kindnesses shown to us.  The Roman statesman, Cicero said it succinctly, “There is no duty more obligatory than the repayment of kindness.”
I once read an anecdote from Joann Jones that has stayed with me throughout the years.  It is germain to this topic.  She said, “During my second year of nursing school our professor gave us a quiz.  I breezed through the questions until I read the last one:  “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”  Surely this was a joke.  I had seen the cleaning woman several times, but how would I know her name?  I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank.  Before the class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our grade.  ‘Absolutely,’ the professor said.  ‘In your careers, you will meet many people.  All are significant.  They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello.’  I’ve never forgotten that lesson.  I also learned her name was Dorothy.”

An attitude like Jones’ comes from authenticity and is not just a technique for getting ahead.  You can spot a person with that attitude immediately.  Mark Twain knew it, “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

John Watson wrote in 1903, something that sums up why I chose today’s topic. “This man beside us also has a hard fight with an unfavouring world, with strong temptations, with doubts and fears, with wounds of the past which have skinned over, but which smart when they are touched.  It is a fact, however surprising.  And when this occurs to us we are moved to deal kindly with him, to bid him be of good cheer, to let him understand that we are also fighting a battle; we are bound not to irritate him, nor press hardly upon him nor help his lower self.”

Ciao

The Blue Jay of Happiness likes this quote:  “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”–Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Contemplation, Friendship, Health, Meanderings and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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