BY: T. Franklin Murphy | September 2016
The world needs more kindness. We get lost in problem solving; but neglect the obvious, more kindness would solve many of the problems.
Cruelty abounds, groups of people taking arms against others. A simple openness on social media invites the meanness of the unscrupulous, attacking ideas and bullying the weak. What happened to the virtue of loving kindness? Is kindness a worn out ideal belonging to the past? Perhaps, it’s time to refocus on virtues rather than engaging in endless competitive races that take advantage of weakness and vanquish enemies. One of the greatest virtues a man or woman can possess is kindness, for kindness closes gaps, builds bridges, and invites love. We should be kind.
No one is immune to the hardships of life. We stumble through sufferings, sorrows and pains. Life is joyous; but not always. An open heart responds to sorrows with compassion. Through the heaviness of our pain, we can conceptual understand the gravity of other people’s pain. When the elderly man slips and falls, some onlookers run to his aide, others look away and move on. How we respond to the pain of another is the outward manifestation of our heart—character.
We love problem solving. We have some many tools at our fingertips. A few strokes on our Smart phone and we can answer most of lives demands. Perhaps, we try to solve too many problems, seeking answers, consuming anything that promises to cure our ill. Most people don’t need our crummy advice; they need loving kindness. They don’t need to be fixed; just accepted.
Samuel Johnson remarked, “Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.” We don’t have to agree. We may even grate on each other’s nerves. Some personality types clash. (see Dislike). Even while perturbed, we still can be kind—not pretend kindness; but wholesome respect. Seneca taught, “Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.”
Kindness blesses both the recipient and the giver. The beneficial side effects of kindness return blessings on the giver ten-fold. Studies have found kind people live longer, have larger wages, and are better citizens. They are more likely to have the warm loving relationships necessary for continued growth throughout life. Kind people, on average, are better balanced and happier people.
"Even while perturbed, we still can be kind—not pretend kindness; but wholesome respect."
Kindness dissolves differences, giving wisdom of understanding. When we give, our anger is softened, and our minds open to see the world from different angles. Defensive, retaliatory strikes lose purpose when we kindly see the world through the eyes of another.
When we are kind to our partners, even during disagreements, we establish positive moral certainty. Through kindness we make their world safe. We show them through repeated action that their vulnerabilities will not be exploited. By establishing this foundational characteristic—a reputation of kindness—we remain credible even in moments of assertiveness. Our persistent kindness creates safety, giving them security, even in disagreement, that their dignity will be upheld, and their person respected. Safety in our important relationships may be the most crucial ingredient for mental health. Kindness is necessary to build love.
So, the next time you clash, and fondness flees, don’t hate, be kind. We can give kindness—genuine kindness proceeding from respect, not some masked trickery to get our way, but compassionate caring for another being. Like ripples in a pond, kindness tends to carry forward, blessing others as the small waves move through time and space. Be kind.