Kindness is not without its rocks ahead. People are apt to put it down to an easy temper and seldom recognize it as the secret striving of a generous nature; whilst, on the other hand, the ill-natured get credit for all the evil they refrain from.
—Honore De Balzac, novelist (20 May 1799-1850)
I love this quote. Many mistake kindness as either something that either someone’s default nature (it’s always easy for them) or just weakness. Sure, sometimes it is. Con artists also know how to be kind, so you have to watch for that, as well. For me, kindness stems from several things:
- Knowing how vulnerable we all are to troubles and hurt. I’d rather not shoot myself in thefoot by shitting on people and having no one to turn to, when I need help.
- A deep respect for the strength exhibited by the people who I regard as being truly strong.
An example is the Shaolin monks, who can remove your head from your body in dozens of different ways, using the most deadly art form I’ve ever seen, but would rather pour you a cup of tea.
- Personal experiences of people being truly cruel to me and simply wanting to separate myself from them and be better than them, in every possible way, to have nothing in common with those who I despise.
- Personal experiences of some people being cruel and then witnessing them transform, change, grow, become truly remorseful and sometimes even turn into allies.
Unfortunately, most don’t don’t make the difficult choice to learn, elevate and become kinder. Still, it can and does happen.
- Knowing all too well just how damaged and broken most people are. People often don’t even realize what they’re doing.
People usually run on autopilot, going off deep, unconscious scripts that they learned from others. They don’t understand their own actions, much less other’s needs. Giving people space to (possibly) wake up from their “negative trance” is about the only thing you can do for them.
When they’re inconsiderate, it’s usually not about hurting you, not intentionally, anyway. It’s usually about a desperate fear that their own needs will not be met.
That doesn’t mean you should allow people to run you over in the midst of their waking nightmare of trying to take care of themselves. But you can choose to simply observe their behavior from a loving distance, remembering that it’s not even about you.
- A desire to have some class, some style. Selfishness, rudeness, cruelty, lack of manners, etc, these things are easy and demonstrate no intelligence, evolution or special ability.
The fact is, any ignorant twat can be shitty to others. Only someone special can be composed, reserved and lend a hand to the next person. We admire kind people (as long as they are simultaneously strong), precisely because it’s difficult.
It’s the same thing as how we admire people who can act or write a great novel or carve a swan out of a block of ice with a chainsaw. Easy isn’t impressive. Likewise, rude and selfish are unimpressive.
Kindness is indeed it’s own, special type of magic.