Kindness as a way of being.

Dear Friends,

It seems to me… kindness is the foundation upon which the civilized build their lives. One need not be agreeable to be kind, nor must a person be a pushover by being kind, kindness is a way of being, of looking at the world. Kindness is in the heart. Yes, the world is horribly flawed, yes the world is terribly unfair and without question, the world does bad things to good people, but those are even more reasons to hold kindness in our hearts. It is said that a man’s inner nature, for good or bad, is measured by the way he treats those below him. Those who embrace kindness as an integral part of their heart then, by that measure, will be exceptional. Think about it, we all have a sense of fairness, and most of us can apply it to someone other than ourselves.

We are like a mirror, but a mirror that has free will over what it reflects. We can reflect the evil we see in the world, we can choose to reflect the good all around us, or reflect nothing. If we embrace kindness in our hearts we naturally reflect that kindness. We have the ability to choose what to reflect out into the world, and by the butterfly effect, we have no idea how far or what form of hurricane could result, be it good… or evil. Because we are not mere audience in the world but active players. Our actions effect the whole. By reflecting good back into the world the light of goodness shines a little bit brighter. We can choose to reflect whatever we want back into the world, and be participants, or we can be bullied into not reflecting anything at all, letting others do the reflecting… so we can have someone else to blame for the world being so horrible.

Even though kindness is utile, it is not a utilitarian philosophy, it is a way of being. Often it is the highest and most human hearted form of kindness, to be unkind in the short run, to be more kind in the long run. Is it a kindness to get a heroin addict heroin? In the short term it could be argued, yes, but clearly in the long term the answer is a resounding no. When administering punishment, it is more kind to administer a punishment that will stop the behavior, rather than make other people feel a sense of “justice.” These are examples of utilitarian forms of kindness, made possible only when kindness is a way of being, which then creates long term solutions rather than pernicious problems. To be kind is to keep malice at bay, confront feelings of envy, recognize your fellow man is as imperfect as you are, and mostly, do not hold others to a higher standard than you do yourself. These are ways great men are made.

To say to oneself, “That is all well and good but doesn’t apply to me, I am not a kind person by nature…” is to deny free will. Everyone has free will to embrace kindness or coldness in their hearts. It is the coward’s choice to embrace coldness, because it is easy, while the hero’s choice is kindness, because it is hard. The poltroon finds himself always being chased while the swashbuckler finds opportunity. Those who embrace anger and bitterness must lack the fearlessness to overcome it, and so are trapped in lives of ever shrinking options, while those who embrace kindness in their hearts, feast on an ever growing smorgasbord of opportunities. Everyone has free will, but like any other aspect of a human being, that which is not exercised, withers away. It is easier in the long run to bravely embrace kindness, even if in the short run it might seem better, to become angry and bitter.

The human condition can appear to be nothing but humiliation and violence, and you can reflect that, or it can be wonder and peace, and you can reflect that back into the world as well. We all have an amazing ability to see only that which we want to see. We watch like a cat, for anything that validates our worldview, be it good or evil. Instead we should try to be more open minded. There is great evil, and yes it is the duty of good men to point out evil, else it will grow, but it is equally important for those good men, to keep our eyes open to the goodness that surrounds us, in order to nurture and husband it. Every time we see a mother wipe snot from her child’s nose, a dog bounding after a stick or a father pretending to be a monster chasing his kids, we are witness to goodness in the world. How can anyone not hold kindness in their hearts when we are surrounded by such love?

Sincerely,

John Pepin

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