Friday, January 06, 2006

What is it to be kind?

I have often wondered about people who are kind. I only know a few of them, but every time I meet them, they seem to have a lasting effect on me. Most of the time the people I encounter leave a bad taste in my mouth, especially at rush hour on the city streets. But every now and then, I meet someone who is really, and genuinely kind .

And often I am not one of those kind people. That they stand out by contrast to the majority speaks volumes.

Oh I can be kind, I can act "nice" to people. But most of the time I am not. At least I admit it. I often excuse or rationalize crappy behavior by defending myself or justifying my actions. But the person on the other end of my vitriol often does not know that. They just see me as a prick. Which I can be, truth be told. I have honed my points to razor sharpness, and I can use them if I need them. But who wants to be a sea nettle?

I had something happen today that struck me. Actually I had two things. One was negative, and the other kind of nice. The negative thing was a comment someone made at work. The kind act was someone offering to buy me a cup of coffee when I had to get out of line at the coffee shop. Both had an effect. One was the same old crap. The other was remarkable for its unsolicited kindness.

The thing about kind people is that they make you want to be like them. Nasty people only make you want to snap their heads off or avoid them. But kind people have this magnetism. You will go out of your way to be around them. And you always feel better when you talk to them.

But it's hard to remember to be kind to people. I guess you have to practice being kind and then kindness just kind of comes out of you like smell out of a rose. I looked up some quotes on kindness and I found a few that were pretty good.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Frederick W. Faber:
Kindness has converted more sinners than zeal, eloquence or learning.

Ralph Waldo Emerson:
You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.

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