The Art and Acts of Kindness
By: J. Marlando
Some years ago when my wife and I were struggling financially, she went to the supermarket and after the cost of her items had been added up by the clerk she discovered that she had to return a $4.00 item because she didn’t have the money to pay for it. As a result she told the clerk she’d have to give the item back because she didn’t have the money to pay for it. Then, the woman who was standing behind her told the clerk to leave the item and that she would pay for it.
My wife is still touched by that moment even though it occurred some thirty years ago. In fact, she just mentioned it to me the other day which inspired this article.
The lady that was so kind to my wife when she was in the supermarket that day was a total stranger and we do not even know her name. Yet, the memory remains as it were yesterday and my wife will never forget that lady. I was not there but I will not forget that lady either!
As a quick aside, in the past I have taught a course in relationships and marriage. One of my first lectures has always included the fact that many, many couples have problems simply because they forget to be nice or kind to each other.
As I stop and think about it, a great many problems in our world is simply because people neglect being kind to other people. Kindness indeed is the antidote to untold numbers of problems in life not excluding hunger and other UNNECESSARY suffering around our planet. But greed and self-centeredness serves to diminish much of the human will toward kindness.
In the U.S. the vast majority of people tend to look down at our poor and needy as “failures” and as a matter of some absurd contrivance they take pride in NOT helping the downtrodden and even resenting government aiding the needy. This arrogance is unfounded of course since no one—no one—is self-made and everyone—everyone—has had a helping hand from someone!
The truth of the above, however, is that the U.S. is not alone in its arrogance over poverty as every country is, in essence, an elite system in the guises of many social systems.
In any case, being kind is a potential of our humanity but like love, true kindness cannot have conditions or biases. Kindness that does is not truly kindness but is rather like feigned love that always seeks reciprocation such as in, I’ll rub your back if you rub mine.
And, if we can only be kind to our own family members and those close to us, we are signaling that we are not really kind at all.
Even the smallest kindness can affect others for a lifetime: a pat on the back can inspire a person to accomplishment while a hug can reassure a person that they are not alone; a positive word can stir a person into positive action and a handout can save a life.
In regard to all this, I am convinced that if we could go into every prison cell and delve into the history of every convict we would discover that at least most inmates lack experiencing kindness in their lives. And of course kindness is a quality of love!
The point of the above is that love and kindness begets love and kindness and the child who has been raised with these qualities will usually take them into the rest of his or her life.
Some people may ask, but what is kindness?
Kindness begins with having empathy. It is being able to feel someone else’s pain, fear or confusion. This able-ness belongs to everyone but it is activated only in those who do not place themselves in the center; who do not judge others by themselves or evaluate people by their own standards.
Kindness is demonstrated in words and actions of compassion. Compassion results from feelings of empathy and makes no judgment values.
Compassion is tolerance and understanding; it never projects the self onto the other but instead is receptive to the other as being in and of his or herself. Compassion after all is never a moralist!
Tolerance and understanding are charitable and being charitable is to be kind. And being kind is to act in unconditional love. Because unconditional love is composed of empathy, compassion, tolerance and understanding kindness becomes then, acts of love.
Remember kindness can mend broken hearts, heal the wounds of depression, create hope in the hopeless, take away the loneliness of the lonely and lift the spirits of the despaired; kindness can also feed the hungry and even change the world.