GENDUSA COLUMN: The power of our kindness

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, April 27, 2022

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Kindness is a powerful word full of good intentions. Everyone believes kindness to be an asset, but like anything worth having, it takes work. Components of kindness are love, compassion, understanding and thoughtfulness. We can all be nice, but ‘nice’ is akin to lifting a one-pound weight expecting to build muscle in a week. Being nice is nice but being kind is how we collectively become strong enough to change our world.

When my granddaughter was entering her pre-teen years, she witnessed bullying in school. She explained how some of her friends made fun of others and did so as a group. I recall telling her, “Honey, don’t fall into the trap of following unkind behavior no matter how popular it may be. Bullying is the antithesis of kindness. How do you want your friends to remember you? Were you the one who knocked another down, or were you the one who helped someone stand?”

She answered as only the young can, “Oh Grandma, I feel horrible when people get hurt.” That night, I recall lying in bed thanking God that my granddaughter understood compassion.

How can any of us be loving if we avoid feeling the pain of others? How often have we closed our eyes to suffering because it hurts to look? We are kind to ourselves, but we are inconsiderate when we bypass viewing the agony of others.

It is heartbreaking to watch the world suffering today and see the monstrous acts of leaders who create hell on earth. It is dreadful to hear words of hatred and vile tempers running amok, creating friction and division.  How do we douse the fire, thwart the evil, and build better character? How do we save our world from the bad folks?

Well, for one thing, we sure cannot do it alone, and we can’t turn away or ignore the raging inferno in front of us. Because a fire out of control reduces all in its path to ashes.

Mariupol, Ukraine, was a beautiful seaport city full of trees and treasures. A town not unlike many of our beautiful American seaside locations where people go to unwind, relax, and enjoy the culture. Mariupol’s population of over 400,000 was living a peaceful, productive life. That is until the bully came to town. A tormentor with no concept of compassion or kindness. Two months after he arrived, Mariupol is no more. The trees are barren, the earth scorched, and families are broken. Within two short months, 95% of all that once stood is destroyed. An out-of-control bully, unchecked, is a fire waiting to be ignited.

Zero Dean says, “If you want kindness in the world, put some out there.” Thoughtfulness and civility create the waters to douse the fire. It’s not up to our leaders alone; it is up to every human to pick up a pail of empathy and throw it on the flames. We can’t just talk about being kind folks; we must actively distribute abundant acts of kindness.

When I first began my career in interior design, a good friend advised me, “The only way to compel your business to grow is to be genuinely kind. Kindness will earn you a better reputation than your talent and provide for you and your children.” My career lasted over 43 years. I was never wealthy, never the most talented designer, but I always put my clients first, and in the end, my work nourished and enriched my family.

Kindness means putting down your anger, filing away your distrust, and ending rude, crude behavior. And often, it is not popular to do so. We find ourselves with crowds who believe misery loves company. Sometimes, we cowardly accept self-righteous actions, rudely uncivil folks, and forget our place in God’s world. We listen to the loud and obnoxious, causing us to not hear the whispers of the Almighty.

Acts of kindness and thoughtfulness can spread if we sow the seeds. Love, mercy, and understanding are what God expects of us.

When we judge others, cause harm, and are bigots, we defy God. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that’s a good idea.

I know what you think, “Heck, I am kind! A lot of us are good folks!” And, yes, you are. However, could we all take it further and think before speaking and stopping before judging? Could we be more courageous and not accept others’ incivility? If we do, that kind of work will dispense enough powerful kindness to douse the raging inferno of evil, keep the bullies at bay, and save us all.

“It is not genius, nor glory, nor love that reflects the greatness of the human soul; it is kindness.” Jean-Baptiste Henri Lacordaire.